Thursday, April 14, 2022

The Secret History of Vampires

THE SECRET HISTORY OF VAMPIRES (2007), edited by Darrell Schweitzer and Martin H. Greenberg, brings to mind Greenberg's THE TIME OF THE VAMPIRES (1996), another anthology of stories about vampires in different eras of the past. SECRET HISTORY, however, focuses more particularly on the theme of the undead meeting important historical persons at the nexus of pivotal events. As Schweitzer's introduction speculates, if immortal vampires manipulated events from the shadows through past centuries, what agendas might they have?

This all-original anthology starts with "Under St. Peter's," by bestselling alternate history writer Harry Turtledove. Most readers will probably guess the identity of the prisoner hidden under Vatican City well before the end, but the revelation is still grimly effective. In "A Princess of Spain," by Carrie Vaughn, we learn the truth behind the death of Prince Arthur, first husband of Catherine of Aragon. "Garbo Quits," by Ron Goulart, reveals why Greta Garbo's acting career ended. Gregory Frost, in "Ill-Met in Ilium," renders in narrative poetry an untold episode from the Trojan War. "Two Hunters in Manhattan," by Mike Resnick, takes place early in Teddy Roosevelt's career, while serving as the New York Commissioner of Police. "Sepulchres of the Undead," by Keith Taylor, is set in ancient Egypt. Saint Anthony appears as a vampire fighting his curse in "The Temptation of Saint Anthony," by Brian Stableford. P. D. Cacek, Sarah A. Hoyt, Tanith Lee, and John Gregory Betancourt, among others, also appear in the roster of contributors. Napoleon, Lenin, Helen of Troy, and Cleopatra are some of the other historical figures we meet.

My personal favorite is Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's "Harpy," set in ancient Greece, wherein her immortal Count Saint-Germain grants us a fresh perspective on the unfairly maligned wife of a famed philosopher. My only complaint about THE SECRET HISTORY OF VAMPIRES concerns the arrangement of the stories. Why aren't they printed in chronological order instead of scattered through the millennia seemingly at random?

Margaret L. Carter

Please explore love among the monsters at Carter's Crypt.