Review: Mermaids and Other Mysteries of the Deep

Mermaids and Other Mysteries of the DeepMermaids and Other Mysteries of the Deep by Paula Guran
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another excellent Paula Guran anthology! This time thoroughly exploring the breadth of folklore and mythos surrounding water-based entities: rusalka, selkies, mer, nereids, et al. Whereas vampires often personify passion and sex, and zombies claw at the very definition of humanity, these creatures often personify longing, dysmorphia and gender-dysphoria. Creatures with a foot in two worlds rarely fully sync with both and that discomfit makes for great story telling.

There are a few stories of science fiction in which humans have modified themselves to exploit the oceans, and not without consequence. Three give perspectives on the celtic lore of selkies, the seal people that can strip off their seal skin and appear as human. A couple tales highlight the slavic rusalka, water spirits born of the violence when a young woman purposely drowns herself. Many of the stories are haunting. Not surprisingly, many also contain a heavy queer element due to the dysmorphic nature of mer.

I’ve reviewed each story contained within. My favorites were:
Delaney, Samuel R.–“Driftglass”–5 stars
Lee, Tanith–“Magritte’s Secret Agent”–5 stars
Monette, Sarah–“Somewhere Beneath Those Waves Was Her Home”–5 stars

Bear, Elizabeth–“Swell”–4 stars
Gaiman, Neil–“The Sea Change”–4 stars
Kiernan, Caitlin R.–“The Mermaid of the Concrete Ocean”–4 stars
Slatter, Angela–“A Good Husband”–4 stars
Taborska, Anna–“Rusalka”–4 stars
Valente, Catherynne M.–“Urchins, While Swimming”–4 stars
Wise, A. C.–“Letters to a Body on the Cusp of Drowning”–4 stars

Also included:
Barzak, Christopher–“The Drowned Mermaid”–3 stars
Beagle, Peter S.–“Salt Wine”–3 stars
Downum, Amanda–“Flotsam”–3 stars
Howard, Chris–“The Mermaid Game”–3 stars
Lanagan, Margo–“Sea-Hearts”–3 stars
Rambo, Cat–“The Mermaids Singing Each to Each”–3 stars
Wolfe, Gene–“The Nebraskan and the Nereid”–3 stars
McGuire, Seanan–“Each to Each”–2 stars
Sherman, Delia–“Miss Carstairs and the Merman”–2 stars
Valentine, Genevieve–“Abyssus Abyssum Invocat–2 stars
Yolen, Jane–“The Corridors of the Sea”–2 stars
Hannett, Lisa L.–“Forever, Miss Tapekwa County”–1 star

I received my copy of the anthology directly from Prime Books. This collection is highly recommended. Previously, I’ve reviewed two other Paula Guran anthologies:
After the End: Recent Apocalypses–4 stars
Extreme Zombies–4 stars
[Check out my other reviews here.]

One response to “Review: Mermaids and Other Mysteries of the Deep

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