After a few intolerable moments I felt better, but the heavy air pressed on me stiflingly and I rushed from the inner room into the larger and outer chamber. Here a blast of cool air revived me, and I saw that the place was changed.
A dozen other candelabra besides those I had lighted were flaming round the walls, the hearth was all ruddy with a blazing fire, everything that had been dim was bright, the luster had returned to the gilding, the flowers bloomed in the vases. A lady was sitting before the hearth in a low armchair. Her light loose gown swept about her on the carpet, her black hair fell around her to her knees, and into it her hands were thrust as she leaned her forehead upon them, and starred between them into the fire. I had scarcely time to observe her attitude when she turned her head quickly towards me, and I recognized the handsome face of the magnificent lady who had plaid such a sinister part in the strange scenes that had been enacted before me two nights ago. I saw something dark looming behind her chair, but I thought it was only her shadow thrown backward by the fire.
She arose and came to meet me, and I recoiled from her. There was something horridly fixed and hollow in her gaze, and filmy in the stirring of her garments. The shadow, as she moved, grew more firm and distinct in outline, and followed her like a servant where she went.
The Ghost of the Rath by Rosa Mulholland in part of the Twelve Irish Ghost Stories anthology and was first published in 1891. It’s a very classic gothic story, with an abandoned, gloomy manor and a secret history with murder. But I find it very evocative, especially in the atmosphere. The place is more vivid than the characters and not only where it becomes alive with the shades of people who lived and died there.
Descriptions are so vivid and visual that it almost feels like you stand there, right beside the characters. This is what I like about classic gothic fiction. Today, many readers seem to think that descriptions are boring and that action should be favoured. I believe that when done well, a description can create a new world we can visit as readers.
This story sure does the trick.
In post is part of the Thursday Quotables meme. If you want to discover more about this meme and maybe take part in it, head over to Bookshelf Fantasies
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Barbara In Caneyhead
Makes me want to know what is about to happen! I don’t like super long descriptions about every single detail, but well placed descriptions actually build and add to the suspense. Like nowadays in movies, they go all with gore. But the old scary movies used subtle hints and built suspense until only a “boo” could make you scream.
Barbara from Life & Faith in Caneyhead
I absolutely agree, Barbara, on both sides 😉
I think it’s all about offering the right details. For example, in this excerpt the woman fixing the fire with her head in her hands really set the mood for me. I can see it, and it gives me an emotiong.
This is the kind of descriptions that I love.
Lisa @ Bookshelf Fantasies
Wow, that’s fantastic! I love the description of the candelabra and the flames. Very vivid, and kind of scary too. Nice choice!
There are so many fantastic descriptions in this short story. What I like about them is that they don’t just tell you what something looks like, they always manage to give you a feeling along with the look.