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Reviewed by Robin Goodfellow for Readers' Favorite
The Demon of Decay by Alex C. Gates is a religious-themed horror story about how easy it can be to corrupt someone just from their deepest desires. Joseph “Joe” Daniels is struggling to impregnate his wife, Victoria. He’s sitting in a doctor’s office getting tested when he meets his former pastor, a man who murdered his daughter’s ex-boyfriend. The encounter spurs him to go see his aunt and uncle, both of whom need help. After convincing Victoria to go with him, the two head to the house. However, the moment he sets foot in their home, he’s horrified by how much things have changed. His beloved aunt is dying, as is his town. As time passes, he notices a decadence eating away at the residents, a decadence that eventually catches up to him and Victoria. In this dark story, Gates delivers a simple message about what happens when humans decide to chain themselves to their lusts, all the while ignoring their crumbling morality.
I loved Victoria and Joseph. Victoria took a traditionally masculine role in order to support their growing family, which, according to Joseph, left him with nothing. It shows just how deeply embedded his expectations were. He felt useless. At the very least, he wanted to give Victoria what she wanted, so much so he almost killed for it. But more than that, he would do whatever it took to regain some amount of control in their relationship. And it was at that moment when the Demon of Decay was able to take over. After all, it turned an entire town upside down, dragging its residents to hell, so what was one more person?
Joseph's problem is a struggle that many men could relate to. So much value has been placed on fertility in order to cement a man’s masculinity, and to have someone or something take that away is frightening. What's more, he isn't alone in his thinking. An entire town turned against their loved ones and themselves. Family units were degraded and societal conventions were tossed aside, all for the sake of people's wants. Right and wrong are reversed, all in the guise of a medication that promises to cure everyone of their diseases, physical or psychological. Even so, Gates still reminds us that there is no easy way out, whether it be some medicine, or promise, or even a misguided faith.