Tag Archives: True Detective

Black Figure, White-Faced

In the Court of the Dragon  by Robert Chambers  (1895, The King In Yellow Short Stories)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    April 25, 2017

Imagine you are sitting in a 100-year old church. Organ music is resounding throughout the pews. Then suddenly the harmonies and melodies turn sinister. You begin to feel that in the labyrinth of sounds now issuing from that organ, there is something being hunted. Up and down the pedals chase …something, or someone. Poor devil, you think. Whoever the victim is will not get away. But who is the victim?



We are in the Rue St. Honoré. In this story, our young narrator lives in Court of the Dragon, a narrow passage that leads from the Rue de Rennes to the Rue du Dragon. This day our young man is at St. Barnabé Church and as he listens to the organ music, as the tones grow angry and bleak, he is overwhelmed by sudden fear. The organist— black figure, white-faced—focuses his intense hatred on our young man. And so, our young man flees in his terror. But escape is not so easy.

Do you believe in mysterious entities of power?





Read In the Court of the Dragon at  Ebooks.Adelaide.edu (30-minute read) 

Listen to the audio on  YouTube.com (24-minutes)















Robert Chambers, an American fiction writer, known for his horror and fantasy short stories in the collection The King in Yellow, published in 1895 during the rise of spiritualism. In H.P. Lovecraft’s Supernatural in Literature,  he wrote of Robert Chamber’s work: “Very genuine … brings fright, madness and spectral tragedy.”

Here is a taste of Chambers descriptive powers in his story The White ShadowThere it lay, a hasin of silver and blue. Sweetheart had started to her feet, speechless, one hand holding to my shoulder, the other clasped to her breast. And now, as the road wound through the hills and down to the coast, long stretches of white sand skirted the distant cliffs, and over the cliffs waved miles and miles of yellow gorse. A cluster of white and gray houses lay in the hollow to the left almost at the mouth of the river, and beyond, the waves were beating in the bar—beating the same rhythm which we were to hear so long there together, day and night. There was not a boat to be seen, not a creature, nor was there any sign of life save for the smoke curling from a cottage chimney below. The ocean lay sparkling beneath, and beyond its deeper blue melted into the haze on the horizon.



Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror. This is a compendium of 200 short stories by over 100 famous storytellers of mystery, supernatural, ghost stories, crime, sci-fi, and horror.

Join me in reading two short stories every month. Comments are welcome.

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica    Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine

HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian      HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed


Thriller Author Mark Dawson http://markjdawson.com/

Dawson’s Book Marketing site: http://www.selfpublishingformula.com/


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Filed under classic horror stories, dark fantasy, fiction, ghost stories, ghost story blogs, Gothic Horror, Hauntings, horror, horror blogs, paranormal, Reading Fiction, short stories, short story blogs, supernatural, supernatural mysteries, supernatural thrillers

“Have You Found the Yellow Sign?

The Yellow Sign  by Robert Chambers

(The King In Yellow Collection, 1895 first published by F. Tennyson Neely.)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    August 11, 2015


[The King in Yellow (known for its legendary kingdom of Carcosa, an ancient, cursed city beyond time on the shores of Lake Hali), was a forbidden play, which was said to induce despair, strange visions, and madness in those who read it.]


Stories have great effects on our minds, our dreams, perhaps even our very lives. Do symbols  have real power or are they just harmless images?

In The Yellow Sign, artist Scott spies a figure in the churchyard below his studio window.

At the same moment he raised his head and looked at me. Instantly I thought of a coffin-worm. Whatever it was about the man that repelled me I did not know, but the impression of a plump white grave-worm was so intense and nauseating that I must have shown it in my expression, for he turned his puffy face away with a movement which made me think of a disturbed grub in a chestnut.”

His model, Tessie, sees the churchyard figure too. She recounts a dream she had about a hearse with a driver who looks much like the figure in the churchyard. Finding affection for Scott, Tessie gives him an amulet, the “yellow sign.” Did she know this symbol was said to represent disease and decay or worse, insanity?





Did Tessie  know that when she found a book on Scott’s shelf, The King in Yellow and read it, that she might be in danger?

“Song of my soul, my voice is dead;

Die thou, unsung, as tears unshed

Shall dry and die in

Lost Carcosa.”




This is probably one of the most disturbing stories yet on this blog. H.P. Lovecraft read this book in 1927 and used the motif in his Whisperers in the Dark story (Cthulhu Mythos). Countless authors (Raymond Chandler, Stephen King, Robert Heinlein to name a few) have been inspired by Chamber’s King in Yellow stories. And the highly successful True Detective HBO series ( 2014 ) had several references to The King in Yellow and Carcosa.

You can read The Yellow Sign here at EastOfTheWeb.com.




The King in Yellow is Robert Chamber’s masterpiece and most famous story.  He wrote over 70 novels and other collections of short stories.  Chambers took the name Carcosa from Ambrose Bierce’s story An Inhabitant of Carcosa (originally published in 1886).  Some say the term “Carcosa” is a magically charmed name.







Listen to the audio of Bierce’s An Inhabitant of  Carcosa

at Librivox audio at YouTube.com.

Or read it at South San Francisco Library at  SSF.net





For those who wish to read short stories in The King in Yellow, go to Gutenberg.org .


Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica       Lovecraft Ezine     HorrorAddicts.net  

Horror Novel Reviews    Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

HorrorSociety.com        Sirens Call Publications

 Monster Librarian   Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

HorrorNews.net     HorrorTalk.com

 Rob Around Books    Sillyverse    The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror classic authors.


Filed under fiction, horror, horror blogs, psychological horror, short stories, short story blogs, supernatural, tales of terror, weird tales

True Detective HBO Series: Plagiarism or Fair Use?

FYI, for my readers:

The debate about plagiarism vs. artistic license is  often a dicey situation. I loved HBO’s True Detective, and when I learned that the character Rusty Cohle was based from the writings of weird fiction writer Thomas Ligotti, I was even more intrigued. But I only learned about Ligotti’s influence in the script from an interview of the screenwriter Nic Pizzolatto, not from watching the show, since there’s no reference to Ligotti in any episodes or credits.

Recently, I came across a fascinating post about plagiarism concerning True Detective. This is a really heated debate about what is legally plagiarism, morally wrong, or fair use.  Check out these two posts on August 4 and 5 on Lovecraft Ezine:

Just how much borrowing of words and phrases from a copyrighted published work is considered fair use? What do you think?

Aug 4: http://lovecraftzine.com/2014/08/04/did-the-writer-of-true-detective-plagiarize-thomas-ligotti-and-others/

Aug 5: http://lovecraftzine.com/2014/08/05/nic-pizzolattos-homage-to-ligotti-right-and-wrong-vs-the-law-and-the-courts/







I have a particular interest in this kind of thing since in my own work, The Dazzling Darkness, I have two characters exploring the philosophies of Ralph Waldo Emerson, speaking Emerson’s words and taking on his thinking. In every case, I cite Emerson as the source and was advised to do so by legal counsel: if the text is in the public domain (which all are), I could use it noting the source. And if not in the public domain, I would have to get (pay for) permissions. So, how does Pizzolatti get away with his character Rusty Cohle spouting (or in some cases paraphrasing) Ligotti’s thinking, words, phrases from his book The Conspiracy Against the Human Race (which is likely not in the public domain)? Hmmm. Curious, don’t you think?


If you are interested in reading a short story of Thomas Ligotti, check out Mrs. Rinaldi’s Angel here on my March 11, 2014 Tales of Terror post. Ligotti is a iconic American writer, winner of  Bram Stoker Awards, British Fantasy Award, and had published numerous stories, screenplays, poems and nonfiction (The Conspiracy Against the Human Race).


Filed under fiction, horror, horror blogs, tales of terror

Dreaming Little Traps of Horror

Mrs. Rinaldi’s Angel   by Thomas Ligotti  (2005)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  March 11, 2014




Have you been watching Nic Pizzolatto’s True Detective on HBO? thomas-ligotti Pizzolatto says in an interview with The Arkham Digest  that “the work and vision of Thomas Ligotti was very influential for imagining Cohle’s (Rustin Cohle) overall worldview.” Cohle is a nihilistic and hypnotic character in this compelling crime and horror series. If you became mesmerized watching True Detective as I have, you will likely enjoy the short stories of Thomas Ligotti. His prose is luscious and the philosophy of horror one of the darkest you’ll experience. And while Ligotti is not a classic dead author as I normally feature here, I felt stimulated this week at the conclusion of True Detective to read one of Ligotti’s shorts.

Mrs. Rinaldi’s Angel is about angels and demons with a dash of Gnostic theology. Add nightmares and the power of evil (favorite elements of my reading and in my own writing) and you’ve got a story intense with horror.

A young boy suffering from nightmares is brought to the long-widowed and witchy Mrs. Rinaldi for her curative methods.

“Do you know what dreams are?” she asked quietly, and then immediately began to answer her own question. “They are parasites-maggots of the mind and soul, feeding on the mind and soul as ordinary maggots feed on the body. And their feeding on the mind and soul in turn gnaws away at the body, which in turn again affects the mind and the soul, and so on until death.”

Until death. Makes one wonder if you could literally die inside of a nightmare … and then what? Does the nightmare triumph in the end? This young boy’s bodiless nocturnal adventures are not to be missed as you go with him into the blackness of old time.

Read Mrs. Rinaldi’s Angel at Ligotti.net


In keeping with today’s dream themes and for my classic horror fans …

HOUSENightmares5642762The House of the Nightmare  by Edward Lucas White (1906)

Edward Lucas White wrote stories based on his own nightmares. This story is more than fantasy or a writer’s imagination. Our narrator is a traveler in the countryside when the image of a white stone catches his eye and he crashes his motorcar. He is knocked out and awakens to find a young boy with a hideous harelip, staring intensely at him. He spends the night inside the boy’s house and drops into a nightmare.

“It had a hot, slobbering, red mouth, full of big tusks, and its jaws worked hungrily. It shuffled and hunched itself forward, inch by inch, till its vast forelegs straddled the bed.

This story will remind you of being a little kid, alone in your darkened room, afraid of the monster under the bed. White’s most famous short story collections are Lukundoo and Song of the Sirens


Read The House of the Nightmare at Gaslight.mtroyal.ca

Listen to the audio at Librivox Recordings



 WSJ blog:  http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2014/02/02/writer-nic-pizzolatto-on-thomas-ligotti-and-the-weird-secrets-of-true-detective/

Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/sites/allenstjohn/2014/03/09/six-things-to-watch-for-in-the-true-detective-finale/

HBO: http://www.hbo.com/true-detective#/

IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2356777/


Other Reading Web Sites to Visit


Horror Novel Reviews   Hell Horror    HorrorPalace


 Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

 Lovecraft Ezine      Rob Around Books    The Story Reading Ape Blog

     The Gothic Wanderer   Sirens Call Publications   The Fussy Librarian

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed



Art is by William Blake, Red Dragon


Filed under demons, Dreams, fiction, horror, Night Sea Journey, Nightmares, quiet horror, short stories, supernatural, tales of terror, weird tales, witches