The Overneath

Peter S. Beagle

2018 Locus Award finalist – Best Short Story Collection

“Peter Beagle deserves a seat at the table with the great masters of fantasy. If you had any doubts, The Overneath will dispel them.”
—Christopher Moore, author of Lamb and The Serpent of Venice


Lyrical, witty, and heartbreaking, here is Peter S. Beagle (The Last Unicorn)’s much-anticipated return to the short form. In these uniquely beautiful tales, Beagle once again proves himself a master of the imagination.


The Overneath

by Peter S. Beagle

ISBN: Print: 978-1-61696-269-2

Published: November 2017

Available Format(s): Trade Paperback


An unusual duo 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 Beagle once again proves himself a master of the imagination.

Praise for The Overneath

Io9’s All the Science Fiction and Fantasy Books to Keep on Your Radar This Fall
Barnes & Noble Best Sci Fi & Fantasy Book (November 2017)

Locus 2017 Recommended Reading List

[STARRED REVIEW] “Beagle’s latest collection of short stories includes 13 fantasy gems and features many previously uncollected and never-before-published works. Highlights include a couple of stories about one of Beagles’ most beloved characters, Schmendrick the Magician from his iconic novel The Last Unicorn (1968). A coming-of-age tale of sorts, ‘The Green-Eyed Boy’ offers a glimpse into the bumbling magician’s inauspicious beginnings, when the wizard Nikos took him in as an apprentice. Nikos sees potential in the shy boy but soon realizes his student’s unparalleled ineptitude could have deadly consequences. In the never-before-published ‘Schmendrick Alone,’ the magician, newly released from his service to Nikos, attempts to heroically defend a young woman from an unwanted suitor—with disastrous results. ‘My Son Heydari and the Karkadann’ is another remarkable story, chronicling a young Persian man’s attempt to nurse a dangerous mythological beast back to health; as is ‘Kaskia,’ a poignant love story about a lonely man who buys a strange laptop that allows him to video chat with a beautiful alien. ‘The Queen Who Could Not Walk’ is set in a world where the rulers must, at some point in their reign, exchange their bejeweled crowns for a beggar’s bowl and live out their lives in poverty. The story follows a crippled queen-turned-beggar who has her life saved by the unlikeliest of people. Two aspects of this collection stand out: the impressive diversity of stories (from interdimensional trips with novelist Avram Davidson in ‘The Way It Works Out and All’ to the supernatural horrors in a fish tank in ‘The Very Nasty Aquarium’) and the philosophical and thematic profundity of each story. Even in the most whimsical of tales, there are kernels of wisdom to be found. A masterful collection from a short story master—a must-read for Beagle fans.”
Kirkus, starred review

[STARRED REVIEW] “With sharp, lean elegance, Beagle (In Calabria) effortlessly chronicles the lives of unicorns, trolls, magicians, and adventurers in 13 poignant stories, many of which caution readers about magic gone awry and temperamental creatures. Cultivating his extensive knowledge of mythical beasts, Beagle travels the world in ‘The Story of Kao Yu,’ in which a chi-lin (Chinese unicorn) passes the final judgment, and in ‘My Son Heydari and the Karkadann,’ in which a Persian teenager nurses a dangerous karkadann. Beagle also recalls the themes of his classic novel The Last Unicorn with stories about misplaced love and misfortune around summoning a demon. In ‘The Way It Works Out and All,’ a traveler discovers portals to the shadow world of Overneath. In ‘Olfert Dapper’s Day,’ a Dutch swindler escapes to colonial Maine, where he is privy to a remarkable sight. Urban fantasy stories delight: in ‘Underbridge,’ a lonely adjunct professor offers distraction to the Freemont Bridge Troll, and in ‘Trinity County, CA,’ government agents search the California woods for drug dealers who guard their camps with dragons. The steampunk ‘Music, When Soft Voices Die’ follows an inventor who hears unexpected voices coming from his new wireless transmitter. This enchanting collection employs simple humor and affectionate sarcasm and will enchant any reader who still believes in magic.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

[STARRED REVIEW] “Beagle’s strong and versatile talent is well on display here, and fantasy readers will be missing out if they don’t give it a look.”
Booklist, starred review

Verdict: For fantasy fans, Beagle should be a staple.”
Library Journal

“I was lucky enough to get an advance reading copy of this book a month ago, and reading it reminded me why Peter S. Beagle is one of my favorite authors.”
—Patrick Rothfuss

“I loved these stories because they are, above all else, human. Their magic does not lie in the fantastical settings and situations, but in the essential human truths they reveal.”
Washington Independent Review of Books

“[Beagle] continues to produce exceptional work and The Overneath, an enchanting collection of short stories which—fans won’t be surprised to hear—also includes one or two new tales about unicorns, will only consolidate his legend even further. This anthology is a triumph. 10/10 stars.”

“Peter Beagle deserves a seat at the table with the great masters of fantasy. If you had any doubts, The Overneath will dispel them.”
—Christopher Moore, author of Lamb and The Serpent of Venice

“These stories open a wider window on the work of a master storyteller. We all have something to learn—about writing, about humanity, about hope—from Peter Beagle.”
—Seanan McGuire author of Rosemary and Rue

“Peter S. Beagle is writing some of the most exciting short form fantasy today.”
—Jo Walton, author of Among Others and the Thessaly series

“Lovely, strange, and an utter, heartwrenching joy.”
The Seattle Review of Books

The Overneath is a lovely collection that, like its namesake, manages to be everywhere at once. Aliens, dragons, unicorns, supernatural fish tanks, cursed queens, and matriculating magicians: all find their place in Beagle’s sweet grimoire.”
—Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog

“With a well-known wizard, three flavors of unicorns, fire-breathing cannibal dragons, a troll, and judges and scholars and queens and beggars, these tales are diverse in tone and subject matter, but all are pure enchantment! 5/5 stars.”
Read Well

“[Beagle] creates fantastic stories where you least expect it, and at the end they stay in our minds for a long time. 5/5 stars.”
Open Book Society

“I loved this collection of stories. Every story was well-written, compelling and just fantastic. 5/5 stars.”
The Book Lover’s Boudoir

“In his 34th book, The Overneath, Beagle shows that he hasn’t lost the playful and imaginative touch that made The Last Unicorn an international bestseller and delighted readers for more than half a century.”
Pop Mythology

“Peter S Beagle just has an incredible skill for putting together both short and full length stories. I have been in love with The Last Unicorn my whole life and I continue to adore every single thing Peter writes. The Overneath is no different. A fantasy lover’s heaven from start to finish.”
Life Has a Funny Way of Sneaking Up on You

“What is truly beautiful about this book is that Beagle’s writing lets you believe, if only for a little while, that magic, mythos and wonder are real. As you enter his world you become part of it and for that time the impossible is achievable.”
Artistic Bent

“This many faceted-collection sparkles with gems old and new, all unique in their telling. I highly recommend this collection to fans of fantastical tales. If you’d like to read more by Beagle, check out his catalogue at Tachyon.”
Sabrina’s Library

“Every story was well-written, compelling and just fantastic . . . The Overneath remind[s] me of the short fiction of George R. R. Martin. This is a compliment, believe me. 5/5 stars.
Paper Blog

“Altogether an exceptional collection, a beautiful introduction, as I’ve said, to Beagle’s writing.”
Blue Book Balloon

“5/5 stars. Peter S. Beagle is an amazingly generous gifted storyteller and we’re lucky that he has shared his stories with us.”
Nonstop Reader

The Overneath is a highly inspired collection of short stories . . . the attention to detail is amazing. The writing is immersive, and the stories are imaginative.”

“Beagle shows his mastery of depicting characters who are rounded, believable, and likable coming into contact with the otherworldly. He slips into their worlds without effort . . .”
Black Gate

“Beagle is a master of prose and his every sentence delights . . . this is an excellent collection from an accomplished fantasist operating at the height of his powers.”
SF Revu

“Beagle is also proof that you don’t have to write 20 volume epics to do fantasy. Small is beautiful.”



Peter Soyer Beagle is the internationally bestselling and much-beloved author of numerous classic fantasy novels and collections, including The Last Unicorn, Tamsin, The Line Between, Sleight of Hand, Summerlong, In Calabria, and most recently, The Overneath. He is the editor of The Secret History of Fantasy and the co-editor of The Urban Fantasy Anthology.

As one of the fantasy genre’s most-lauded authors, Beagle is the recipient of the Hugo, Nebula, Mythopoeic, and Locus awards as well as the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire. He has also been honored with the World Fantasy Life Achievement Award and the Inkpot Award from the Comic-Con convention, given for major contributions to fantasy and science fiction. In 2018, he was named a Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

Beagle lives in Richmond, California.

Praise for Peter S. Beagle

“One of my favorite writers.”
—Madeleine L’Engle, author of A Wrinkle in Time and A Swiftly Tilting Planet

“Peter S. Beagle illuminates with his own particular magic such commonplace matters as ghosts, unicorns, and werewolves. For years a loving readership has consulted him as an expert on those hearts’ reasons that reason does not know.”
—Ursula K. Le Guin, author of A Wizard of Earthsea and The Left Hand of Darkness

“Peter S. Beagle has both opulence of imagination and mastery of style.”
New York Times Book Review

“[Beagle] has been compared, not unreasonably, with Lewis Carroll and J. R. R. Tolkien, but he stands squarely—and triumphantly—on his own feet.”
The Saturday Review

“Peter S. Beagle is (in no particular order) a wonderful writer, a fine human being, and a bandit prince out to steal readers’ hearts.”
—Tad Williams, author of The Dragonbone Chair and The Very Best of Tad Williams

“At his best, Peter S. Beagle outshines the moon, the sun, the stars, the entire galaxy.”
Seattle Times

“Peter Beagle deserves a seat at the table with the great masters of fantasy.“
—Christopher Moore, author of Lamb and The Serpent of Venice

“We all have something to learn—about writing, about humanity, about hope—from Peter Beagle.”
—Seanan McGuire author of Rosemary and Rue

“Not only one of our greatest fantasists, but one of our greatest writers, a magic realist worthy of consideration with such writers as Marquez, Allende, and even Borges.”
The American Culture

“Not only does Peter Beagle make his fantasy worlds come vividly, beautifully alive; he does it for the people who enter them.”
—Poul Anderson, author of The High Crusade

“Peter S. Beagle is the magician we all apprenticed ourselves to.”
—Lisa Goldstein, author of The Red Magician and The Uncertain Places

“Peter S. Beagle would be one of the century’s great writers in any arena he chose; we readers must feel blessed that Beagle picked fantasy as a homeland.”
—Edward Bryant, author of Cinnabar

Praise for In Calabria

[STARRED REVIEW] “Acclaimed fantasist Beagle (Summerlong) sets this charming, lyrical tale of unicorns and love on a poor little hillside farm in the toe of boot-shaped Italy, where 47-year-old Claudio Bianchi scratches out a meager existence for himself, old dog Garibaldi, goat Cherubino, three cows, a pig, and three cats. Claudio writes poetry, too, and one day a golden-white unicorn appears to him as a gentle reminder of the freedom animals and humans have lost. The unicorn becomes the one miracle of Claudio’s life—and the ultimate tourist attraction. He protects her as best he can from hordes of reporters, television crews and helicopters, animal rights activists, yearning yokels, and even the Calabrian ’Ndràngheta mob. After Claudio helps the unicorn deliver her colt, his heart, frozen by an earlier tragedy, warms to Giovanna, the intrepid 20-ish sister of the postman. Neatly playing the strictures of Claudio’s simple rural life against the shimmering wildness of the unicorn, Beagle’s kindly fable shows how a man who seems to have nothing can really have everything—with just a touch of magic.”
Publishers Weekly

“A novella about love in a world of hardship, loss, magic, and recovery. Beagle’s unicorns have never been more bewitching, impossible, and genuine. I cherished every page.”
—Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked and After Alice 

Praise for Summerlong

“Peter Beagle’s novel Summerlong is a lovely, tantalizing read that moves through a finely-detailed, familiar world into a tale as old and as urgent as language.  Its strong-minded characters grab threads of the tale and try to pull it into wildly different directions, tangling passion, comedy, love, despair into a study of life on the B-flat harmonica, accompanied by a soundtrack of wind and waves, and, always, good smells from the kitchen.”
—Patricia A. McKillip, author of Dreams of Distant Shores  and Kingfisher

Praise for A Fine & Private Place

 “One of literature’s most beautiful works about ghostly times and places…told with wit, charm, and a sense of individuality.”
New York Times Book Review

“Both sepulchral and oddly appealing…. [Beagle’s] ectoplasmic fable has a distinct mossy charm.”
TIME Magazine

A Fine & Private Place is just as wonderful as I remembered it to be: beautifully written, the characters warmly drawn, the pages filled with conversations that run the gamut of the human condition.”
Fantasy & Science Fiction

Praise for Sleight of Hand

“Multiple Hugo and Nebula award–winning Beagle opens readers’ eyes to wonder with his latest collection of 13 short stories. Each piece bridges the rich intersection of fantasy and fairy tale, reality and possibility, exploring predestination, fate, and the power of love through characters that come to vivid, three-dimensional life within a few short pages. Beagle’s lyrical writing is set in a wide range of landscapes both familiar and fresh, with twists on Jack and the Beanstalk, monsters and dragons, a singing enchantress, ghostly photographs, and a modern werewolf tale.”
Library Journal

“Wise, warm and deep.”
The New York Times 

“The perfect book”
Strange Horizons

Visit the Peter S. Beagle website.

Table of Contents

The Green-Eyed Boy
The Story of Kao Yu - First time in print (2017 Locus Award finalist)
My Son Heydari and the Karkadann - First time in print (appeared in a Humble Bundle limited ebook edition)
The Queen Who Could Not Walk
Trinity County, CA: You'll Want to Come Again and We'll Be Glad to See You!
The Way it Works Out and All
Schmendrick Alone -  First publication
Great-Grandmother in the Cellar
The Very Nasty Aquarium  - First publication
Music, When Soft Voices Die
Olfert Dapper’s Day

Other books by this author…