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Somewhere Beneath Those Waves by Sarah…
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Somewhere Beneath Those Waves (2011)

by Sarah Monette

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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Sarah Monette is pretty much flawless. I can't even try to review this collection, because I just love everything she touches.

WHATEVER WHATEVER I DO WHAT I WANT. ( )
  Stebahnree | Mar 13, 2016 |
Sarah Monette is pretty much flawless. I can't even try to review this collection, because I just love everything she touches.

WHATEVER WHATEVER I DO WHAT I WANT. ( )
  Stebahnree | Mar 13, 2016 |
A frustrating collection of sf/f, with a few non-fantastic stories as well. Some are too heavy-handed, many are too short to do their ideas justice, and all too often Monette leans on technique instead of letting her (quite interesting!) worlds and characters speak for themselves. Still, there are enough ideas in here to fuel dozens of novels, so it's worth reading.

Draco Campestris--A taxonomist categorizes the dragon species contained in a universe-spanning museum, all the while hearing rumors that the Lady Archangel has fallen out of favor with the Empress. Intriguing world building, a lacquer of portentious love affairs and extinction, but actually very, very lightweight. Literally nothing happens; this is just an excuse for Monette to pile up a bunch of descriptions of her imaginary museum.

Queen of Swords--2 page story in which the king's late wives visit his current wife. I wanted this to be spooky but there's just nothing here.

Letter from a teddy bear on Veterans' Day--The brother of a soldier killed in Vietnam remembers trying to come to terms with his brother's death when he was a child, then puts his brother's old teddy bear on the Vietnam Memorial Wall. Maybe if I liked literary fiction I'd like this? But the main character doesn't say anything, or want anything, and there's no plot--this is just the story of him feeling sad and confused as a kid, then looking at the wall as an adult. I dunno.

Under the Beansidhe's Pillow--a 1 page story about a Beandsidhe who is pulled to America by the deaths of the humans she swore to wail for. Nice concept, absolutely no dialog or action or plot or characterization.

The Watcher in the Corners--a young housemaid discovers a murder. Creepy. I'm not sure I bought Lilah's characterization, though.

The Half-sister--Two fated lovers reconcile, as told from the perspective of the heroine's hard working half-sister. The little hints of their society intrigued me, but there's not much story in the She strode out ahead of Gerard, eager for the next adventure I suppose, and I caught his cloak and said, 'When she dies, don't bring her body here.'
I dont' think he understood me, not really, but he understood something, because he nodded and said, a little awkwardly, as if he wasn't used to it, 'Karlin, I'm sorry.'
I shook my head. 'She's made her choice.'
He left then, following her as he would follow her anywhere, and I stayed behind, as I had stayed behind the first time she left. Stayed behind to keep the lamps clean and lit, to keep the household running, to keep carrying the responsibilities Lane had let fall.
I'm no heroine. I don't have a story. And Lane's story is not mine to tell, except for this: she made her choice.

Ashes, Ashes--newlyweds find the bones of an old family tragedy hidden on the family land.

Sidhe Tigers--1 page story about an unloved boy who dreams/knows cold tigers pace through his home. Is it a metaphor or reality? Who knows? Who cares?

A Light in Troy--A slave, a librarian, and a feral child reconcile on a beach. Intriguing world, actual characterization, and the first story I actually liked in the collection.

Amante Doree--An AU of nineteenth century America, in which Napoleonic Emperors own some of America and other European powers struggle for control of other parts, and a courtesan is secretly a spy. She and a shabby English spy investigate the murder of a Bourbon pretender. Probably my favorite of the collection.

Somewhere Beneath Those Waves Was Her Home--A selkie and a neglected wife become allies against the owner of a maritime museum. Fine.

Darkness, as a Bride--An inventor constructs a clockwork virgin to appease a sea monster. I liked the twisty logic the sea monster uses, but the ending ("...they made love on the remains of the rock those manacles had chained her to.
For monsters can love.
Did you doubt it?") is unearned. The sea monster and the clockwork virgin have known each other for less than a page, less than an hour!

Katabasis: Seraphic Trains--After her poet lover's suicide, a musician seeks an audience with those who could bring him back. A modern twist on the tale of Orpheus, but told in an unnecessarily twisty style. The underlying story and ideas are good, but I felt like Monette didn't trust it, and chopped it up and rearranged it non-linearly to make it seem artier and deeper. And then there are the awful section headers (like, "the starling's path", "corrosive kisses", "lying under the gallows-tree"), none of which have anything to do with the sections themselves. And worst of all are the sections that aren't part of the plot but have been inserted anyway, like the one that reads simply "Regardless of what you may be told, there is no phantom in the city opera house." or another which is a list of things lost in the city and never recovered (3 canvases by a surrealist painter, the diary of a novelist that was burned before her suicide, a key to the secret room in the house at 549 Grosvenor Avenue, a packet of Agathe Ombree rose seeds...). None of it adds to the story. It just makes it seem more pretentious. It's frustrating, because beneath all the frippery there's a solid story and interesting characters.

Fiddelback Ferns--A short, funny story about a mother who starts a war on her garden's weeds.

Three Letters from the Queen of Elfland--A newlywed finds love letters from the Queen of Elfland to his bride. Quite good.

Night Train: Heading West--a poem of a woman playing solitaire while a conductor tells the passengers about the other times he's died. I have no idea why anyone would want to read this, or why Monette wrote it.

The Seance at Chisholm End--A housemaid helps a medium after his seance reveals too much. Good because it's not overwrought.

No Man's Land--A soldier wakes up in the body of an enemy soldier of the opposite gender. Interesting.

A Night in Electric Squidland and Imposters--Mick and Jamie, agents of the Bureau of Paranormal Investigations, work various paranormal cases. Plot AND characterization AND world building. Monette is good when she doesn't get so bogged down in ~dark word play~ that she forgets to provide an actual story.

Straw--A cool twist on the idea of fated heroes and villains.

Absent from Felicity--Horatio falls into bed with Fortinbras, now that his love Hamlet is dead. Short, but I liked the perspective on Hamlet.

The World Without Sleep--An insomniac stumbles into a city where it always night, and goblins, vampires, and angels live in an uneasy alliance. I liked the strange relationships between the races, but I didn't like the main character, who doesn't have much personality and says "er" in every single sentence he speaks.

After the Dragon--A woman defeats a dragon, but the fight takes her beauty and hand. She fights her way back to feeling grateful for her body. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
I am a fan of Sarah Monette. At this point, I’ve read all her books save one – which I’ve got on the way to me right now. Her aesthetic resonates with me strongly.

‘Draco Campestris’ – A mood piece describing a museum which displays the bones of dragons. Full of lovely and disturbing details.

‘Queen of Swords’ - A king’s new bride is haunted by the ghosts of his previous wives.

‘Letter from a Teddy Bear on Veterans Day’ – A story about mourning a brother who was lost in Vietnam, and how that death tore a family apart.

‘Under the Beansidhe’s Pillow’ – Short-short about a supernatural creature moved by the plight of Irish immigrants.

‘The Watcher in the Corners’ – The child of a wealthy southern family (in the 1950s?) has disappeared. The sheriff interviews the young servant of the household. She doesn’t know what’s happened – but since she boy’s gone missing, the house seems haunted by a hostile presence. This story gets a lot of nuance and depth into a fairly standard horror plotline.

‘The Half-Sister’ – In a feudal/fantasy setting, a young woman deals with her half-sister’s decision to go back to a husband that she believes is abusive. Is he actually abusive? We don’t know, for sure, but the story perfectly captures the sorrow and rage of this situation.

‘Ashes, Ashes’ – A pregnant woman uncovers skeletons in the closet (well, skeletons, but not actually in a closet) when she moves into her husband’s childhood home.

‘Sidhe Tigers’ – short-short that perfectly captures the feeling of night terrors (as opposed to nightmares).

‘A Light in Troy’ – A fortress taken by conquerors. A woman, now a slave, part of the spoils of war. A child survivor. A librarian, who’s not a bad person, despite being one of those conquerors.

‘Amante Doree’ – In old New Orleans, a transgender courtesan gets involved in complicated politics and even more complicated emotions.

‘Somewhere Beneath Those Waves Was Her Home’ – in a seaside town, a woman is caught in a loveless marriage, a selkie is trapped by the cruel man who has stolen and hidden her skin, and a creepy museum curator hold the spirits of female ship’s figureheads in his gallery. When the three elements come together, all will gain their freedom.

‘Darkness, As a Bride’ - Unwilling to give up a flesh-and-blood woman to a sea monster that demands the sacrifice of virgins, a town creates a female automaton.

‘Katabasis: Seraphic Trains’ – A modern retelling of the story of Persephone in the underworld. Except the message (skillfully and non-annoyingly delivered) here is that sometimes a piece-of-crap guy isn’t worth venturing into hell for, and that young women should learn to value themselves and their art – which is likely to be of more value than that of any self-styled arrogant, snotty Orpheus. Every teenager with a crush on some rock-star wannabe should read this.

‘Fiddleback Ferns’ – Weeds. Taking over. They can lead to extreme actions.

‘Three Letters From The Queen of Elfland’ – A husband flies into a fit of rage when he discovers letters, clearly from a lover, in his wife’s possession. The explanation is heartwrenching.

‘Night Train, Heading West’ – a poem.

‘The Séance at Chisholm End’ – I learned a new word: ‘epergne’! And also very much enjoyed this tale of a medium who uncovers a cruel woman’s secret crimes, and the housekeeper who runs off with him.

‘No Man’s Land’ – An injured soldier mysteriously wakes up in the body of a woman fighting on the other side. His new body is horribly damaged, showing signs of not only battle wounds, but rape and torture. He knows that it is ‘his’ side that has done these atrocious things. Yet, there seems to be no option but to adjust and carry on, now fighting on the other side. There isn’t much difference, really.

‘National Geographic on Assignment: Mermaids of the Old West’ – just one page. The title says it – read it.

‘A Night in Electric Squidland’ and ‘Imposters’ – both of these are Monette’s ‘buddy-cop’ supernatural adventures featuring the investigators Mick and Jamie. Rather different from most of the stories in this book; I’d recommend them more for fans of True Blood and urban/paranormal fantasy.

‘Straw’ – Monette mentions this was based on a dream, and it has that feel. Something terrible has happened in the word. Two random strangers were drawn together by that event, psychically joined, caught in something larger than either of them. Now, they are both in a psychiatric hospital, damaged. Can they survive… or transform?

‘Absent from Felicity’ – A reimagining of elements of ‘Hamlet.’

‘The World Without Sleep’ – Kyle Murchison booth (readers will recognize him from the stories in ‘The Bone Key’) ventures into a dark land inhabited by vampires, goblins and ‘shadows,’ bound, without time, into a bizarre and unhealthy relationship.

‘After the Dragon’ – the only story here that I felt was a bit heavy-handed. A woman terribly mutilated by a dragon attack meets a cancer survivor in physical therapy, and regains the will to live and to love her body.
( )
1 vote AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
I've never been much for short stories, but as Sarah Monette has become one of my favourite authors over the years, I couldn't resist delving into this collection of her shorter works. Each story, whatever its length, seems carefully crafted; each word chosen with the meticulousness and attention to detail evident in her novels. I won't say that I liked every story; there were some that I just couldn't get into, but overall I enjoyed reading this. It was a nice mix of dark fantasy (both urban and faery), sci-fi (I'll never think of museums in the same way), and horror (dark and stilted and claustrophobic). And there's something for everyone: occult buddy-cops and selkies and ugly mediums and soldiers and gender-bending French spies and lesbian lovers of the Queen of Faery and downtrodden maids and suicidal musicians. There are some unforgettable characters and engaging worlds here, and the stories provide just a teasing glimpse of them. ( )
  semjaza | Nov 6, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Somewhere Beneath Those Waves is one of the better collections of this year, and I would recommend it to fans of speculative fiction that like intertextual, thematically crunchy, and entertaining stories.
added by nsblumenfeld | editTor.com, Brit Mandelo (Nov 23, 2011)
 
Though the tales vary in theme and tone, there is not a weak note in the collection, and both fans and new readers will be drawn into Monette’s strange and imaginative worlds.
added by nsblumenfeld | editPublishers Weekly (Nov 7, 2011)
 
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"Monette's diverse collection delves deeply into the mythic and reaches far beyond everyday reality. Readers cannot resist journeying with her into realms--dangerously dark or illuminatingly revelatory--they could never imagine without her as their guide. From ghost stories in the tradition of M.R. James to darkly poetic tales to moving fictional examinations of the most basic of human emotion--fear, love, hate, loneliness--Monette's pen produces stories that are invariably unforgettable."--P. [4] of cover.… (more)

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