Tag Archives: vampires

Van Helsing, Not Just Another Vampire Story

Abraham’s Boys  by Joe Hill  (2004, first published as The Many Faces of Van Helsing)

 

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    May 9, 2017

 

 

A place that smelled of bats. 

Are you a vampire story fan? Strong enough to handle serious horror? Is one of your favorite fictional characters Professor Abraham Van Helsing? Then you’re are going to love Joe Hill’s Abraham’s Boys.

This 35-minute read gives you a taste of Dracula, a father’s forbidden study, and the loss of boyhood innocence. While I’m not a hard core horror fan (I don’t read high horror much, and my own novels are written in more supernatural elements of ghostly powers, aka ‘quiet horror’), I could appreciate this vampire story as high quality, well written, with the sweetness of terror.

 

 

Read Abraham’s Boys  at FiftyTwoStories.com .

 

Listen to the audio (40 minutes) read by Miss Murder on YouTube.com

 

 

 

 

More of Joe Hill’s short stories in his collection of 20th Century Ghosts.

 

 

 

Joe Hill is a novelist and the son of novelists Stephen and Tabitha King. Hill won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Fiction Collection and the British Fantasy Award.

 

 

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     

Chuck Windig’s Terrible Minds  Monster Librarian      HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

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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 story blogs, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, occult, paranormal, short stories, short story blogs, supernatural thrillers, tales of terror, vampires, weird tales

Our Vampires, Ourselves

The True Story of A Vampire by Count Eric Stanislaus Stenbock

(Studies in Death, 1894)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  May 10, 2016

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Our vampires, ourselves. All vampires are alike, yes or no? Do we draw vampires to ourselves through our personal styles and desires? Through our imagination maybe. Or, maybe through nature. What if your vampire wants more than your blood? What if your vampire desires something deeper and more rewarding? Are you willing?

Count Eric Stanislaus Stenbock wrote The True Story of a Vampire in 1894. And while this short story won’t win any prizes for writing, it’s a story that you won’t let go until you reach the last words.

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We are in Styria where vampires generally “arrive at night, in carriages drawn by two black horses. Our vampire arrived by the commonplace means of the railway train, and in the afternoon.” Don’t laugh. This is serious business. Come meet the Wronski family, who live in a castle. Their guest arrives, Count Vardalek, a Hungarian.

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 [Sukanto Debnath “Smile at Night” WikiMedia.]

 

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Read Stenbock’s The True Story of a Vampire at Gutenberg.net.au.

Listen to the audio from Librivox.org by James K. White.

Find more of Stenbock’s writings at Guide to Supernatural Fiction.com.

 

 

 

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Stenbock was born in Estonia. He wrote poetry, prose, and short stories. He loved Buddha and Shelley. After his death in 1895, Stenbock was buried at the Brighton Catholic Cemetery. Before burial the heart was extracted and sent to Estonia, preserved in a glass urn to be stored in the wall of the church. At the time of his death, the story goes that his uncle, back in Esbia, saw an apparition of Stenbock’s tear-stained face at his study window. [This is probably not a true account but I thought it kind of fun anyway.]

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror. This is a compendium of over 170 short stories by over 100 master storytellers of mystery,  supernatural, horror, and ghost stories. Join me in reading one short story every other week!

Comments are welcome.

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine

Books & Such   Bibliophilica    Lovecraft Ezine    

 HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian     HorrorNews.net     HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

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Dead Howls of the Vourdalak

The Family of Vourdalak   by Aleksei Tolstoy ( published 1884)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   May 19, 2015

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Let’s go to the castle of the Dowager Princess of Schwarzenberg in Hitzing, in the dark and silent woods of Vienna. We’ve dined on a rich meal with tasty wine; the kindly Princess has seated us around a hot fire; we are all in the mood for thrilling story telling.

The Marquis de Urfe, a womanizing French diplomat speaks:

“As for me, gentlemen, I have had but a single adventure … so strange, so horrible, and yes, true, that it will strike terror in even the most incredulous among you.” He takes a pinch of sniff and begins to recount his adventure.

“I should explain to you, mesdames, that vourdalaks, as the Slavic people call vampires, are believed in those countries to be dead bodies that come out of their graves to suck the blood of the living. Their habits are similar to those of all vampires, from any country, but they have one characteristic that makes them even more dreadful. The vourdalaks, mesdames, prefer to suck the blood of their closest relatives and dearest friends who, once dead, become vampires in turn. … The commissioners tell of exhuming bodies engorged with blood, which they stake in the heart and then burn in the village squares. The magistrates who were present at these executions attest — with oaths and signed statements — that they heard the dead howl at the moment that the stake was plunged into their heart.”

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The Marquis recounts his travel to a Serbian village where he finds lodging at the home of a man named Dorde and his wife and children. The Marquis learns that Dorde is awaiting the return of his father Gorcha who has gone off hunting. Gorcha left a warning to his son Dorde that if he does not return in ten days, do not let him into the house as he will have turned into a vourdalak. Meantime the Marquis falls in love with Sdenka, the lovely young  sister of Dorde. When Gorcha does return, the story takes a wicked turn into delicious encounters with the vourdalaks.

This short story was adapted for a film in 1963 titled The Black Sabbath that included three short stories: The Telephone (sexy ghost story about a prostitute, Rosie), The Drop of Water (by Chekhov, classic dark and shadowy ghost story), and Wurdalak (vampires) starring Boris Karloff as Gorcha. I watched the film. Vintage horror at its best. Loved it.

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80px-A.K.Tolstoy_by_Repin Alexei Tolstoy (1817-1875)  was a poet, playwright and novelist, second cousin to Leo Tolstoy. His historical drama trilogy The Death of Ivan the Terrible , Tsar Fiodor Iannovich, Tsar Boris are considered to be a part of the classic Russian literature of the 19th century. His first work of fiction was in 1841, The Vampire.

 

 

Read the Family of Vourdalak at AmericanLiterature.com

 

Listen to the audio at Weirdtales: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TOcjg6iPRRM

 

Watch the film The Black Sabbath (Wurdalak with Boris Karloff on YouTube at DailyMotion.com).

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Photo Credit: First image above is by Edvard Munch, The Vampire, 1893.

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     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.

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Walpurgis Nacht: Night of the Witches

Dracula’s Guest   by Bram Stoker (1914)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    October 14, 2014

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This short story is not about witches but  does have the flavors of Count Dracula and a creepy atmospheric mood in the classic style of Stoker’s horror. If you are a Bram Stoker fan, love the novel Dracula and are anxious to see the new movie Dracula Untold, this short fiction has all the qualities of a mysterious journey down a dark road to the supernatural.

We are on a carriage ride through the woods of Germany on the cursed night of the witches. An Englishman in Munich, on his way to visit Count Dracula in Transylvania, takes a carriage ride on Walpurgis nacht. It’s early summer and the carriage horses are throwing up their heads suspiciously into the air. Johann, the driver, passes a road that appears inviting to Englishman and he asks Johann to turn into that road. But Johann refuses. Johann responds …

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He crossed himself and mumbled a prayer, before he answered, ‘It is unholy.’

‘What is unholy?’ I enquired.

‘The village.’

‘Then there is a village?’

‘No, no. No one lives there hundreds of years.’

You are afraid, Johann—you are afraid. Go home; I shall return alone; the walk will do me good.’

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And so begins this man’s lonely walk into the darkened woods, through a snowstorm, into the village cemetery, and the supernatural power he encounters there.

 

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With the release of the film Dracula Untold this month, where the history of Count Dracula is illustrated in the story of Vlad the Impaler, I thought reading this particular short story of Stoker’s would be timely. It is thought that Dracula’s Guest was originally designed to be the opening chapter of the novel Dracula.

 

 

 

 

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In 1912 Bram Stoker died in London on April 20, during the same month as the German Walpurgis nacht date of April 30. His wife Florence had Dracula’s Guest and Other Weird Stories published in 1922. Dracula’s Guest was first published in 1912 with the dedication, “To My Son.”

 

 

 

Read the short story Dracula’s Guest at Gutenberg.org

Listen to the audio version at Librivox.org

 And, if you’ve seen Dracula Untold, post a review!

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica       Lovecraft Ezine

Horror Novel Reviews    Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

HorrorSociety.com       Sirens Call Publications

 Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

 Rob Around Books    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.

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Penny Dreadful Stories, Read ‘em Here!

Penny Dreadful, Read ’em Here (1830s — 1900s)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    July 1, 2014

 

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Imagine you are in Victorian England. While you cannot afford to buy one of Charles Dickens’ stories at twelve shillings, you can afford to buy a Penny Dreadful (also known as “bloods” or “shilling shockers”) for one penny and dive into the scintillating stories of vampires, wehr-wolves, pirates, robbers, Roman gladiators, Highwaymen, Goths, and so much more.

At the time, the readers of Penny Dreadfuls were the semi-literate, working class British. The stories were written by hack writers (bad writing is not a crime so let’s keep an open mind) who were paid a penny a line for their—what was considered ‘vulgar’—stories. The readers at the time were mostly young adults, and far more male readers than females. Today, statistics say that males account for only 20% of the fiction readers.

Varneyp1Probably one of the most enticing parts of these stories were the lurid illustrations (woodcuts). Don’t we all have a taste for the visually sensational? And don’t we rely on literature to satisfy our needs for melodrama and murder?fVarney7a

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today we have Penny Dreadful, the current TV-series on ShowTime, created by screenwriter John Logan. If you are looking for a throttling psychosexual horror drama, this will fulfill (see it “On Demand”). We have the beautiful vampire huntress Vanessa Ives, a sharpshooter Josh Harnett, African explorer and vampire hunter Sir Malcolm Murray, a prostitute dying of consumption Brona Croft, Frankenstein (and his monster), and Dorian Grey. This drama is for adults, and it’s far from any kind of  hack writing. It is profoundly well written, rich in story, and a stunning interweaving of compelling characters. Thrills and chills for sure!

penny-dreadful

But, if you want to experience the original Penny Dreadful from Victorian England, I’ve found four stories online for your blood-thirsty pleasures: Varney the Vampire; The Mysteries of London; String of Pearls (A Romance) The Demon Barber of Fleet Street; Wagner the Wehr-Wolf. These are not short stories but more novella length, and were presented in the Penny Dreadful editions as a weekly or monthly series. I’ve included a paragraph of text for you to get a flavor of the writing.

 

Varney the Vampire by Thomas Preskett Prest

200px-Varney_the_VampireThe solemn tones of an old cathedral clock have announced midnight—the air is thick and heavy—a strange, death like stillness pervades all nature. Like the ominous calm which precedes some more than usually terrific outbreak of the elements, they seem to have paused even in their ordinary fluctuations, to gather a terrific strength for the great effort. A faint peal of thunder now comes from far off. Like a signal gun for the battle of the winds to begin, it appeared to awaken them from their lethargy, and one awful, warring hurricane swept over a whole city, producing more devastation in the four or five minutes it lasted, than would a half century of ordinary phenomena.

Read Varney the Vampire at Gutenberg.org

Listen to audio version at Librivox.org  (read in a lovely English accent)

 

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The Mysteries of London by George W.M. Reynolds

MyseriesofLondonprologueCrime is abundant in this city: the lazar-house, the prison, the brothel, and the dark alley, are rife with all kinds of enormity; in the same way as the palace, the mansion, the club-house, the parliament, and the parsonage, are each and all characterised by their different degrees and shades of vice. But wherefore specify crime and vice by their real names, since in this city of which we speak they are absorbed in the multi-significant words – WEALTH and POVERTY … From this city of strange contrasts branch off two roads, leading to two points totally distinct the one from the other. One winds its tortuous way through all the noisome dens of crime, chicanery, dissipation, and voluptuousness: the other meanders amidst rugged rocks and wearisome acclivities, it is true, but on the wayside are the resting-places of rectitude and virtue.
    Along those roads two youths are journeying. They have started from the same point; but one pursues the former path, and the other the latter. Both come from the city of fearful contrasts; and both follow the wheels of fortune in different directions. Where is that city of fearful contrasts? – Who are those youths that have thus entered upon paths so opposite the one to the other? And to what destinies do those separate roads conduct them?

.Read Mysteries of London at VictorianLondon.org

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String of Pearls (A Romance), The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

images-3“Before Fleet-street had reached its present importance, and when George the Third was young, and the two figures who used to strike the chimes at old St Dunstan’s church were in all their glory – being a great impediment to errand-boys on their progress, and a matter of gaping curiosity to country people – there stood close to the sacred edifice a small barber’s shop, which was kept by a man of the name of Sweeney Todd).  How it was that he came by the name of Sweeney, as a Christian appellation, we are at a loss to conceive, but such was his name, as might be seen in extremely corpulent yellow letters over his shop window, by anyone who chose there to look for it. Barbers by that time in Fleet-street had not become fashionable, and no more dreamt of calling themselves artists than of taking the Tower by storm; moreover they were not, as they are now, constantly slaughtering fine fat bears, and yet somehow people had hair on their heads just the same as they have at present, without the aid of that unctuous auxiliary. Moreover Sweeney Todd, in common with his brethren in those really primitive sorts of times, did not think it at all necessary to have any waxen effigies of humanity in his window. There was no languishing young lady looking over the left shoulder in order that a profusion of auburn tresses might repose upon her lily neck, and great conquerors and great statesmen were not then, as they are now, held up to public ridicule with dabs of rouge upon their cheeks, a quantity of gunpowder scattered in for a beard, and some bristles sticking on end for eyebrows.
     No. Sweeney Todd was a barber of the old school, and he never thought of glorifying himself on account of any extraneous circumstance. If he had lived in Henry the Eighth’s palace, it would have been all the same to him as Henry the Eighth’s dog-kennel, and he would scarcely have believed human nature to be so green as to pay an extra sixpence to be shaven and shorn in any particular locality.
     A long pole painted white, with a red stripe curling spirally round it, projected into the street from his doorway, and on one of the panes of glass in his window was presented the following couplet: Easy shaving for a penny, As good as you will find any.”

Read String of Pearls (Demon Barber) at VictorianLondon.org

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Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf George W.M. Reynolds

Wagner the Wehr-WolfIt was the month of January, 1516. The night was dark and tempestuous; the thunder growled around; the lightning flashed at short intervals: and the wind swept furiously along in sudden and fitful gusts. The streams of the great Black Forest of Germany babbled in playful melody no more, but rushed on with deafening din, mingling their torrent roar with the wild creaking of the huge oaks, the rustling of the firs, the howling of the affrighted wolves, and the hollow voices of the storm. The dense black clouds were driving restlessly athwart the sky; and when the vivid lightning gleamed forth with rapid and eccentric glare, it seemed as if the dark jaws of some hideous monster, floating high above, opened to vomit flame.

And as the abrupt but furious gusts of wind swept through the forest, they raised strange echoes—as if the impervious mazes of that mighty wood were the abode of hideous fiends and evil spirits, who responded in shrieks, moans, and lamentations to the fearful din of the tempest. It was, indeed, an appalling night! An old—old man sat in his cottage on the verge of the Black Forest. He had numbered ninety years; his head was completely bald—his mouth was toothless—his long beard was white as snow, and his limbs were feeble and trembling.”

Read Wagner the Wehr-Wolf at Gutenberg.org

 

If you’ve read any of these stories, I’d love to hear your comments. Have you been watching Penny Dreadful on ShowTime? Don’t be shy about comments. We all friendly here: no bites or blood-sucking allowed. And of course, if you prefer the quieter side of horror (more psychological or ghostly without blood and violence), there’s plenty of free short stories in the archives (browse the Index above). Since I’m a quiet horror reader and writer, most of the stories here are at the soft-core horror level.

 

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica.com

Horror Novel Reviews   Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

HorrorSociety.com

 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

 

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

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Filed under classic horror stories, dark fantasy, fiction, horror, horror blogs, Penny Dreadful, quiet horror, short stories, supernatural, tales of terror, vampires, werewolves

The Dead Grey Eye

The Vampyre   by John Polidori (1819)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    June 24, 2014

 

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If you are a True Blood fan, and haven’t read the first vampire short story in this genre, here it is. No horror blog would be worthy without including this tale.  In terms of historical literature, LeFanu’s Carmilla was the second vampire story in 1847 and then Bram Stoker’s Dracula in 1897. Some people think Vlad the Impaler was the first vampire story but Vlad was actually a blood-thirsty Romanian (1400s) who actually impaled his enemies and was known as Dracula of Wallachia. Vlad was the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s masterpiece. If we want the absolutely first work of vampire literature we have to recognize the German poem in 1748, The Vampire, by Heinrich August Ossenfelder and of course Goethe’s The Bride of Corinth in 1797.

Our author Dr. John Polidori was a friend of poets Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, and author Mary Shelley. It’s commonly known that they all decided, one stormy evening at Lake Geneva (1816), to challenge each other by writing a horror story. The most famous result of that challenge was Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Polidori’s The Vampyre was inspired by Byron’s story The Burial: A Fragment. There is a popular quote by Polidori explaining this inspiration: “The fact is that though the groundwork is certainly Lord Byron’s, its development is mine.” Polidori wrote The Vampyre in a matter of days and it was his only work of fiction. He died at age 25, just two years after its publication.

 

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In The Vampyre, Lord Ruthven is a mysterious, British nobleman with a dead grey eye, who had a mesmerizing effect on young society woman. Aubrey is a young and wealthy man and becomes a friend to his Lordship Ruthven and his traveling companion. Aubrey falls in love with the lovely and innocent Ianthe in Greece, and I don’t have to tell you what happens to the charming Ianthe—who by the way, knows and understands these nocturnal fiends.

Dark romance, blood, supernatural, and madness is a winning combination today and was in 1819. This story was wickedly popular, translated into French, German, Spanish and Swedish, and adapted into a stage play all within a two-year period.

 

Polidori writes with an addictive prose and has created characters that are still alive and thriving in this nearly 200-year old fiction. Do you have a favorite vampire story? What do you think of Polidori’s?

 

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Read The Vampyre  at East of the Web

Listen to the audio at Librivox

 

And here is Lord Byron’s poem that he wrote in 1813, The Giaour, about vampires. I couldn’t resist!

But first, on earth as vampire sent,
Thy corpse shall from its tomb be rent:
Then ghastly haunt thy native place,
And suck the blood of all thy race;
There from thy daughter, sister, wife,
At midnight drain the stream of life;
Yet loathe the banquet which perforce
Must feed thy livid living corpse:
Thy victims ere they yet expire
Shall know the demon for their sire,
As cursing thee, thou cursing them,
Thy flowers are withered on the stem.

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica.com

Horror Novel Reviews   Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

HorrorSociety.com

 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

 

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

 

 

 

 

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Filed under fiction, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, short stories, supernatural

Shapes That Haunt the Dusk

 Perdita  by Hildegarde Hawthorne  (1897)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror,  February 11, 2014     Women In Horror Month

9f6fe56daf585786370676941674331414f6744Hildegarde Hawthorne (1871-1952) probably isn’t a name that comes quickly to mind to most fiction readers. Even if you are an avid classic reader, this author has been long forgotten and overlooked. Of course, you might guess she was related to the most famous Hawthorne. Hildegarde was the granddaughter of Nathaniel Hawthorne, daughter of Julian. She was a short story writer, poet, essayist, biographer, and reviewer—author of some 23 books.

Her short story featured here, Perdita, was originally published in Harper’s New Monthly and in the anthology Shapes That Haunt the Dusk in 1907. She is probably most famous for her biography of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Romantic Rebel in 1936.  If you enjoy Perdita, you might also like The Faded Garden, which is a collection of all her ghost stories.

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I can’t call Perdita a horror story. Even “quiet horror” is a stretch. This is a ghostly love story. Picture the beauty of the prairie, rolling alfalfa fields and big sky. You are sitting on a veranda with vines of roses and sweeping clean air.  But there is a morbid quietness. There is … a young married couple, fresh from their honeymoon. There is sweet Aunt Agnes … There is … the power from beyond.

Read Perdita at Gutenberg.org (scroll down to the title)

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Have you experienced the award-winning work of Caitlin Kiernan? Kiernan is known more as a dark fantasy author than horror author, although that dividing line is pretty blurry to me. She’s written novels, comic books, novellas, and over 100 short stories. Here’s one from Subterranean Press, The Belated Burial. Yeah, you guessed it … a tale of being buried alive. But nothing is predictable in the dark realms of Caitlin Kiernan.

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Visit CaitlinKiernan Web site

The Belated Burial is short enough for a lunchtime read. I read it with a rare roast beef sandwich, tomato juice, and rich black Espresso coffee.  We are in vampire land, after all.

I would certainly be interested in seeing some comments on this story. Did you find Kiernan’s The Belated Burial kindred to Poe’s The Premature Burial? (read story here) What did you think of Kiernan’s ending? If you have any thoughts, please post.

Read The Belated Burial at Subterranean Press

Listen to the audio at PodCastle  Number 127

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Sirens Call Publications

Horror Novel Reviews   Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

HorrorSociety.com

 Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

 Lovecraft Ezine      Rob Around Books    The Story Reading Ape Blog

     The Gothic Wanderer

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

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Filed under dark fantasy, fiction, ghost stories, Hawthorne, short stories, weird tales, Women In Horror, Women in Horror Month