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The Underwater Ballroom Society

(The Casebook of Harriet George #2 - A Spy in the Deep)

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  175 ratings  ·  72 reviews
Would you rather dance beneath the waves or hide your smuggled magic there? Welcome to a world of sparkling adult fantasy and science fiction stories edited by Stephanie Burgis and Tiffany Trent and featuring underwater ballrooms of one sort or another, from a 1920s ballroom to a Martian hotel to a grand rock 'n roll ball held in the heart of Faery itself.

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ebook, 330 pages
Published April 30th 2018 by Five Fathoms Press
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Jan 25, 2018 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
*ETA: And hooray! There's now a gorgeous paperback edition available as well!

This is the secret project that Tiffany Trent and I have spent the last few months organizing! I loooooove the stories in this anthology, and I am so happy to finally be able to share them all with you.

They're out now! And you can buy your own copy of The Underwater Ballroom Society at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, or Smashwords.

**Note: the price for this one has now gone down to $3.99 US/ £2.99
K.J. Charles
A varied anthology brought together by the underwater ballroom setting. I mostly bought this because Cassandra Khaw is in it (her story is short, strange and lyrically nasty, as one might imagine). I very much liked the savage feminist Twelve Sisters by YS Lee, doing a what-happened-next on the ever-creepy Twelve Dancing Princesses fairytale; the Stephanie Burgis story Spellswept is a niftily done short romance in a satisfyingly gender-role-reversed world. And an author to watch: Iona Datt Sharm ...more
Sherwood Smith
Last summer I was taking a sanity break from the unrelentingly horrible news, and in doing some research, came across a mention of an anthology published around WW II, called Famous Balls. (Copies are rare and go for zillions, so I haven’t read it.)

I thought, what a great idea for sheer wish-fulfillment and escapism! And I put the word out for a potential anthology.

At pretty much the same time, the editors here got a similar idea while chatting on Twitter, and as often happens with writers, the
Feb 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
2020-02-29: Spellswept 4 starsAmy is wonderful, being bright, super organized, adept at reading people and dealing with different personalities. I loved the romance between her and Jonathan -- it was kind of adorable. It was also interesting to see how powerful Cassandra is with no formal training. I also liked the background on this alternate England, with its division between who studies and uses magic, and who manages the politics and business--a nice role reversal here from the traditional.
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, earc
I received the ARC of this collection from one of the editors, Stephanie Burgis, for review purposes. My opinion is entirely my own.

TL;DR version: I loved two of these stories, enjoyed most; the collection was centred around an idea that resulted in varied interpretations that were a pleasure to read. Some stories were less successful, but didn't ruin the overall positive impression. Recommended (with slight reservations).

When reading any collection of short stories, and particularly an edited a
katayoun Masoodi
May 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, ebook
very enjoyable and fun, liked all the stories, all interesting and fun though maybe had a soft spot for stephanie burgis and patrick samphire's stories, as they were maybe a bit longer and also was looking forward to reading them ...more
Mar 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was lucky enough to win an ARC of this anthology and thoroughly enjoyed it. The standout story for me was definitely Iona Datt Sharma's "Penhallow Amid Passing Things", a beautifully atmospheric story with magic, smugglers and an f/f romance that I was approximately 1000% here for, which also managed the feat of feeling like it was just the right length whilst also making me want 900 more stories about the characters and the world. I also enjoyed revisiting the world of Snowspelled in Stephani ...more
Mar 29, 2019 rated it liked it
The Underwater Ballroom Society is a speculative fiction anthology containing stories with a variety of genres, prose styles, and themes but one shared element: each of them includes some sort of underwater ballroom.

My favorite story is "Spellswept" by Stephanie Burgis, a prequel to her Harwood Spellbook novellas with Amy as the main protagonist. Two stories unfold during a party in the Harwood's underwater ballroom: that of Amy and Jonathan's engagement and that of Cassandra's first public spel
The Queen of Life — Ysabeau S. Wilce
Twelve Sisters — Y.S. Lee
Penhallow Amid Passing Things — Iona Datt Sharma
Mermaids, Singing — Tiffany Trent
A Brand New Thing — Jenny Moss
Four Revelations from the Rusalka Ball — Cassandra Khaw
Spellswept — Stephanie Burgis
The River Always Wins — Laura Anne Gilman
The Amethyst Deceiver — Shveta Thakrar
A Spy in the Deep — Patrick Samphire
Apr 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
I received this book for free from the Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The nitty-gritty: An unexpectedly delightful and varied collection of stories about a most magical place, the underwater ballroom.

Having enjoyed Stephanie Burgis' adult fantasy novels, I was thrilled to receive a review copy of her new anthology. I had never heard of underwater ballrooms—I mean, really, is that a thing?—but Burgis has based her i
Morgan Al-Moor
Apr 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
*Disclaimer: I’d like to to thank Ms. Burgis, one of the editors, for kindly providing this book in exchange for an honest review.*

This was a lovely anthology featuring some of my favorite voices, with all of the stories sharing a common theme--an underwater ballroom! Pretty cool, right?
Here are my thoughts on each story:

The Queen of Life - Ysabeau S. Wilce: A story that mixes fairy tales and rock' n' roll. Beneath this fresh premise is a deeper story about how one sees their life and its mea
** I received an ARC of this anthology in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. The main one being: you should definitely buy this anthology.**

I really enjoyed The Underwater Ballroom Society. Inspired by the same haunting, beautiful setting of an underwater ballroom, it's an interesting premise for an anthology and makes for a sameness to the stories' aesthetics, despite their being wildly disparate in tone and and subject and theme and really, even setting. I especially loved
Sara Harvey
Jun 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
DISCLOSURE: I was given a ebook to read in order to review.

This was a REALLY COOL anthology and I highly recommend it.
The writing was engaging and exciting throughout and it was a real delight, even the stories that I didn't love I still read because they were well-written.


My favorite story of the collection was "The Queen of Life," by Ysabeau S. Wilce, it reminded me of one of my favorite books, ECSTASIA by Francesca Lia Block (so if you loved that story and want a
May 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I received a copy of the book for an honest review. My review (albeit late) is below. You can also read it on my blog Once Upon A Book Blog(ger).

A collection of stories by many fabulous and talented authors, The Underwater Ballroom Society focuses on one unifying theme: an underwater ballroom. From the dancing princesses, a martian female detective/spy, the fairy realm (in combination with some rock and roll, of course), to a creepy circus, you will
Mar 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This anthology is a collection of wonderful stories – all with a nod to an underwater ballroom. I was lucky enough to be given an ARC in exchange for an honest review, and I can truthfully say that I absolutely adore this collection!

The first story, Ysabeau S. Wilce’s “The Queen of Life” is great fun; a mix of fairy tales and myths, and rock’n’roll! loved the twists and turns of this, and it’s got a really upbeat vibe. Y.S. Lee’s “Twelve Sisters” is a wonderful take on what happens next after th
A strong collection of short stories, all of which include an underwater ballroom. Other than that connection, each is pretty unique and they all feel different too. Some are obviously weaker than others, but I finished them all and never felt like that I was rushing through one just to get it done with.

My favorites of the lot were:
- "Twelve Sisters" by Y.S. Lee - a story based on the Twelve Dancing Princesses, only what happens after the story ends.
- "Spellswept" by Stephanie Burgis - it helped
May 09, 2018 added it
I was delighted to receive an ARC of The Underwater Ballroom Society. I enjoyed this unique collection of short stories around the underwater theme very much. The stories are fun and imaginative and I enjoyed reading each one, which is rare for a collection of short stories. If I absolutely had to choose favorites, I would choose:

Y.S. Lee's "Twelve Sisters"--what happens after the end of The Twelve Dancing Princesses fairy tale
Shveta Thakrar's "The Amethyst Deceiver"--a delightful heist story in
Aug 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Like all collections of short stories, there were some I loved and some I didn’t think worked. With fantasy, the short story is an especially difficult structure to work within due to the necessary world building. I did enjoy the variety of stories that arose from the titular inspiration... lots of fae and fairytale aspects, with a dash of steampunk and some magic gone awry. All in all a good time.
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
An absolutely excellent collection of short stories, all featuring an underwater ballroom. I particularly loved Stephanie Burgis' prequel to her novel 'Snowspelled': 'Spellswept' features Amy and Jonathan getting together, and sees Cassandra Harwood's (the protagonist of 'Snowspelled') first public demonstration of her magical powers; Y S Lee's 'Twelve Sisters', a sequel to the Grimms' fairytale 'Twelve Dancing Princesses'; Tiffany Trent's 'Mermaids, Singing'; Shveta Thakrar's 'The Amethyst Dece ...more
I loved the concept of this anthology as soon as I heard it - fantasy and science fiction stories that feature an underwater ballroom - and the final product was if anything even more satisfying and entertaining than I had expected. The variety of subgenres, styles and moods was impressive - I got so absorbed in the world of each story that often I was even surprised when the underwater ballroom showed up, but its inclusion always ended up feeling essential. Particular favourites include Iona Da ...more
Ceillie Simkiss
Read my full review here! ...more
Tsana Dolichva
May 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Underwater Ballroom Society edited by Stephanie Burgis and Tiffany Trent is a themed novella anthology in which every story features some sort of underwater ballroom. It might sound like an oddly specific idea to pin an anthology on, but it works well, with the wide variety of underwater ballrooms dreamt up by the authors.

This is a long book and it took me a while to get through it (with a few minor breaks). For all that it contains only ten stories, most of them are quite long (hence novell
Apr 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2018
When Stephanie Burgis contacted me to propose I read and review this collection of short stories from various authors, I was quite intrigued: I had enjoyed both her two historical fantasy novels (Masks and Shadows and Congress of Secrets) and her novella Snowspelled, with its alternate version of Regency England where magic is as common as teapots, so that I was fairly certain I would appreciate these short works centered on the shared theme of an underwater ballroom.

The location itself would ha
Apr 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review appeared first on

The stories in The Underwater Ballroom Society have one thing in common: underwater ballrooms. Writers Tiffany Trent and Stephanie Burgis thought the concept of an underwater ballroom was a great idea for an anthology. Soon enough they found other writers who joined in.

I laughed, I cried, I loved and was terrified. This anthology plays with your emotions like a faerie plays with a fair maiden's heart. Each ballroom has its own story, own origin, and use
Jul 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: sff, slash-interest
There are a surprising number of different ways to write a story about an underwater ballroom.

I really enjoyed Iona Datt Sharma's "Penhallow Amid Shining Things," a lovely and emotionally complex story that puts a smuggler and a revenue officer in a tentative temporary alliance.

Also worth reading: Y.S. Lee's "Twelve Sisters" (a follow-up to the Twelve Dancing Princesses tale) and Isabeau Wilce's "The Queen of Life" and Laura Ann Gilman's "The River Always Wins," two different kinds of rock 'n'
Apr 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was given a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

I have been so excited about this anthology ever since I first heard about it, and it doesn’t fail to meet my expectations. Whilst I didn’t love absolutely every story included - “The Queen of Life” by Ysabeau S. Wilce left me feeling rather disturbed, though I can’t put my finger on why - the collection as a whole is a multitude of marvellous worlds, all containing an underwater ballroom (or other room used for dancing). I will now give a
Rene Sears
Mar 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2018
This anthology is packed full of stories that share one conceit: that they involve an underwater ballroom. The approaches are wildly different, and all enjoyable. I started to list standouts, but really, all of them are well worth reading.

"The Queen of Life" by Ysabeau S Wilce is a wild ride, about a guitarist in a rock band who was taken to Faery, and what happens to his bandmates over time. Bonus points for corgi guides to Faery.

"Twelve Sisters" by Y. S. Lee is a take on the Twelve Dancing P
Jan 23, 2019 marked it as finished-selected-story-s-in-set  ·  review of another edition
Anthology in progress — I haven't decided which/ how many of the stories I'm going to read right now. So far, the editing / proofreading is excellent, but the tone quite varied.

1) The Queen of Life,
by Ysabeau S. Wilce —
2.9 stars or so: 4 for the writing, but 2.25 for my taste in characters/ mood/ plot.

A wildly imaginative, well-written world (containing a couple words I'm not sure whether they're merely too obscure for my own large vocabulary and the built-in dictionary, or made up by the auth
Apr 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was lucky enough to get an advanced reader copy of this book and while I knew the works of Stephanie Burgis, which was how I heard about it, I went into the book largely blind about what to expect except that there would be ballrooms underwater involved. It sounded like an intriguing concept but one that could potentially limit the kinds of stories told. As with just about every short story collection my level of engagement with the stories was varied but on the whole I was pleasantly surprise ...more
I was delighted to receive an advance review copy of The Underwater Ballroom Society edited by an author whose work I’ve plowed through in the past year, Stephanie Burgis, and including short stories on the theme by a few favorite authors a few I’ve been looking forward to reading. I have to confess up front that I really struggle with short story collections; I read one story, and then I have to put the whole collection down to let that one story sort of swim around in my head for a little whil ...more
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Tiffany Trent is the award-winning creator and author of the young adult dark fantasy series, HALLOWMERE, and THE UNNATURALISTS and THE TINKER KING. With Stephanie Burgis, she co-edited the Locus Finalist for Best Anthology, THE UNDERWATER BALLROOM SOCIETY. Her short stories have been published in MAGIC AND THE MIRRORSTONE, CORSETS AND CLOCKWORK, SUBTERRANEAN, and WILFUL IMPROPRIETY. When not writ ...more

Other books in the series

The Casebook of Harriet George (2 books)
  • The Dinosaur Hunters (The Casebook of Harriet George #1)
  • A Spy in the Deep (The Casebook of Harriet George #2)

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