My rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Published by Head of Zeus, March 8th
Genre: Fantastical Short Stories
Bewitching and playful, with its feet only slightly tethered to the world we know, The Sea Beast Takes a Lover explores hope, love, and loss across a series of surreal landscapes and wild metamorphoses. Just because Jenny was born without a head doesn’t mean she isn’t still annoying to her older brother, and just because the Man of the Future’s carefully planned extramarital affair ends in alien abduction and network fame doesn’t mean he can’t still pine for his absent wife. Romping through the fantastic with big-hearted ease, these stories cut to the core of what it means to navigate family, faith, and longing, whether in the form of a lovesick kraken slowly dragging a ship of sailors into the sea, a small town euthanizing its grandfathers in a time-honored ritual, or a third-grade field trip learning that time travel is even more wondrous–and more perilous–than they might imagine.
Andreasen’s stories are simultaneously daring and deeply familiar, unfolding in wildly inventive worlds that convey our common yearning for connection and understanding. With a captivating new voice from an incredible author, The Sea Beast Takes a Lover uses the supernatural and extraordinary to expose us at our most human.
I was beyond excited about this: it sounded so very much up my alley. The biggest strength of this collection is Andreasen’s fascinating use of juxtaposition: pirates with smart phones, doubting saints, death as celebration. His premises are brilliant and his imagination flawless; however, there was something missing for me here. I cannot quite pinpoint what exactly my problem with this collection was. There is nothing wrong with it per se but it did not invoke any strong feelings in me whatsoever.
As usual, there were stories that were stronger than others. I particularly enjoyed Rockabye, Rocketboy; a story about a boy about to explode. It’s quiet rumination on compassion and doing what is right really resonated with me. I also really happen to love short stories told from a collective we-perspective. I also adored The Saints in the Parlour: I found it funny and moving and just very clever. On the other end of the spectrum I thought The Man Of The Future fell flat. The main character was unsympathetic and felt slightly lazily constructed. The message of this story stayed muddled for me.
Overall, the writing is solid, the premises intriguing. It just was not the slam-dunk I thougt it would be, quite far from it actually. I did include it in my 5-star prediction post and my list of most anticipated releases after all.
I received an arc of this book curtesy of NetGalley and Head of Zeus in exchange for an honest review.