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Beneath the World, a Sea

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  378 ratings  ·  75 reviews
South America, 1990. Ben Ronson, a British police officer, arrives in a mysterious forest to investigate a spate of killings of a local species called the Duendes. They are silent, vaguely humanoid creatures - with long limbs and black button eyes - that have a strange psychic effect on people, exposing them to their suppressed thoughts and fears.

The crimes have taken plac
Hardcover, 279 pages
Published April 4th 2019 by Corvus
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Average rating 3.70  · 
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Beneath The World, A Sea by Chris Beckett is a book I won through ReadersFirst, published by Corvus. And to be honest, Beneath the World, A Sea wouldn’t have been my first choice, because I don’t often go outside my comfort zone. I am so glad I did though, because I really enjoyed this book a lot!


Beneath The World, A Sea by Chris Beckett is a story told mainly by Ben, the policeman. The story is also told from other people’s po
Connor Franks
Mar 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
This book wasn't necessarily bad but not exceptional either. It was just generally weird, it's hard to explain the concept of this book but a policeman goes to the Submundo Delta, which is inhabited by people, who were dumped there 150 years ago as well as the strange, original inhabitants the Duendes, which make people go crazy when you're near them. The people keep killing the Duendes and the policeman is sent there to try and stop it, but he then realises how hard that will actually be.
The wr
Blodeuedd Finland
I will say it, Chris Beckett writes such weird books! But good! But seriously weird. They are so hard to explain.

Right...ok so this cop goes to a strange place in South America. People were dumped there 150 years ago. There are also some strange creatures and the UN wants to protect them. Also if you go there you lose your memory for awhile. And you have no idea what you did then...

This place is so weird. The strange Duende brings our the worst in humans. Near them every thought in your head scr
this book was very surreal but felt something was missing but did make you think though but also felt that the novel was a slow mover too
Becca (Horners_book_corner)
I was absolutely drawn in by the cover of this book as it is so unusual, as it turns out the story itself is equally unique. The journey I went on as a reader was incredible and unbelievable and had me questioning the dark thoughts people can have. I found the description of the world really helpful, but repetitive in parts and felt that the multiple viewpoints were a little confusing at times. However, the characters developed well in my opinion and I particularly liked how we learnt more about ...more
Nov 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Just as I feel I must buy a grocery item if I've touched it these days, I am also obligated to borrow any library book I touch. Given that library browsing slots give me 15 minutes to choose a stack of books, my novel-choosing heuristics are: semi-familiar author, appealing cover, and/or on the new acquisition shelf. 'Beneath the World, a Sea' met all three criteria. It was on the new book shelf, looked attractive, and I recognised Chris Beckett's name as I've read America City, (which had inter ...more
Nov 03, 2019 rated it liked it
I'm not entirely sure what I read. I can't remember why it's set in 1990.

Basically, it's about a place in South America only accessible by boat. What happens in the Zona stays in the Zona, because once people leave it they are unable to remember what happened while they were there.

Duendes are humanoid creatures that do something telepathically to make people feel all their worst insecurities. Yet some people seem more at home among duendes than they do among their fellow humans.

It's a vibrant, c
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Something truly unexpected here, both philosophical and deeply weird. Beckett has a pleasing ability to allow the reader to make their own conclusions, as we learn few FACTS in this books, but the journey is glorious all the same. The characters and their journeys I found captivating and how they interacted with their extraordinary surroundings. A very interesting read indeed.
Emer (A Little Haze)
Every time I walked into Easons last year I kept seeing the beautiful hardback of this book but it was super expensive and I couldn’t justify buying it. But I always found myself flicking through it. As I was scrolling through the kindle daily deals for today (20th/21st July 2020) I saw it was on offer. I almost immediately hit buy with one click... but then saw the look inside feature and began to read the sampler. And the book is certainly fascinating. But also weird. So weird that by the end ...more
May 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
I can’t tell you how excited I was to discover this book. Like many other reviewers, I was initially pulled in by the magnificent cover but stayed for the promise of unconscious mind exploration: exactly what I love to read.

A policeman is called to investigate a number of killings in the Submundo Delta: a highly unusual but naturally occurring basin in South America. To reach it he must travel by boat through the Zona del Olvido: a region people forget the instant they leave it, including everyt
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was ok
2.5 Stars

This is a very peculiar book, and not necessarily in a good way. Rather than tell a straight forward story of the Submundo Delta and the surrounding Zona it very rapidly becomes an overly self-conscious examination of the human power to lie to itself. The allegory isn't at all subtle and leaps of the page to slap you around the face whilst joyously shouting "look at me, see what I did here". This did mean that some parts rapidly become turgid and I found myself skim reading to get to t
Adrian Coombe
Jun 16, 2019 rated it really liked it

Very easy reading and some chapters designed, it seems, purely for self reflection of the world as general. But very decent.

The zona has similarities to Roadside Picnic and Southern Reach but the intrigue to me didn't last so long. Whereas those kept me hooked throughout, I thought this petered out a little towards the ending, which in itself was open ended and decent just without a hook to elevate it higher than my rating.

Well worth a read.
Tony DeHaan
Apr 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
A rather disturbing novel I think, and hard to describe. It's earth, and there is a region where the Duendes live, a humanoid species. They have the ability to unlock all your hidden thoughts, fears, and desires. They are also being hunted down and killed by the Mundinos, humans emigrated from South America. Ben Ronson is sent to investigate, but will he be able to do so? ...more
Jun 25, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Bizarre and Unprecedented

The Submundo Delta is unlike anywhere else on Earth. The forest floor is made up of tree roots, tangled together over the sea to make up a landmass, the foliage is magenta and the creatures are unrecognisable. When English police-officer, Ben, arrives at the Delta to investigate the deaths of a group of local creatures only recently deemed persons, he discovers that the forest has strange and enticing power.

This book is written in a very interesting and unprecedented
Caroline Deacon
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Chris Beckett has an amazing talent for creating natural, weird, alien worlds which are utterly immersive and believable. No technology, no ‘science’ just strange ecosystems. And then he puts us humans in these places and carefully documents how we get on. There are no rip roaring plots, no ticking clocks, things move calmly, slowly, like his slow rivers, and yet I’m always gripped.
Dec 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
An utterly fascinating piece of science fiction, utterly contemporary, in the vein of Ballard.
Francesca Lucy
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Poetic and Incredibly Captivating.

I've seen a few mixed and negative reviews of this book and I can understand why those reviews exist, despite wholeheartedly disagreeing with them. The book is certainly an acquired taste and I definitely don't consider it to be a quick and easy-to-read novel. When I began it and realised how post-modern and psychological the concept was, I even had doubts myself; however, the book was so incredible that, by halfway through, all of those doubts were gone. Despit
Clive Seale
May 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book imagines a region -called the Submundo Delta - where the subconscious desires and conflicts that Freud taught us were beneath the surface of all our psyches, emerge to trouble its visitors. The chief character is Ben Ronson who, since he is a policeman whose job is to suppress criminal behaviour, is ideal material to represent psychological repression. Other characters include Judith, whose bourgeois boringness becomes horribly exposed, Hyacinth, a knowing anthropologist who is a usefu ...more
Jul 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beneath the World, a Sea has mixed reviews, but I really loved this book. It was dark, philosophical, and set in a rich and unusual world so close and yet so disconnected from the one we (and most of the characters) know.

The book is set in the Submundo Delta, a recently discovered and mysterious place near South America which can only be accessed by river boat. The Delta is surrounded by the Zona de Olvido, or the Zone of Forgetfulness, an area where no one can remember anything that has happene
Maura Heaphy Dutton
Oct 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
I warmed to this, and felt that it all came together in a satisfying conclusion, in the final pages ... even the final paragraph.

Up until that point, it wasn't exactly a penance to read, but felt like a bit of a challenge. I read on, wondering whether anything was going to actually happen, and whether wanderings of the odd, unmoored characters were actually going to go anywhere. Mild Spoiler Alert: it's all very low key and subtle, but it does.

It's very talky, and Beckett has clearly decided on
Apr 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beckett is one of my favourite authors of recent years and this is another enjoyable, thoughtful and rather bizarre novel. It concerns the Delta Submondo, an area of the planet that's cut off from the world, inhabited by Mundinos, humans living in backward villages, a smallish group of people from the outside world and strange creatures, the duende, who everyone seems horrified by. The duende seem to have some odd mental power, which affects anyone who comes near them, and as such they are const ...more
Kate ( Earth Heart's Pages )
2.75/5 well I am confused and dissatisfied with this book, while understanding the idea behind it?

I would sum up this book with: weird deconstruction of characters in an alien-jungle isolated civilization. Yes it is very atmospheric and I appreciate the in-depth dive into Ben's character. It is suppose to be confusing because nobody understands the situation for real. The duendes are extremely interesting and I love the mixed culture in the Delta.

The thing is this book is extremely egocentric.
Kristian Lindqvist
I grabbed a copy of this from the bookstore when starting my summer holidays because I craved something with a thick atmosphere of mystery and a general sense of weirdness. Also, the cover was really stylishly beautiful.

Beckett certainly delivered on the atmosphere - this is definitely a book that you should enjoy more as a trip into its surreal world than juicy characters or an astounding plot. But the characters were also interesting (like a BBC TV-drama cast) and the plot is there too.

Set in
Aug 20, 2020 rated it liked it
Haven't previously read anything by this author and I don't read much science fiction normally but I love Heart of Darkness and there were some hints that this might be a bit like that. It's a strange story of a place in South America where you can only get to by boat, you forget what you did on the way there and weird creatures and wildlife exist in it. A policeman is sent in to stop the local population killing these duerte creatures who reflect back your own deep thoughts back at you when you ...more
Jul 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this strange, singular work of science fiction. Inspector Ben Ronson arrives in a mysterious forest in South America: the Submundo Delta. It’s a place unlike any other: purple flora and unrecognisable fauna, and a humanoid race called Duendes. They can’t hear or speak, live in the waters of the Delta, and their mere presence causes people to expose their innermost thoughts and fears. Which is why the people who live there, the Mundinos, Kill any that they come don’t see them as ...more
Harriet Furze
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When Ben Robson, a British police officer, travels to South America to investigate a series of killings of the local indigenous people (called Duendes), he is thrown into a world unlike what he has known before.

The longer he’s there, the more he begins to lose himself as the strange psychic effect the Duendes have on people means his subconscious is unleashed and his inner most fears come to life.

Beckett’s novel is a wonderful and intriguing, yet somewhat terrifying, insight into the human consc
Apr 01, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: readers-first
Ben Ronson is a police officer who has been sent to the Submundo Delta to investigate the killing of Duendes - strange, humanoid creatures with long limbs and a strange psychic effect on the mind. But to get there, you have to pass through the Zona - a journey of a couple of days that you will have no memory of whatsoever when you come out the other side. Locals say that your deepest, most repressed thoughts and desires come to pass here, and Ben is concerned about what he will do while he is in ...more
Whilst this not my usual type of read I was initially drawn in by the beautiful cover and alluring title and hooked by the authors incredible writing style. The concept for this story is fantastic; an unusual location that you forget and are unable to remember- it had bags of potential.

Initially I was wowed by the authors powerful style of writing that creates beautiful and immersive imagery. This alone was what kept me going and pulled me into wanting to read more of this unique and unusual st
Jun 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, 3-5
Beneath the World, A Sea is the latest novel from Chris Beckett (writer of the Dark Eden series). Ben Ronson is a police officer sent to the Delta to investigate the killing of the Duendes, a local humanoid species. The Delta itself is a strange place where the flora and fauna is all unique to the location, and to get to the Delta one must pass through the Zone, an region where memories are lost.

The story is told at an unhurried pace, introducing the various characters on the boat used to access
John Rennie
You'll see lots of reviews saying how weird this book is, but really it isn't. It's very much in the spirit of the sort of books written by J. G. Ballard and Ian Watson in the 1960s and 70s. You have an unexplained phenomenon, in this case the Submundo Delta but c/cf Ballard's Crystal World, and the book examines the effect this has on the characters as they progress through it. As with Ballard and Watson's books the book isn't really interested in the world but rather in the effects on the char ...more
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Chris Beckett is a British social worker, university lecturer, and science fiction author.

Beckett was educated at the Dragon School in Oxford and Bryanston School in Dorset, England. He holds a BSc (Honours) in Psychology from the University of Bristol (1977), a CQSW from the University of Wales (1981), a Diploma in Advanced Social Work from Goldsmiths College, University of London (1977), and an

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