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Stagestruck Vampires & Other Phantasms    by Suzy McKee Charnas order for
Stagestruck Vampires & Other Phantasms
by Suzy McKee Charnas
Order:  USA  Can
Tachyon, 2004 (2004)

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* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Suzy McKee Charnas has been writing dark fantasy and horror for over twenty years. She has created an eclectic mix of fiction, while gathering numerous awards and accolades for her writing. Stagestruck Vampires & Other Phantasms is a collection of work from an author 'known for her lush prose, dry wit and compelling re-interpretations of myths and fairy tales'.

While the title is a bit misleading (there are only three vampire stories lurking within the pages), every story and essay in this volume is mesmerizing. Charnas's re-telling of Phantom of the Opera is particularly engrossing. Set mostly in underground Paris, the tale recounts the five years a young singer spends 'imprisoned' and matching wits with her often twisted 'maestro'. Another, Unicorn Tapestry, finds a middle-aged psychotherapist analyzing ancient vampire, Edward Lewis Weyland. After only a few sessions, she's both fascinated and repelled by her patient's contempt for humanity.

This collection also features more recent tales, most notably Peregrines. It's the mystical account of a young shaman finding his true path in a corrupted world. Advocates is another strong story that Charnas co-authored with Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. It features an interesting confrontation between Charnas's popular vampire character, Weyland, and Yarbro's famous Comte St. Germain. Charnas also includes an in-depth, enlightening essay about her years-long struggle to stage Unicorn Tapestry. Every story in this compelling collection is hard to forget, making Stagestruck Vampires & Other Phantasms a very worthy addition to your keeper shelf.

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