Book Review: The Overneath by Peter S. Beagle
I’m going to post a few reviews really rapid-fire for a few days because there are several I read ARCs for recently that have just released or are releasing with the next week, and I want to be sure to share about them while they’re still top of mind for me!!
|My Rating: 4 Stars|
Summary: An odd couple patrols a county full of mythological beasts and ornery locals. A familiar youngster from the world of The Last Unicorn is gifted in magic but terrible at spell-casting. A seemingly incorruptible judge meets his match in a mysterious thief who steals his heart. Two old friends discover that the Overneath goes anywhere, including locations better left unvisited.
Lyrical, witty, and insightful, The Overneath is Peter S. Beagle’s much-anticipated return to the short form. In these uniquely beautiful and wholly original tales, with new and uncollected work, Beagle once again proves himself a master of the imagination.
Review: J’adore. An incredible collection of short stories with viewpoints and flavors from all over the globe. I don’t normally care very much for short story collections, and this one had its share of stories I absolutely loved and other that I slogged through waiting for them to be over (like most short story collections inevitably do.)
• “The Green-Eyed Boy” It’s funny because I had just recently been talking to someone about examples of the second person narrative. This is a lovely story about Schmendrick the Magician (whom you may remember from The Last Unicorn) and his origins. As a child, I loved Schmendrick in the movie of The Last Unicorn, and I’m a little ashamed to say I haven’t actually read the book. Reading about Schmendrick in this short story made me resolve to read The Last Unicorn, and soon. 5 bright, shiny stars full of childhood wonder.
• “The Story of Kao Yu” Set in China and featuring the Chinese unicorn, the chi-lin. This short story read like some of my favorite fairy tales, and makes me wonder if this is entirely out of Beagle’s head, or based on a Chinese fable? I give this story 4 imperial stars.
• “My Son Heydari and the Karkadann” Set in Persia, this story features the Karkadann, the Arabian unicorn that is “powerful, pitilessly aggressive, and ugly as fried sin” (or so writes Peter S. Beagle). Another second person narrative, this story is told from the point of view of the father of the (for lack of a better term) hero of the story, Heydari. I didn’t care much for this story, 2 stinky Karkadann stars.
• “The Queen Who Could Not Walk” Loved this story, it touched my heart in a number of ways. What the heck is up with their system of governance though?! Reads like a traditional, classic fairy tale with characters known only as the beggar woman, the queen, the king, and the servant. The ending was one of those bitter sweet ones that just hit you right in the feels. 5 sweetly sad stars.
• “Trinity County, CA: You’ll Want to Come Again and We’ll Be Glad to See You!” Set in an alternate modern-day California where drug traffickers use dragons to protect their labs, as well as trafficking illegally in dragons themselves. Gruber works as a county D Patrol (dragon patrol) officer and Connie is intern on her first day on the job. I loved this story, and would happily read a full novel set in this world; preferably about Connie and Gruber, but about another set of characters as well. 5 fire-proof stars.
• “The Way It Works Out and All” Didn’t care for this one as much, it was jumbly and confusing – Which, to be fair, I’m pretty sure it was supposed to be. 2 stars.
• “Kaskia” …Not sure what I just read, but I think I liked it?? 4-ish stars?
• “Schmendrick Alone” YAY SCHMENDRICK! All the Schmendrick, all the time! I just want to hug him up and tell him it will all be okay. 5 stars with tears in their eyes.
• “Great-Grandmother in the Cellar” Amazing story. That’s all I can say. 5 bones… I mean stars.
• “Underbridge” As a lover of children’s books, I loved this story. Super uncomfortable, but loved it. Because trolls, man. TROLLS. 5 stone stars.
• “The Very Nasty Aquarium” I love the note in the preface that “This one began as an intriguing title, with absolutely no story to go with it.” Way to come up with a killer story, Mr. Beagle. Just wow. Loved this, and I want to be Mrs. Bascomb when I grow up, but I will probably end up being Mrs. Lopsided. 5 sinister stars.
• “Music, When Soft Voices Die” Found myself skimming this one just to get to the end. Not sure if the story itself wasn’t for me, of if I’m just growing tired of short stories. Angelos did remind me the teensiest bit of Schmendrick in his bumbling, well-meaning way, but I can still only give this story 1 skimming star.
• “Olfert Dapper’s Day” Read the first couple pages of this and didn’t even skim the rest. It just did not capture my attention.
*I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.