This book was provided to me by Tachyon Publications via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
The Overneath by Peter S. Beagle
An odd couple 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, with new and uncollected work, Beagle once again proves himself a master of the imagination. (via Goodreads)
Why was I interested in this book?
Peter S. Beagle is one of my favorite authors and I’m always excited to see a new collection of his short stories.
What Worked and Didn’t Work
The majority of stories in this anthology follow something of a theme: unicorns and other mythological friends. Three of the fourteen stories are about unicorns, whether the traditional western European version or the chi-lin of China and Indian karkadann. There is also an assortment of dragons and trolls and other shape-shifters. My favorite of the anthology was “Trinity County, CA: You’ll Want to Come Again and We’ll Be Glad to See You!”, positing the creation of an organizational cross between the ATF and SPCA if dragons were a part of this world and possibly used by California marijuana growers for “security.”
Another two stories are about the early days of Schmendrick the Magician, from The Last Unicorn. While always nice to have his narrative expanded, neither “The Green Eyed Boy” nor “Schmendrick Alone” come close to the pathos and complexity of “The Woman Who Married the Man in the Moon,” a story from the 2011 collection Sleight of Hand. My second favorite story of the book involves a different “wizard” and gives the book its title. In “The Way it Works Out and All,” a fictional Beagle and fictional Avram Davidson embark on an adventure into the Overneath, an alternate plane of sorts—navigable, if careful.
The setups for a couple of the stories were rather long and the collection might have been better if it were about one story shorter. My nomination would be “Music, when Soft Voices Die” or “Olfert Drapper’s Day,” though the latter does fit the theme better.
A whimsical collection with definite high points.
Many of Peter S. Beagle’s ebooks are being sold by Conlan Press. Currently, Peter S. Beagle and Connor Cochran, the founder of Conlan Press, are involved in a legal dispute. I doubt that money from Conlan Press ebooks will get to Mr. Beagle. (Not to mention the many, many customers of Conlan Press who purchased physical merchandise, but have never received it.) Be aware when you purchase.
Publishing info, my copy: Kindle ebook, Tachyon Publications, 11/07/17