"The Blood Like Wine" by Sarah A. Hoyt
"Waking Nights" by Jennifer Quail
"Stolen Senses" by Sherrie Brown
Dreams of Decadence is alternately titled "Vampire Poetry and Fiction", and that is what the editors deliver. This issue contains three short works of fiction and five poems, all about the dark world of the undead.
The first tale is entitled "The Blood Like Wine" by Sarah A. Hoyt and resonates with the dream world created by Ann Rice and her vampire novels. Sylvia is a vampire who entered the world of the undead while a young woman during the height of the terror of the French revolution. And she has left behind her only true love, an aristocrat named Francois whom she betrayed to the guillotine. Cursed by his spirit, she now must wander the Earth trying to erase her sin by fulfilling his command that she will walk the world as a vampire until all of the undead are destroyed. And so she strives to accomplish that, even though she knows she cannot succeed.
"Waking Nights" by Jennifer Quail likewise is a study in ghostly curses and nightly hauntings. Jozef is a vampire who dared to love the daughter of a nobleman. Rather than allowing this unholy union to blossom, her father impales her on a stake. The years pass as Jozef grieves, only to learn that his lady love walks the Earth as a ghost. Can he now reclaim her?
The last, and best tale, is "Stolen Senses" by Sherrie Brown. Ms. Jenkins is born blind, deaf and dumb, but has established herself as an artist and poet as a means of making a living. As a child she was a ready-made victim for physical and sexual abuse while growing up in state custody, and is a cynical and bitter woman. Then a vampire, a beast really, breaks into her tiny apartment to feed, and converts her to one of the undead. But at the same time he "cures" the defects of her senses. And she soon learns that once she has fed on the blood of a living person, she "steals" their memories and senses for a short time. And so she revels in the sensations of sight and sound, killing at random to steal her new ability for a night. But she soon realizes the horror she has become, as brutal and uncaring as those who had brutalized her as a child. And so she must choose another course.
Overall, Dreams of Decadence does not break any new gound, but it does offer a compelling glimpse into the dark, languid world of the undead. For those who care for this, Dreams of Decadence is unique in this regard, and is well worth their time.
Jim Reichert has been a reviewer for Tangent for many years on such periodicals as Analog, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Odyssey, Talebones, Dragon, Weird Tales and Space & Time. He's a government lawyer specializing in the field of child abuse prosecutions, and lives with his wife and family in a rural area of southern Delaware. He's been an avid fan of speculative fiction all his life, and has been writing short stories and novels for 5-10 years on a sporadic basis. His first fiction was published last year in the e-zine Dark Matter Chronicles.