Sunday, September 27, 2015

Announcing Season of the Witch - October 2015 #‎witchseasoncm‬

One of my most favorite times of year is just around the corner. The month of all things scary...October (and my birthday *wink)! This year, we're having a read-a-long with the normal festivities of Season of the Witch here at Castle Macabre. And don't forget about the FrightFall Read-a-Thon over at Seasons of Reading!

Our read-a-long is for the book The Bell Witch by John F.D. TAff...

The Bell Witch by John F.D. Taff is an historical horror novel/ghost story based on what is perhaps the most well-documented poltergeist case to occur in the United States. It tells the story of the Bells, an early 19th-century Tennessee farm family who begin to notice strange occurrences—odd noises, bangings, gurglings. Eventually, an entity reveals itself to the family, calling itself, simply, the Witch, and makes it clear from the outset that it was sent to kill the patriarch of the family, John Bell, for a reason it never makes quite clear.

The Witch’s antics, while not exactly endearing it to the Bells, make the spirit somewhat of a novelty. Word of its existence spreads, first through the Bell’s slaves, then through the rest of the community. It tells jokes, makes predictions, offers unwanted advice and even sings. It shows an intimate knowledge of The Bible and of history and politics.

It harasses those who annoy it most, saving its ire for John Bell and his teenage daughter, Betsy. These two people become the focus of the apparition’s attacks, both verbal and physical. Ultimately, the Witch fulfills its promise of killing John Bell, while also forcing Betsy and her mother, Lucy, into considering their own roles in what created the spirit.

The Bell Witch is, at once, a historical novel, a ghost story, a horror story and a love story all rolled into one. (from Goodreads)

The book is available on Kindle from Amazon for $2.99

We are also reading this book for my TuesBookTalk read-a-long group's October read on Goodreads. You can find the group here, if you care to join, and/or join us each week on Twitter at 8:30pm CST/9:30pm EST to discuss each week's reading section. Hashtag #TuesBookTalk

Here is the reading schedule we will follow at TuesBookTalk. I will post discussion posts here the day after our Tuesday Twitter chats. I will also post this in the sidebar when the event officially starts on October 6.

week of October 6 - Part I (discussion post October 7)
week of October 13 - Part II (discussion post October 14)
week of October 20 - Part III & IV (discussion post October 21)
week of October 27 - Part V (discussion post October 28)

I would really love to have some guests this year so if you have something scary you would like to write about, whether it's favorite horror books or movies, an original story or tale, or just a spooky experience you may have had, please contact me at truebookaddict AT gmail DOT com  I would love to have you as my guest!

The hashtag for Season of the Witch: #‎witchseasoncm

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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Hunter Shea's Tortures of the Damned - Review and {Giveaway}

It's safe to say that Tortures of the Damned is truly frightening. Not in the sense of the horrific things that happen after the apocalyptic event in the story (believe me, there are plenty of those), but in the sense of the true dread of just thinking about the implications of "What If This Really Happens?"...and it could. We really don't know exactly what would happen in a chemical warfare attack, but I'm pretty sure if it does, it's going to be an awful lot like what happens in this book.

This is only my second read by Hunter Shea and all I can say is..."What was I waiting for?" He has a true knack for writing a myriad of horror stories, whether it be this frightening post apocalyptic tale, or a haunted house/island in Island of the Forbidden. Next up is The Dover Demon and I have to say that I'm truly psyched for that.

On another note, not only does Shea have a knack for a horror story, he knows how to write characters that the reader will care about, especially in this book. I cared about what was happening to these people, almost living their fear and trials vicariously. Thank goodness I would emerge from my reading forays into my safe armchair at home. I don't want to be one of "The Damned."

About the book
· Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
· Publisher: Pinnacle (July 28, 2015)
· Language: English
· ISBN-10: 0786034777
· ISBN-13: 978-0786034772

First, the electricity goes—plunging the east coast in darkness after a devastating nuclear attack. Millions panic. Millions die. They are the lucky ones. 

Next, the chemical weapons take effect—killing or contaminating everything alive. Except a handful of survivors in a bomb shelter. They are the damned.

Then, the real nightmare begins. Hordes of rats force two terrified families out of their shelter—and into the savage streets of an apocalytic wasteland. They are not alone. Vicious, chemical-crazed animals hunt in packs. Dogs tear flesh, cats draw blood, horses crush bone. Roaming gangs of the sick and dying are barely recognizable as human. These are the times that try men’s souls. These are the tortures that tear families apart. This is hell on earth. The rules are simple: Kill or die.

“A lot of splattery fun.”—Publishers Weekly

“Harrowing, bloodsoaked.” —Jonathan Janz, Author of The Nightmare Girl

“Frightening, gripping.”—Night Owl Reviews

“Old school horror.” —Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author

About the author
Hunter Shea is the author of the novels The Montauk Monster, Sinister Entity, Forest of Shadows, Swamp Monster Massacre, and Evil Eternal. His stories have appeared in numerous magazines, including Dark Moon Digest, Morpheus Tales and the Cemetery Dance anthology, Shocklines : Fresh Voices in Terror.

His obsession with all things horrific has led him to real life exploration of the paranormal, interviews with exorcists and other things that would keep most people awake with the lights on. He lives in New York with his family and vindictive cat. He waits with Biblical patience for the Mets to win a World Series. You can read about his latest travails and communicate with him at

You can purchase Tortures of the Damned in mass market paperback at more retail stores nationwide, as well as bookstores, both independent and chain. 

You can also buy online at:

Barnes and Noble

One signed book from Hunter Shea of winner’s choice (or e-book) and a bookmark.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Edgar Allan Poe - The Cask of Amontillado - Discussion

This is a short one, but really no less profound. Funny how Poe understood human nature. Obviously, as we learn very early in the story, Montresor has been wronged by Fortunado, but how was he wronged? Was it a wrong hearkened to being continually cut off in traffic, or was it more of a constant injury of pride? We shall never know. But, as I said, Poe knew human nature, and knew it wouldn't be hard for the reader to believe this revenge plot, which really is a brilliant one.

So, as usual, I did my Google searches and came across some tidbits. Of course, I must touch on the Vincent Price version of the story. This story is portrayed along with two other tales (Morella, one of my favorites, and The Case of M. Valdemar) in a 1962 film titled, Tales of Terror. Amontillado in this film is actually told as a kind of mash up with another story and is titled The Black Cat. I remember this one well and I kind of liked this variation on the story, although it's a bit more comical.

I then came across this YouTube video of the story, kind of a short film. It's pretty good and I swear I think that's John Heard portraying Montresor, but I'm not sure. The video is poor quality, but I embedded it below, in case your might want to watch. I enjoyed it nonetheless. (My goodness, the way Montresor mocks Fortunado by making those screaming sounds...quite made me shudder)

Shmoop had some interesting discussion questions. I'll paste them below and then attempt to answer them as to my own thoughts. Feel free to do so as well in the comments, if you like.
  1. What if Montresor is a woman? Most people assume Montresor is a man. Why? Would it change the way you think about the story if Montresor is a woman?
  2. What kind of clown is Fortunato? We see lots of scary clowns in the movies and in books. Is Fortunato a scary clown? If so, what is scary about him? If not, why?
  3. How do you feel when you read "The Cask"? Claustrophobic? Tired? Something else? What about the story makes you feel this way?
  4. Could Fortunato narrate this story? Why, or why not? Make an argument for both sides of this debate.
If Montresor was a woman, I think it would be pretty kick ass. I, for one, think a woman would be quite adept at devising this kind of plot. Men, even enemies, seem to revert to good ole boy buddies when they're drinking and seem to temporarily forget past wrongs. The only thing that Montresor being a woman would change my thinking about the story is I would believe that Fortunado had wronged her by corrupting her innocence, or something to that effect.

I think Fortunado is portrayed as dressed up as a clown as a symbolism of his clown-like nature. What I'm thinking of is the person who is always clowning around and insulting people, thinly disguised as joking around. You know the type of person I'm talking about. I don't find him scary at all (well, unless was dressed as a circus clown. Yes, I have a phobia of those kinds of clowns).

I feel a bit bothered because I don't know how someone could kill another human being. And then I wonder what could Fortunado have done to Montresor to make him kill him in this way. And claustrophobic...yes! Who would ever want to be walled up alive. Ack! 

I suppose it would be interesting for Fortunado to narrate since he really has no idea how much Montresor hates him and so it would be equally suspenseful, perhaps more. Feeling the horror of being walled up from his point of view would be pretty creepy. Also, we might get some insight into how Fortunado really feels about Montresor. He might say, in his narrative, "Montresor is such a prat. He knows nothing about good Amontillado." And so we would get a glimpse of why Montresor can't stand him. 

I hope you will share your thoughts in the comments, or leave a link to your blog post.

Looking forward to next week and The Fall of the House of Usher!

Another story under my belt for R.I.P. X!

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Friday, September 11, 2015

Edgar Allan Poe - Ligeia - Discussion

So, who else envisions Vincent Price as the male protagonist and hears Price's voice as the narrator? I can't help it! Every time I read Poe stories, I picture and hear Vincent Price. I guess it's because my earliest exposure to Poe's works were indeed from Price's movies. And I still love them to this day.

This was an interesting story. I don't think I've read it previously. And I was thinking that it was never made into a film because I don't remember seeing it. Wrong! As I did my Google search, I came across The Tomb of Ligeia, starring (guess who?) Vincent Price. It was a 1964 film. The IMDB description: "A man's obsession with his dead wife drives a wedge between him and his new bride." Even better, here's what the movie poster said, "Even on her wedding night, she must share the man she loved with the 'female thing' that lived in the tomb of the cat." Sounds good! I'm going to see if my library has it, or maybe I'll just buy it. I've found that I like owning Vincent Price films. The House of Wax still creeps me out to this day. (Addendum: Turns out there is a more recent film based on this story that I have seen. It was pretty good, as horror films go. Now that I know it's based on this story, I will have to watch it again. I do remember, upon reading the synopsis, that it does veer off from the original story quite a bit. 2009 film, The Tomb)

I found some discussion questions online that I thought might help facilitate our discussion. Feel free to answer them in the comments, or if you feel like sharing your thoughts without answering the questions, be my guest.

1) "Ligeia" is an evocative name. What does it suggest?
2) What effect does the notion that the narrator does not know the paternal name of his wife
have on us?
3) Ligeia's eyes are so prominent, so compelling. Why?
4) What does the poem about the conqueror worm have to do with her character / the story?
5) What does the Lady Rowena have in common with Ligeia? How?

My thoughts on the questions, etc...

I wasn't sure of the name of Ligeia and what it suggests so I did a search of its meaning: Derived from Greek λιγυς (ligys) meaning "clear-voiced, shrill, whistling". This was the name of one of the Sirens in Greek legend. This gave me an interesting thought. Ligeia in the story is a siren and she has the narrator firmly under her spell, even after death. I believe that she used her powers to cause him to poison Rowena and he was so firmly under her spell (and high on opium) that he didn't realize that he indeed killed her. 

I'm not even sure why #2 is relevant. I did not find myself asking why we did not learn, nor does the narrator know, Ligeia's paternal name. What about you? Do you find that strange? I'm thinking perhaps, going back to the siren idea, that she is actually a daughter of a god (like the Greek gods, for instance).

When I came to this question, I went back and read about her eyes again. It seems to me that the narrator is most compelled by her eyes. Perhaps her eyes are where her siren powers actually derive, or perhaps it's the old adage for him, "The eyes are the window to the soul"? The issue with the eyes also makes me think of her as a divine being, such as an angel. Which would also tie into the poem in the story, The Conqueror Worm.

This question got me thinking. The audience watching the play in The Conqueror Worm are angels, and so are immortal beings, and the players (mimes) on stage represent the human race. The worm then is death, devouring the humans and the audience (angels) are forced to watch this play out over and over in their immortality. And yet she laments to God in the passage directly after the poem about mortality (at least that's what I got from it) so perhaps she decides then and there that she will not give into to death. She will resist it with her sheer will and so she decides to get rid of Rowena and take over her body and life. There really could be so many interpretations here!

One similarity I noticed is that the narrator does not know or remember where or how he met Ligeia and again the same with Rowena. He isn’t sure how it happened that the family of the bride allowed their daughter to marry him. Another similarity is that both Ligeia and Rowena take ill and die. So perhaps, in the long run, the narrator is psychotic and is, in fact, a wife murderer. Food for thought.

I really enjoyed this story. I'm going to watch some movies based on it, as I mentioned above. I'm looking forward to your thoughts on it.

Next up we have The Cask of Amontillado. Watch for the discussion post next week.

I forgot to add that this counts for R.I.P. X

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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Gothic September Is Here! #GothicSept

Today is the official kick-off of Gothic September here at Castle Macabre! This year, I'm featuring read-a-longs of three Edgar Allan Poe short stories.

Here are the stories and discussion schedule:

Week of Sept. 7 - 13
The Cask of Amontillado 
Week of Sept. 14 - 20 
The Fall of the House of Usher 
Week of Sept. 21 - 27

*The schedule can also be found in the sidebar*

So, start reading Ligeia and next week, on Monday, I will put up a discussion post. Stop by at your leisure all week to discuss. I will follow this model for all three stories. (Each week's discussion post will be a sticky post.)

What else is going on this month? I'm hoping to post more about Edgar Allan Poe and his poems. If you're reading anything Gothic this month, I'd love for you to do a guest review. Just let me know if you'd like to share anything at all Gothic related this month. You can be my guest! 

The blogoversary giveaway is still going on at the announcement post so be sure to check it out. 

Happy (Gothic) September!

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