Peter S. Beagle’s THE OVERNEATH sparkles with gems old and new
A trio of recommendations for Peter S. Beagle’s forthcoming THE OVERNEATH.
SABRINA’S LIBRARY praises the collection.
Of all the magical creatures Beagle has written about, unicorns loom largest in the author’s catalogue. THE LAST UNICORN is arguably one of his best-known works, thanks to the beloved animated film from the 1980s, to say nothing of the novel’s stunning prose and wonderfully well-drawn characters. In this book, Beagle captures all the magnificence of unicorns and spellbinds his audience to follow them wherever they may lead. I’ve often suspected he became ensnared in his own literary spell. Is it any wonder that he’s often found himself writing about those mythical creatures? IN CALABRIA involved unicorns at the heart of its plot, and Beagle’s new short story collection, THE OVERNEATH, which will be published by Tachyon in November, features three very different stories about unicorns, and another two in the universe of The Last Unicorn. While there are storytellers who often retread the same subjects, Beagle is one who manages to make the experience feel new every single time.
The stories that takes place in the world of THE LAST UNICORN both feature the hapless magician, Schmendrick. In “The Green-Eyed Boy,” we learn how Schmendrick came to study with the great wizard Nikos and the cost of power. The narrative picks up in “Schmendrick Alone,” where we find Schmendrick on the road, using his wits and burgeoning power to fend off bandits. At their heart, these are character pieces that enrich their story universe, but Beagle infuses both stories with heart and sorrow. It’s no wonder Schmendrick is one of Beagle’s most beloved characters: he’s just like us as he wanders along, hoping he’s making the right choices and persevering even when he doesn’t.
My absolute favorite story in the collection had nothing to do with unicorns, however. I adored “The Very Nasty Aquarium,” which incorporates Caribbean folklore and genuine chills in the form of an evil pirate turned aquarium ornament. I really wish this were a longer story because I didn’t want to leave any of the characters, even the aquarium figurines. I also loved the plucky older ladies that took matters into their own hands, red underpants and all. I don’t often come across stories that manage to be both heartwarming and terrifying, but this one does so quite successfully.
There’s a story in this collection for everyone. Beagle may revisit similar subjects, but he never writes the same story twice. 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.
Photo: Rina Weisman
CONFESSIONS OF A BOOK ADDICT rates the volume a 5 of 5 stars.
I highly recommend this collection. His short stories are just as magical as his novels and novellas. There is so much atmosphere, such great character development in such short spaces. The stories are interesting (except that troll one – that one kind of left a bad taste in my mouth). And the unicorns! Okay, I think there was only one unicorn. But that’s all right. The fantasy was there, the mood, the magic and the wonder of it all. Read this if you are a fan. Even if you’re not a fan, give it a shot. You never know what you might find…
The Portuguese site RASCUNHOS raves abut the book.
A Master’s Storybook ! With some excellent stories and others less enveloping, there is no denying the writer’s ability to write. Even when the stories are less interesting they are well built and cohesive.
Translation from Portuguese courtesy of Google
For more info on THE OVERNEATH, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover design by Elizabeth Story
For more info about IN CALABRIA, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover design by Elizabeth Story