Thursday, August 27, 2015

Creatures Of The Deep

Fall is just around the corner, I can feel the air starting to change YAY!  First, how about one last summer book ramble?  OK here we go.  Today we will go through the short story collection Mermaids and Other Mysteries of the Deep edited by Paula Guran.  I got it to read on the cruise, 'cause what better place to read about water creatures then in the middle of the ocean.  I did not get to finish it on the cruise, then it took forever 'cause I could only read it next to water.  But here we are and it is finished and here are my favorite stories.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
Miss Carstairs and the Merman by Delia Sherman - Miss Carstairs is an old maid scholar who is obsessed with learning about the natural world.  One day she get's a hold of what turns out to be a merman and the exchange of learning that happens between the two is pretty cool.  This is one of those stories that makes is both familiar and introduces some new ideas that make you go hmmmm in a good way.  I would read a whole book about this woman and her explorations.

Sea-Hearts by Margo Lanagan - An island where all the wives and mothers are captured Selkies is the setting for this story.  It is told from the prospective of a child and is in parts magical, disturbing and melancholy.  I always like tales set in isolated places, seems to add to the atmosphere of what is possible and the unusual perspective gives you time to figure things out for yourself.  The bond between husband and wife, mother and child and captor and captive is explored in a vary unique way.

Each to Each by Seanan McGuire - There are several stories about humans adapting to live beneath the waves in this book, but this one was probably my favorite.  I think what I liked best about this story was the fictional science behind it and the descriptions of the various types of sea creatures the girls used to turn themselves into the proverbial "mermaid"  The transformation from women to sea creatures in this tale is a pretty cool path to follow.

Salt Wine by Peter S. Beagle - A man saves a merrow (a male mermaid) and in return gets the recipe for Salt Wine, a wine that encapsulates the sea in a drink.   The man and his friend build an empire around it only to discover that on the rare occasion, the drinker of the Salt Wine turns into a mermaid/merrow.  In the end the man to his sorrow discovers that his beloved wife had fallen victim to the Salt Wine and turns into a mermaid herself.  A very interesting tale of the sea.

A Good Husband by Angela Slater - We leave the sea for a small lake in this tale and visit a water spirit that lives in the lake.  We watch her interact with the women and girls of the local village through out the years and finally see her help a girl with an abusive relationship.  I like the completely different take on a water creature that this story takes and enjoyed it thoroughly.
Overall I had mixed feelings about this collection.  I wanted a lot more variety.  Several of the stories felt extremely similar and had a "I'm trying to be cooler then I really am" vibe to them.  If you have no idea what that last phrase means, I don't blame you, let me try and explain.  A good chunk of the stories tried to be mysterious and allegoryish and esoteric and to me they just came across as a story that didn't go anywhere with lots of big words.  Sometimes it's ok to have a story or two in a collection like this, but this book felt like at least half of them had the same vibe.  I just feel that the subject matter had so many zillions of ways that an author could go with and that they all felt similar was disappointing.   That being said, the stories I did like, I really really liked so there was that. Also the cover is pretty awesome.  I give the collection as a whole a 6 out of 10 fish tales and recommend it to anybody who likes mermaids, the ocean or fish.  Happy Reading Everybody!

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