Review: “Abyssus Abyssum Invocat” by Genevieve Valentine

2 of 5 stars.

Borrowing heavily from “The Little Mermaid” by Hans Christian Andersen, this tale reads like the fairy tale itself in its 3-part construction. Plain Miss Warren with sea-foam hair and glass green eyes, appears one winter to take over the geography class in a Cornish school. She is inappropriately drawn to 16 y.o. Matthew, a brooding student that likes to draw the sea.

Miss Warren pens a mermaid-themed fairy tale and hides it in Matthew’s book. It is a tragic tale of unrequited love. Matthew draws his response. She then changes the story and slips a new version in his book. Again, it is of unrequited love, but more hopeless. He again draws his response. Miss Warren then pens a third version that is outright macabre . . .

The interactions between the two characters are awkward at best, and not in an unrequited love sort of way. Rather than coming across as two people communicating via the evolving fairy tale, this curious short story comes across as a fairy tale trapped within a fairy tale, but without heart.

This story appears in the latest anthology edited by Paula Guran, Mermaids and Other Mysteries of the Deep, published by Prime Books. “Abyssus Abyssum Invocat” first appeared in Lightspeed, February 2013.
[Check out my other reviews here.]

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