Dream Signs: Stories by Melanie Bell

I love to dream. Every night, it’s a different story, different place, different people. I also like to read stories that are dream-like in nature. Call it speculative fiction, if you wish as anything can happen in any of these stories by Melanie Bell, a Canadian-born (PEI) author who now lives in the UK. Dream Signs is a collection of short stories and a novella that have been previously published in a variety of literary publications.

“First November Frost” gets right into the dream theme as it begins with the line “She was swimming naked.” Is the woman drowning? Trying to drown herself? It is November in the story, but we never really know the answer. There’s “Mira” a story about a sex worker that enchants the narrator so much that she follows her into the pay-for-sex world of make-believe. The title story is of a girl who takes to lucid dreaming to get back the lover she left when she goes to university.

I'd left that forest, that romance, three provinces away from campus. I'd taken to lucid dreaming to get it back. The forums were full of upstarts posting about dream sex with the celebrity du jour and their plans to start a communal dream colony on the dream moon. Me? I was after true love.

“The Castle of Mirrors” reads like an Aesop’s Fable of two narcissists who love the reflections they see of themselves in the lake on which they live, much to their detriment — or everlasting happiness, depending on how you interpret the story. “Without” is about two sisters, Corina and Kate. While Corina goes off to Thailand to teach street kids photography, Kate is left working at a PEI gift shop as her summer job. Then a man with a camera comes calling at Kate’s house one day…

“Like Mother, Like Son” is a great example of speculative fiction, and one that is not too far-fetched given the advancements in AI. Peter is a computer program that Mom (a coding genius) has created to monitor the city’s infrastructure for defects and makes the needed repairs. Then, while Mom sleeps, Peter creates a city of his own and makes connections to other AI programs. “Were you dreaming all this time?” Mom asks him. “The Cliffman” is yet another fine speculative fiction story with so many dream signs that portray natural objects (like the cliffman) as a sentient sentinel who cares for the land and tries to recruit a young girl as his student (or perhaps as his replacement). That’s how I interpret it, anyhow.

Dream Signs is a satisfying collection of stories, good escapist reading for those who like their short fiction to unfold in a non-linear way.

Melanie Bell grew up in rural Prince Edward Island, Canada. The author of a short story collection, Dream Signs, and a nonfiction book, The Modern Enneagram, she got her start self-publishing poetry books as charity fundraisers. She has worked as a freelance and in-house editor, taught writing at Academy of Art University in San Francisco, and written for magazines, websites, and anthologies such as Cicada, Autostraddle, Contrary, Huffington Post. She is a certified teacher of the Enneagram personality typology.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Lost Fox Publishing (Nov. 18 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 216 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1954683049
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1954683044

James M. Fisher is the owner and editor-in-chief of The Miramichi Reader. He began TMR in 2015, realizing that there was a genuine need for more book reviews of Canadian literature. It has since become Canada’s best-regarded source for the finest in new literary releases. James has been interviewed about TMR on CBC Radio and other media sites. James works as a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Technologist and lives in Miramichi, New Brunswick with his wife Diane and their tabby cat Eddie.