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Somewhere Beneath Those Waves by Sarah…

Somewhere Beneath Those Waves (2011)

by Sarah Monette

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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.
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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 |
It's no secret that I adore Sarah Monette. These stories just gave me more reasons - the ones I hadn't read and the ones I already had. ( )
  jen.e.moore | Mar 30, 2013 |
Monette’s second short story collection (after The Bone Key,2007) is lyrical and evocative. Where the earlier collection was tightly focused around the experiences of one character (Kyle Murchison Booth, who also makes an appearance in one story here), Somewhere Beneath Those Waves is far-reaching and diverse. Monette’s protagonists face magic and despair, hope and everyday life with equally compelling results. Stand-outs in the collection include the title story, in which a selkie and a human woman both find themselves trapped on land; Katabasis: Seraphic Trains, in which a naïve young woman uses a magical gift to save a man who does not deserve her love; and Three Letters from the Queen of Elfland, about the perils of loving the fairy queen. Highly recommended. ( )
1 vote kmaziarz | Jun 23, 2012 |
A collection of absolute treasure. I usually do not get so engrossed in short story collections as I would a novel, but this book made me anxious to see what was next.

25 stories are contained herein. My favorites:

Somewhere Beneath Those Waves: the story of a woman and the selkie who is having an affair with her boyfriend. They join forces to retrieve the selkie's skin. Atmospheric, deliciously creepy.

Amante Dorree: an alternate history where France occupies the South. A transgendered spy walks amongst all worlds and attends to a romance of her own. Intrigue, beauty, and twists.

Seraphic Trains: a woman waits for a magical train to take her to her dead lover. Abounds with gorgeous prose.

The Seance at Chisholm End: A genuine medium brings over a nasty spirit, exposing the dirty laundry of the lady of the house and endangering all. Would love to see this one as a full novel.

Monette creates one fantastical world after the next and they are each so unique. And she indeed "writes like a dream". Her character descriptions make you feel that you are standing in front of them. Her place descriptions are lush or creepy and you feel it.

I heartily recommend this book and it is joining my Monette collection. ( )
  GirlMisanthrope | May 3, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (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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