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Somewhere Beneath Those Waves

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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 . . .

336 pages, Kindle Edition

First published November 13, 2011

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About the author

Sarah Monette

90 books869 followers
My pseudonym is Katherine Addison. Katherine reviews nonfiction. Sarah reviews fiction. Fair warning: I read very little fiction these days.

I was born and raised in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, one of the secret cities of the Manhattan Project. I studied English and Classics in college, and have gone on to get my M.A. and Ph.D. in English Literature. My first four novels were published by Ace Books. I have written two collaborations with Elizabeth Bear for Tor: A Companion to Wolves and The Tempering of Men. My short stories have appeared in lots of different places, including Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, Weird Tales, and Strange Horizons; I've published two collections of short stories, Somewhere Beneath Those Waves and The Bone Key. I collect books, and my husband collects computer parts, so our living space is the constantly contested border between these two imperial ambitions.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 85 reviews
Profile Image for Mir.
4,869 reviews5,035 followers
August 7, 2016
I ordered this because I thought there were further Kyle Murchison Booth stories included. In fact, there is only one, "The World Without Sleep." I see why that wasn't published in The Bone Key, as it is far more fantastical than the other Booth stories.

I was a little disappointed that there weren't more stories with Booth, but other than that I enjoyed the volume and thought most of the stories were good. I few, if one wished to quibble, seemed more thought pieces than stories, and a few were more like seeds of novels yet to be written. I thought the latter was especially true of "Seance at Chisholm End" and the two Mick and Jamie stories (a note from the author indicates that at least one more BPI story is written and others intended). "Amant Doree" stood on its own as a story but the main character could definitely have more spy adventures.

Overall, interesting and well written. I would potentially recommend this for fans of Kelly Link's short stories; I would say that Link is a slightly better prose stylist but Monette a stronger plotter. They definitely share some influences, such as Angela Carter.
Profile Image for Angela.
468 reviews9 followers
August 23, 2012
One of the things I am noticing about reviews for this book is that everyone is coming away with a different experience. For some, these are stories of horrors, nightmares and supernatural dreamscapes. Though I can see those elements present in many of the stories, Somewhere Beneath Those Waves is, for me, a collection of love stories.

They are not always straightforward, and they do not always have happy endings. There is darkness, there is tragedy, but above all there are glimmers of hope…often damaged, or broken, but still shining nonetheless, taking the first tentative steps towards regrowth.

I love Sarah Monette. As I have mentioned before in reviews of her work, she is one of those authors who, for me, can do no wrong. Somewhere Beneath Those Waves is a beautiful collection, whose works will linger in my thoughts for some time to come.

My personal favorites from the collection:
Letters from a Teddy Bear on Veteran’s Day
Amante Doree
Katabasis: Seraphic Trains (by far my favorite)
No Man's Land
The World Without Sleep (a Kyle Murchison Booth story, for those familiar wtih the character)
Absent from Felicity
After the Dragon

These are stories that I know I’ll return to again and again in the future. Each time, I can see myself discovering something new about them, taking away something different, having their experience added to.

The best summation I could hope for of Monette and this work comes from the introduction by fellow author Elizabeth Bear (another of my personal favorites). In it, she writes

“Sarah’s stories are often—usually—the stories of awkward outsiders…. They are people who are too strong, too introverted, too queer, too transgendered, too haunted, too political, too feral. Her heroes and heroines are aliens in their own worlds, bemused and lonely, and still trying to find connection to other people—some way, some how.

“So, what you hold in your hands is the first non-themed collection of the short fiction of one Sarah Monette, poet of the awkward and the uncertain, exalter of the outcast, the outré, and the downright weird. There is nothing else quite like it. And no matter how strange and alienated you may feel, there is room in her world for you.”

And that world, I assure you, is beautiful.
Profile Image for Wealhtheow.
2,448 reviews548 followers
April 3, 2013
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 <4 pages, and the conceit of telling the epic story from an outside POV is exhausted by the ham-fisted last lines.

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.
Profile Image for Kate O'Hanlon.
336 reviews32 followers
January 1, 2018
I didn't really start reading short stories until about a year and a half ago and Sarah Monette is one of the writers who prompted me to take the genre seriously.

There is so much to love in this collection. Monette has such a strange and wonderful imagination and is as skilled in crafting slow, poignant characters studies about grief like 'Letter from a Teddy Bear on Veterans' Day' and 'Absent from Felicity' as she is telling more action packed, plotty, stories like 'A Night in Electric Squidland' and 'Impostors.' The latter two stories introduced me to Jamie and Mike, partners working for the Bureau of Paranormal Investigation, who I loved. I look forward to more stories about them.

The collection also contains story notes in the back if you're the sort of person who's into that kind of thing (and I assuredly am).

Some story-by-story reviews below the spoiler tags
Profile Image for Althea Ann.
2,233 reviews1,047 followers
June 22, 2013
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.
Profile Image for April Steenburgh.
Author 11 books17 followers
December 2, 2011
"On the landing, the roses of the Queen of Elfland, as clamorous as trumpets, continued to shout their glory to the uncomprehending house." ('Sarah Monette, Somewhere Beneath Those Waves, pg 185)

Like the Queen of Elfland's roses, the stories contained in 'Somewhere Beneath Those Waves' will sing out their glory long after the reader had turned the final page. Contained within are captive figureheads and selkies, dragons and dreams and all the hopes and nightmares caught in between. The stories whisper of love and terror, and kept me up late into the night with a driving need to keep reading. The stories are all so very different, but are told in such a starkly elegant voice a reader cannot help but be compelled to pay attention.

For me, the stories that stood out most were 'Three Letters from the Queen of Elfland'- a haunting story about love and lust and reasons humans are not meant to love faeries, 'Katabasis: Seraphic Trains'- an atmospheric and elegant piece about inspiration and the darker corners of human motivation, 'Amante Doree'- an almost historical piece with spies and issues of gender and acceptance, 'Under the Beansidhe's Pillow'- a short, gorgeous piece about the bits of culture and its spirits that immigrated to America, and both 'A Night in Electric Squidland' and 'Imposters'- two stunning bits of urban fantasy with truly likable characters.

This collection should be on everyone's shelf. It has a story for everyone, from fairy tale to horror and back again, each story unique and yet somehow still pulling the collection together as a whole.
Profile Image for Amanda.
840 reviews343 followers
April 2, 2016
Maybe Kij Johnson's At the Mouth of the River of Bees has ruined subsequent short story collections for me; maybe I didn't love Monette's writing. In either case I think a lot of readers would love this. Horror, fantasy, poetry, gay characters, trans characters, strong characters, dragons, ghosts, angels, mermaids, soldiers, nightmares and nothing felt repetitive. If this sounds like your cup of tea, give this a try asap.
Profile Image for Nighteye.
940 reviews48 followers
April 20, 2019
This anthology raises a lot of questions and I've got to go true some of the stories again and again to find the sometimes hidden meanings I think of. Like it. Some of these stories are deep and cuts you when reading them. Sarah have a way to capture feelings very well. I'm not a fan of ghost stories and in here there is a lot but some where good.
My favorites was Three letters from the queen of Elflands (a hard read), Katabasis: The septic train, Amante Dorée (cut me hard), The watcher in the corners, Somwhere beneth those wases was her home (really sad story), Imposters (so creepy), The world without sleep (good and cool urban fantasy setting), Draco Campestris (always like museums as I've worked in one), After the dragon (good).

Most of the longer stories I like. some good ones and some less intresting ones or to short to stuck just describing one of a few moments in a story. It feel's a bit strange as I don't often like supernatural or ghost stories and tend to aviood those but several have been in here. No overall theme but that I already knew from the introduction, I like the ones set cleraly in a fantasy realm better than the historical or contemporary fictional pieces in here."

Overall good but was bit strange read for me, defenitly not what I'm used to read. Some stories have bit deep when I got the insight into them or found out more about what Sarah wanted to say. Not all have supernatural elements and some I feel may be New Wierd as I get a bit of vibes of Elizabeth Hand Erranty into this.
Profile Image for April.
67 reviews35 followers
April 2, 2012
I picked up this lovely book by Sarah Monette because I've read her Doctrine of Labyrinth series as well as A Companion to Wolves (with Elizabeth Bear.) She has a very lyrical style without getting too bogged down in the description. And she loves to write about queer characters. Her characters also tend to have an Otherness to them that I can identify with.

This collection grows in strength as it continues. One of the things that I disliked about the stories is that Monette's heroes and heroines didn't make the decisions I would have. They let the ills of life wash over them and just accepted their fates. The characters, and therefore stories, I liked most were the ones who showed inner strength in the face of adversity. Some crumpled up, said no to true love, let The One walk away... and I didn't enjoy those stories, which is why this collection is rated a 3.5 even though the last few stories were very strong.

Some favorites:
A Light in Troy- dark tone, sad story... but at the end of the day even the conquerors are human and this story shows how it's possible to move on from losing everything.

No Man's Land- interestingly enough, one of her darker stories in the collection. But dark in the way I like it. Without revealing too much, let's just say it's a war story and an identity story with a bit of irony thrown in.

A Night in Electric Squidland/ Impostors- she says she has more stories in her head about these guys, and I hope she writes them. A paranormal investigation duo working together? Yeah, we've seen hundreds of those. But these guys have a certain je ne sais quoi together that really makes them fun to read about.

After the Dragon- a girl gets a new lease on life after she realizes that, for better or worse, she can't be what she was before. But maybe that's a good thing.

I wanted to like Three Letters from the Queen of Elfland, but instead it became one of my least favorites of the collection. This is part of what I alluded to above and I'm not going to spoil. It's an amazing story up until the end.

Overall, Monette impressed me, partially by making the stories stronger as I read. I would recommend this to someone who already likes her writing, or to someone who likes bittersweet, cross-genre stuff.
Profile Image for Rudi Landmann.
124 reviews12 followers
June 17, 2012
This is an eclectic and intriguing collection of short stories, almost all of them speculative fiction of one kind or another. Like most anthologies, I found it to be a mixed bag in terms of what appealed to me, but I'll call out a few stories here that I particularly enjoyed:

"Three Letters from the Queen of Elfland" and "Katabasis: Seraphic Trains", although wildly different stories both carried incredible emotional punch. The former is, in my opinion, Faerie done right: wild and seductive. The latter is a noir urban fantasy full of great imagery that had me imagining scenes from the story for weeks afterwards.

I could have taken or left the story told in "Amante Dorée", but the setting (an alternate-history version of French New Orleans) and the characters that inhabit it were so vivid and compelling that I never wanted it to end. I would lap up a novel or series of novels in this world.

I enjoyed "The Séance at Chisholm End" as a good, old-fashioned ghost story. A bit predictable, but for that, very comfortable.

Finally, my favourite was "Letter from a Teddy Bear on Veterans' Day", which is hardly (if at all) a speculative fiction piece. A wrenching depiction of loss. This story alone would be worth the whole anthology. Quite amazing.

I was sufficiently impressed that I will be sure to take a look at some of Monette's longer fiction sometime soon.
Profile Image for Bec.
2 reviews
November 6, 2012
This little collection illustrates everything I love about Sarah Monette. She has the rare gift of being able to write horrifying, poignant, and haunting stories that don't feel gaudy or trite. Although none of her tales feature the gratuitous gore that tends to come with horror stories, the flashes of brutality she intersperses with lyrical storytelling are all the more compelling because of their rarity.

In contrast to the reviewer below who doesn't like the choices made by some of the 'heroes and heroines' of the stories, I feel that many of these stories ring true because the protagonists are not really heroes or heroines at all. Love doesn't always conquer duty, people do not always make the right decisions or the courageous ones, but in the end each of Monette's characters learns something or finds some sort of truth which will allow them to endure, however imperfectly.

I loved all the stories, but some really stuck in my mind.'Letter From A Teddy Bear on Veteran's Day' is a beautiful, tragic piece which was captivating from start to finish. 'A Night in Electric Squidland' and 'Imposters' were great fun, and just show that the buddy-cop trope can be done delightfully well. 'No Man's Land' was one of my favourites, though also one of the darkest and most disturbing of the stories. Oh, and 'Amante Doree' was in turns funny, tender and heartbreaking.
Profile Image for Delaney.
1,301 reviews12 followers
April 10, 2017
I love Sarah Monette's lyric prose, and her characterizations are diverse and wonderful. Definitely didn't expect these to be as creepy as they were, but man, "The Watcher in the Corners" got me. (It didn't help that RIGHT after I finished reading that story, I noticed that when I pull the nightlight out of the socket in my bathroom I've been scratching the wall, and I SWEAR THE SCRATCHES SPELL "MOVE" HOW CREEPY IS THAT SHIT.) Also, while Sidhe stories aren't my favorite, these weren't horrible, so that's a plus.

Favorite stories:

"Letter from a Teddy Bear on Valentine's Day"
"Amante Doree"
"Somewhere Beneath Those Waves Was Her Home"
"Three Letters from the Queen of Elfland"
"The Seance at Chisholm End"
"A Night in Electric Squidland"
"The World Without Sleep"
"After the Dragon"

You'll notice that that is almost all the stories in this collection. That's about right.

Profile Image for Nic.
288 reviews4 followers
July 16, 2012
A compilation of short stories, well thought out, and exquisitely written. Each story will draw you in and leave you feeling breathless. They are magical, thought provoking stories ranging on many varied topics. The darker stories, which I usually shy away from, always had a yearning for hope and goodness. There was always a glimmering light, to leady you out, again. The relieved, happy feeling you experience after you've just woken from a bad dream, that was my experience with many of these stories. I left this book feeling very happy about life, and the enormous, beautiful possibilities that each day of life brings.
Profile Image for Dawn.
1,269 reviews60 followers
September 29, 2014
I am not an existing fan of this authors but I saw the beautiful cover and I'm always happy to read a collection of short stories, especially as an introduction to a new author.

This collection was a mixed bag for me. Some of the stories were boring and if I had rated them on their own I would have rated them 2 star but some of the stories were so good I wished they had a collection of their own and I could read more about the characters and worlds.
It was an enjoyable read, though I am not sure it has convinced me that I need to read further works from this author.
Profile Image for Katie M..
400 reviews15 followers
June 8, 2012
I like Sarah Monette, and she's a totally competent author, but something about these stories just seemed a little - I don't know, conventional? - for a writer who is described in the introduction as "a poet of the awkward and the uncertain, exalter of the outcast, the outre, and the downright weird." Really? In a world where Rikki Ducornet exists, I'm not sure how most of these stories could pass as anything more than tame. But none of them were bad, and a few of them were even quite good. It was all just a little bit... forgettable.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
497 reviews10 followers
September 21, 2012
I couldn't finish this book. I tried, I really did. I don't think it has anything to do with her writing, I think I was just expecting something else. I didn't like how some of the more interesting stories ended quickly with hardly any explanation and others that weren't my cup of tea were more drawn out.
Profile Image for Sue.
386 reviews11 followers
March 9, 2021
I read The Bone Key, her interlinked collection of stories, so I was excited to find this 2nd collection. The stories and poems were almost universally solid, and in some cases, brilliant. A solid collection, well worth seeking out.
Profile Image for Amanda Rose.
74 reviews
November 28, 2021
And just like that this book has skyrocketed to my top 5 favorite books ever. I’ve always been drawn to the dark, mysterious, and fantastical, and each of these stories has at least one of those elements if not all three. I thought about mentioning each story I particularly loved until I realized every one had become a favorite. Each one either left me with chills, pondering over the hidden metaphors, or wishing I too could go on my own adventures in dark fantasy worlds. To say I love this book and all of its stories is an understatement
Profile Image for Emma Ann.
354 reviews736 followers
September 26, 2021
A collection of beautifully written, unashamedly weird sf/f short stories. I thoroughly enjoyed them and I don’t even usually like short stories.
7 reviews
April 29, 2018
I bought this book because I loved (loved loved) The Goblin Emperor, and I like short stories. I found it to be a very diverse, uneven but engaging collection, with some truly wonderful stories more than making up for the ones I didn't like. I also enjoyed the author's notes on each story in the back.


"A Light in Troy" - A brief story of hope and human communion after losing everything, beautifully written. I loved this.

"Katabasis: Seraphic Trains" - A story about poets, and beyond that, about going to your darkest places and coming back from them (or not). Very imaginative, fantastic, and poetically written.

"The Seance at Chisholm End" - Just fun and even a bit romantic!

"No Man's Land" - Powerful and cutting, without frills.

"Impostors" - An exploration of societal injustice, anger, and blame, dressed up as a paranormal investigation romp. Well done.

"The World Without Sleep" - As another reviewer mentioned, the protagonist's insistence on saying "Er" in the middle of EVERY FREAKING SENTENCE made me want to strangle him. Still, the creatures and the world she created here was memorable, as were her descriptions of insomnia. (Update: I have a greater appreciation for this story after reading "The Bone Key.")

"After the Dragon" - I loved everything about this, how it shifts between descriptions of the dragon's effects on the landscape and on Megan's body, the poetry, the faint social satire, the final strength.


"Queen of Swords" - Too short and needlessly disturbing for my taste.

"Letter from a Teddy Bear on Veteran's Day" - I just never got into it, and it didn't help that I kept expecting there to be a letter from the darn teddy bear and there never was!

"Darkness, as a Bride" - Meh.

"Fiddleback Ferns" - Too short, caricatured, and somehow everything about it felt unearned.

"Night Train: Heading West" - I confess to a prejudice against poems that lack any kind of meter, rhyme (internal or otherwise), or other formal elements. As is often the case, her straight-up prose is actually more poetic than this poem.

"A Night in Electric Squidland" - This was the one story that so disturbed me I wished I could un-read it. (Yes, I am squeamish.) I almost didn't read the next story, which features the same characters, because I was afraid it would be more of the same. Fortunately, the next one ("Impostors", see above) is completely different.

All the other stories, which I haven't mentioned by name, were good and I enjoyed them. Sarah Monette is a lyrical writer with a fecund imagination. 4.5 stars.
Profile Image for Francesca.
1,611 reviews120 followers
December 11, 2013

L’antologia Somewhere Beneath Those Waves raccoglie venticinque racconti, non inediti, di Sarah Monette.

Alcune storie sono brevissime, solo un paio di pagine, altre sono invece sviluppate più ampliamente, ma tutte sono accomunate da una buona qualità narrativa, una prosa poetica, onirica e vivida, tematiche che prediligono tinte fosche, a volte perché inquietanti altre in quanto quasi orrorifiche.
Questa sorta di “senso di orrore”, tuttavia, nasce da una rarefatta sensazione di timore per qualcosa che aleggia, si annida tra la realtà e altri mondi, e che può rimanere celato oppure rivelarsi apertamente.
È soprattutto l’atmosfera che l’autrice sa intessere, a far sognare o rabbrividire – o entrambe le cose contemporaneamente.

Nel suo complesso, questa è una collezione intensa, ben strutturata e assemblata in un insieme coerente, che comunque non trascura la varietà dei soggetti e dei toni delle singole storie.
Il lettore può così assaporare ogni racconto in sé, ma anche ricercare nell’insieme sottili collegamenti intertestuali, risonanze tematiche ed emotive.

Viene esplorata una vasta gamma di sentimenti, dai più desolati e cupi ad altri più aulici ed edificanti, tutti però riportati a protagonisti che sono per la maggior parte delle persone non comuni, diverse o estranee al contesto sociale in cui si ritrovano.

Temi quali l’amore, i rapporti familiari e interpersonali, la paura, l’infanzia, il trascorrere del tempo, il dolore, la perdita, si arricchiscono di sfumature fantastiche, talora più maestose e altre volte più lugubri, fondendo i piani della realtà, di universi altri, del sogno, delle angosce individuali e collettive.

Il primo racconto, Draco Campestris, è quello che prediligo, che mi ha colpito di più. È estremamente evocativo, nostalgico, ricco di immagini affascinanti.
Altri racconti che ho particolarmente apprezzato sono Queen of Swords, Letter from a Teddy Bear on Veterans’ Day, The Watcher in the Corners, Somewhere Beneath Those Waves Was Her Home, Darkness, as a Bride, Katabasis: Seraphic Trains.

Una raccolta che sa trasportare altrove, un altrove che può essere meraviglioso o terrorizzante, spesso malinconico, attraverso storie nelle quali, in fondo, si può ritrovare sempre un briciolo del proprio io interiore, del proprio sentire – tra gioie, sofferenze, sogni, timori.
February 4, 2018
I really enjoyed the vast majority of this collection. Having been introduced to short story collections back in college, I still find myself gravitating to these short adventures . They're perfect for someone like me who can sit down and read a 500 page novel in a night, but who also often finds her mind wandering amidst some words. All of that being said, some of these fell short for me particularly those opening the collection. I hung in there and am glad I did.
My favorite by far was "The World Without Sleep". Straight out of a dream world the story dances between dark and light and interestingly plays with good and evil-never truly defining what it means to be "good" or "evil". It plays with co-existence and tolerance. Even without trying to extrapolate meaning one can enjoy this story for its literary beauty and creative setting.
I also enjoyed: "After The Dragon"- as a female I felt connected to Megan's story.
"A Night In Electric Squidland"- imaginative and witty, I liked the characters a lot in this one.
"Somewhere Beneath Those Waves..." -Bittersweet and leaves you with a sense of yearning for understanding...Being from IL the backdrop was intriguing.

Overall, I'd recommend reading this. You're in for a twisted and sometimes dark ride, but it's certainly worth the adventure.
Profile Image for Julia.
2,034 reviews58 followers
December 22, 2012
I cried while reading “Letter from a Teddy Bear on Veteran’s Day” while answering phones during the public radio fund drive, with Alan Chartock less than 10 feet away, begging people to call and with phones ringing. There are twenty five short stories, novellas, some very short stories, prose poems and poems in this very, very good collection. One, “The World Without Sleep” has Kyle Murchison Boothe from the author’s The Bone Key: The Necromantic Mysteries of Kyle Murchison Booth. “A Night in Electric Squidland” and “Impostors” are about Jamie and Mick, who are two detectives who work for the Bureau of Paranormal Investigations in Memphis except it's where Chattanooga is, but called Babylon. In “Katabasis: Seraphic Trains” Bram goes to fairyland to rescue Sean, who has committed suicide. It’s a Tam Lin story without the even vaguely happy ending. In “Amanta Doree” Annabel is a courtesan, spy and more.

If you're thinking about reading this book, stop thinking and get it and read it already!
Profile Image for M—.
652 reviews112 followers
April 11, 2012
I've got to obtain a copy of this. Some of the stories I loved more than others, but there wasn't a bad one in the lot and that's damned rare for me with story collections.

Assume spoiler in my comments of the individual stories.

Draco campestris
Queen of Swords
Letter from a Teddy Bear on Veterans' Day
Under the Beansidhe's Pillow (click to read)
The Watcher in the Corners
The Half-Sister
Ashes, Ashes
Sidhe Tigers
A Light in Troy (selected for Best New Romantic Fantasy 2006)
Amante Dorée
Somewhere Beneath Those Waves Was Her Home
Darkness, as a Bride
Katabasis: Seraphic Trains
Fiddleback Ferns
Three Letters from the Queen of Elfland (Spectrum Award Winner)
Night Train: Heading West. (selected for The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror XIX)
The Séance at Chisholm End
No Man's Land
National Geographic On Assignment: Mermaids of the Old West
A Night in Electric Squidland.
Absent from Felicity
The World Without Sleep
After the Dragon
Profile Image for D.
479 reviews13 followers
October 11, 2020
Reread this and realised some of the stories aren't as strong as I thought. Stories are sometimes too plotty for a short story but there's no need to flesh them out into a novel. Tanith Lee writes novellas, but I guess they're not really in style anymore? Anyway what happens is sometimes things feel rushed.

"Impostors" had a woman screaming abuse at a male protag who is black. Yes, it was framed as a bad thing, but there's probably no need to spell the N word out. It's a word people who are not black are better off not writing or saying, even if the point is 'Don't be racist'.

The story with Kyle Murchison Booth had him refer to Native Americans as 'Red Indian'.

Hmmm. Like a lot of Murchison Booth's stories were inspired by Lovecraftian stories so this is not a good sign you know what I mean?

Anyway, I do like Sarah Monette's writing and some of the ghost stories here have A+ atmosphere. But I'm bringing my rating down from 5 to 3 stars.
Profile Image for Orrin Grey.
Author 87 books312 followers
March 22, 2012
I'm a big, big fan of Sarah Monette, especially her ghost stories. The Bone Key is one of my all-time favorite books. But Monette isn't principally a ghost story writer. She's done a number of fantasy novels, and a host of sci-fi and fantasy short stories. Of those, I've not yet read the novels, but the short stories are mostly collected here, including one rather unusual Kyle Murchison Booth story. I'd read probably a little over half of these before, but it's nice to have them all collected together in one spot.
Profile Image for Miss Susan.
2,521 reviews52 followers
November 27, 2012
Really enjoyed this one. I read it in bits and pieces at the bookstore so I haven't the memory or the book handy to give a detailed review but I liked it very much overall. The longer stories were much better than the short ones, there were a couple where I figured she must have had a word count limit because they would have been better expanded. I really liked the Jamie and Mick stories, I hope she writes a collection for them someday. 'Three Letters from the Queen of Elfland', 'Katabasis: Seraphic Trains', "Somewhere Beneath Those Waves', and 'Amante Doree' all ranked among my favourites as well. 4 stars
Profile Image for Marissa.
66 reviews9 followers
November 15, 2013
I was excited to find this book at the library because I really enjoyed her long fiction (such as The Mirador and Virtu), and fans of those books won't be disappointed. The stories in Somewhere Beneath those Waves have the same imaginative, alternative quality that made her novels so enjoyable, and the characters are absolutely fabulous. Where else are you going to find transgender courtesans, bisexual buddy cops, selkies, soldiers, and all of the other weird and wonderful individuals left out of traditional genre fiction? AND with lovely, unpretentious prose that sucks you in right from word one?

Definitely recommend to anyone who likes their fantasy with a bit of the unusual!
Profile Image for Katherine.
756 reviews31 followers
August 18, 2016
I went on a spree of requesting a bunch of this author's books from the library because I decided that The Goblin Emperor is my favorite book, but my overall conclusion is that the choice to write under a different name was a good one, because the work does feel different. Anyway, these short stories are fun to read because it's pushing past the usual heteronormative setups, so that's cool, but I still like the fantasy (and linear) ones better than the more experimental or horror-based stories.
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