A Rogue Librarian's Reading List

{December 29, 2011}   Somewhere Beneath those Waves by Sarah Monette

Plot: 24 unrelated short stories and 1 poem of fantasy and horror.  

Monette’s short stories are breathtaking. She is an amazing writer: each of the stories in her collection are carefully and purposefully crafted. She can create entire worlds with complex, engaging characters and tell a chilling tale in less than 50 pages, while many novelists fail with 6 times as many.

Amante Dorée tells a spy story set in an alternate history version of Nouvelle Orléan and staring a charming transgendered courtesan. Absent from Felicity is a beautiful, tragic story about Horatio after Hamlet’s death. No Man’s Land was so viceral, without being gory, that I actually felt nauseated. And I’m desperate for more stories about Mick and Jamie, the two agents from the Bureau of Psychic Investigations and the stars of A Night in Electric Squidland and Imposters. (Seriously, how can you resist a story called A Night in Electric Squidland? I think it is physically impossible.)

…I could go on all night. I feel like I’ve neglected so many of my favorites. In fact, I can’t think of a single story that I didn’t enjoy. There are stories of fairies, vampires, dragons, selkies, ghosts, of heroes and of those who stay home and, as she puts it, clean the lamps. They are unique stories and vey troubling because they offer no easy answers, they are about pain and consequences and moving on.

Meanwhile some of the shorter or less linear stories in the collection are almost poems, full of imagery and imbued with meaning. I want to go back and read them a second and a third time if only to see how they’ve changed with a new understanding the whole.

The book also includes a new Booth story (be sure to read her collection of stories about this socially awkward archivist in a Lovecraftian world, The Bone Key), which thrilled me beyond words. It was the first one I read and well worth the read: while struggling with insomnia, Booth stumbles into a timeless night world inhabited by angels, vampires, goblins and shadows. It will surprise you.

So go out and buy this new collection. Go ahead, I’ll wait. But you might want to sleep with the light on. Just in case.

For a taste, you can read some of the stories from this collection on Monette’s website.

Challenges: GLBT Challenge (17)


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