Member Reviews

This is a collection of wonderful short stories, many of which deal with different interpretations of Unicorns which were the stories I liked the most. Not that I’m totally caught up in the pastel, iridescent unicorn trend, I like a unicorn that can do a bit of damage you know what I mean? That’s the kind of unicorn we have here.

I’ll confess I’ve never read any Peter S. Beagle before so some of the stories which link with his other work may have nuances that were lost on me, for the most part, however, you can understand what is going on.

What struck me about this collection is how Beagle can write different voices. Each story feels distinct and unique, you don’t descend into a monotonous drudge as some short story collections can do.

One of my favourite stories was that which gives the collection it’s name. The Overneath reminded me a little of the different Londons in V. A. Schwabb’s ADSOM series. I actually think you could conjure a whole novel out of the idea, but doubtless it would be phenomenally complicated so I understand why Beagle stuck to this format.

While some elements are reminiscent of classic folk tales, others smack of science fiction influences. The key element which unites these stories, for me, was the authors clear passion for them. Some ideas have been fermenting for many a year while others seem to have written themselves.

If this is an indication of the standard of Beagle’s work then sign me up to read some more! (Oh my poor TBR).

My rating: 4/5 stars

The Overneath publishes on the 7th of November so be sure to keep your eyes peeled!

By the way, I received a digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Was this review helpful?

This anthology was amazing and well written. Although this is the first novel I have read but Peter S. Beagle it sure won't be my last. My favorite stories were Underbridge (amazing character development) and Trinity County CA: You'll Want to Come Again and We'll Want to See you (a plot so good you won't be able to put the story down unfinished). I didn't hate any stories but my least favorite was Olfert Dapper's Day.

I would suggest this novel to all fantasy fans out there.

I got this story for free from the publisher.

The Green-Eyed Boy - 3.5/5 stars
This story is a prequel to The Last Unicorn. Although it can be read on its own (like I did) I feel like a lot is lost. Still a good story though.

The Story of Kao-Yo - 4/5 stars
The authors version of a unicorn story. It takes place in China with a judge as the main character. There was a complexity to the story I didn't, especially at the end regarding judge and the unicorn.

My Son Heydari and the Karkadann - 4.5/5 stars
This is another unicorn story, however instead of the unicorn being mysterious and powerful it is more territorial and maleficent. I really enjoyed this story as it gives a different twist to an old legend.

The Queen Who Could Not Walk - 4/5 stars
A princess loses her ability to walk on her wedding night. The prince still marries her where she remains Queen till she is old and forced out to be (due to God's wishes). While begging she learns the true price of greed, revenge and vanity.

Trinity County, CA: You'll Want to Come Again and We'll Be Glad to See you! - 5/5 stars
One of my favorite stories in this analogy. Two deputies that are part of D Patrol, they investigate dragons being bred, raised or kept illegally. I loved the plot and the amount of detail Beagle put into the dragons.

They Way It Works Out and All - 4/5 stars
This story is the origin behind the title. There was tons of promise behind his story but the execution wasn't as well done as I was hoping. If the main character was braver the story would have gone so much farther. Still a great story though.

Kaskia - 3.5/5 stars
Martin buys a new computer with hidden features. One of those features allows him to communicate with an unknown entity. I feel there were numerous elements to this story but the only one I got was that people can and will disguise who they are online.

Schmendrick Alone - 4/5 stars
This story takes place in The Last Unicorn universe but it more of a standalone story then The Green-Eyed Boy. Schmendrick is finally out in the world after his 7-year apprenticeship but he has a lot to learn about life and magic.

Great-Grandmother In the Cellar - 4/5 stars
This story is written like a classic fairytale with an enchanted daughter, a powerful but evil wizard and a resurrected grandmother. I thought the ending was perfect in this story.

Underbridge - 5/5 stars
This story takes place in Seattle with a troll. The main character was really despicable and I was glad to see he got what he deserved.

The Very Nasty Aquarium - 3/5/5 stars
This story follows two retired school teachers as they try to rid an aquarium of a duppy. This story was incredibly unique, the beginning was a little slow but it quickly picked up.

Music, When Soft Voices Die - 4.5/5 stars
This is the only horror story in the novel. I wouldn't say it was scary but it was definitely unnerving. This story had me looking over my shoulder a few times before I feel asleep.

Olfert Dapper's Day - 3/5 stars
Dr. Olfert Dapper moves to the New World and befriends an aboriginal man named Rain Coming. Together they see a unicorn. Although the story was good I was confused why he was forced out of town yet Remorse Kirtley was accepted. I also didn't understand and hated that the Unicorn liked Remorse better because she was a virgin. This story was okay, I found the concept of virginity being an outdated concept.

Was this review helpful?

This is an incredibly varied book of short stories that live up to the usual high quality of Beagle's work. It has something for everyone from lovers of The Last Unicorn (Hello, Schmendrick!) to steampunk fans. There were stories that I enjoyed more than others, for sure but that is par for the course with short story collections. If you are a fan of Peter S. Beagle you should definitely pick this one up.
I received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

Short stories by the author of <i>The Last Unicorn</i>, several of which revisit that most evocative of creatures (albeit not always in the familiar Western version - and one of the variants is a far less noble creature), and a couple more of which fill out the earlier life of that book’s erratic mage Schmendrick. The rest of the pieces tends towards urban fantasy, in its non-formulaic sense – because even when I love something like the Peter Grant books, it’s inevitable that the smart narrator and the codification of his world do gradually familiarise you with what should be marvels. Whereas in these brief glimpses, a piece of sculpture with ideas above its station, or a haunted aquarium, or a computer with a very unusual key remain as utterly strange and fabulous as they really would be. The wonderful title story is a piece in memory of Beagle’s late friend Avram Davidson which, while rather different from your standard memorial, fits the man far better - really giving a sense of his personality and his qualities, and definitely doing him due honour. The collection includes a brief note with each story, which I always appreciate – and Beagle’s notes are more honest than some writers about not loving all these children equally. For one of the longest (and for me, weakest) pieces here, for instance – a story whose alternate history setting doesn’t seem to contribute much to its core – it definitely helps to have Beagle admit that it was written for a steampunk anthology, despite his not really knowing what steampunk is.

(Netgalley ARC)

Was this review helpful?

The Overneath is Peter S. Beagle's latest offering of short stories. There is definitely something for everyone in here. Do you love Schmendrick? He is in two stories! Do you love urban fantasy? What about stories set in exotic locales or times? This anthology has you covered! Each story is rich in character, action, and detail. I liked all the stories, but the real stand outs for me were "The Green-Eyed Boy," "The Queen Who Could Not Walk," and "Trinity County, CA: You'll Want to Come Again and We'll Be Glad to See You." If you already love Peter S. Beagle, you need to run to get a copy of this book. If you have never read his work, it is an excellent introduction, which will leave you longing to dig into his catalog.

Was this review helpful?

I loved this book. I had never read anything by Peter Beagle before, but I will definitely look into his books now. I had heard of him, but had never sought him out before this. This was an excellent collection of stories, and a really good primer on his writing style. I found his stories to be extremely engaging, even when I was wary at first. My personal favorites were the stories involving Schmendrick, the various unicorn stories, and the story with the dragons at drug dens. Overall, a fantastic read, and one that I am glad I found!

Was this review helpful?

This is an outstanding collection of fantasy author Peter S. Beagle's short stories, from those set in the Land of Far Away and Long Ago to those with a contemporary fantasy setting. Beagle, whose best-loved novel is The Last Unicorn, excels in the several unicorn tales here. I also loved his stories with a strong or brave heroine. His engaging writing leaves me with a warm feeling, even when a story is scary or sad. Beagle's writing has heart, and his characters shine.

Was this review helpful?

The Overneath by Peter S. Beagle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So far, I've been enjoying Beagle's works and this is my first real taste of his short fiction. I'm sure that there will be a ton of fans going ga-ga over the fact that there are two Schmendrick shorts here!

Even so, I think I enjoyed a number of the other stories a bit more. I'm particularly fond of his Steampunk story: Music, When Soft Voices Die which had a particularly awesome horror feel. Indeed, I think I prefer all the stories that had that taste, such as these three: The Very Nasty Aquarium, Great Grandmother in the Cellar, and Underbridge.

Even better are timeless stories like: The Queen Who Could Not Walk. There was something about this one that really got to me.

Even so, there's a little something for everyone in this collection, especially if you like unicorn tales that don't fit in Beagle's Last Unicorn universe. There's even a delightful SF about a lonely guy with an awesome computer who has a penpal across the universe. :)

I admit to liking but not loving most of these, but I can't complain about the quality of any of it! I am quite pleased with the quality of the research and the depth of the myths inside some of the tales. Magic is everywhere. :)

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC!

Was this review helpful?

So, the first and most important thing that lead me right into being like "YES, NETGALLEY, I WOULD LOVE TO READ THIS BOOK" is that the green-eyed boy featured in the first story "The Green-Eyed Boy" is in fact, Schmendrick the Magician, last of the red hot swamis. A young Schmendrick, who has just started his apprenticeship with Nikos, a master wizard. We see Schmendrick's clumsy attempts to work the powerful magic that he has right from the beginning. I loved it. Getting his origin story, so to speak, an outcast boy from a family that cares not a whit for him... even his name, from a Yiddish word that means something along the lines of "somebody out of his depth" as Beagle once put it, is a source of shame for him. Poor Schmendrick. I feel for him. What an amazing opener for this book of stories!

There are a few stories about unicorns in this anthology (surprise!), but they are all different kinds of unicorns.

For example, The Story of Kao Yu tells the story of a travelling judge who is occasionally helped out by a chi-lin, a Chinese unicorn. My Son Heydari and the Karkadann is a story about a wounded Persian unicorn, a karkadann - somewhat like a rhinoceros - being nursed back to health by a local boy. 

It also has a bunch of fantastic stories in it that aren't about unicorns, like The Queen Who Could Not Walk, which had a really fantastic reveal, and Trinity County, CA : You'll Want to Come Again and We'll Be Glad to See You! which is about a group of people that go in and rescue illegal exotic animals in Trinity County... only the exotic animals in this case, are dragons. Kaskia is a story about a middle aged man with a failing marriage who buys a strange laptop from his cousin and ends up instant messaging an alien with it. Music, When Soft Voices Die is a really cool story about a medical student in Victorian England who builds a machine that starts to pick up random voices, and it's a bit of a mystery finding out what they are and where they come from. Really surreal and wonderfully written stories of all different kinds.

It was awesome from start to finish. Never samey, never boring. I loved the entire collection, and I'll be honest here, I can only say that about 3 short story anthologies that I've ever read (including this one). So, there you go. :)

Many thanks to NetGalley and Tachyon Publications for the advance reader copy of this book.

Was this review helpful?

This being my 400th book to review in 2017 I felt it called for something special and since the 50th anniversary of one of the most enduring classics that has impacted an untold number of children is coming up next year I knew the perfect author to choose.

Peter S. Beagle gave us The Last Unicorn in 1968 which was then made into a movie in 1982 which is currently playing on Netflix if you need a reminder. His talent to create vivid settings, enchanting characters and worlds that came straight out of our dreams and nightmares taught us about the world in a refreshingly honest way
.
Even 60 years after he started putting pen to page what made Beagle so uplifting, fresh and enduring has not lost its luster with his latest collection of short stories.

We have over ten tales to take us away including the chance to relive that childhood magic from long ago by meeting Schmendrick once again. Diving into his illustrious work you get to walk down memory lane when life could just be full of mythic beings, hauntings to give you goosebumps and people you wish were real so they could make this world just a little easier to live in.

You will travel to China and immerse yourself in beautiful Asian folklore, to the Middle East where the sands of time are wiped away to tickle your imagination, or maybe very close to your own backyard where Dragons might just exist..

What is truly beautiful about this book is that Beagle’s writing lets you believe, if only for a little while, that magic, mythos and wonder are real. As you enter his world you become part of it and for that time the impossible is achievable.

Was this review helpful?

I am not a huge fan of short stories, but when I saw this collection by Beagle, who I have loved ever since childhood, I couldn't resist. And these stories are just as charming as The Last Unicorn. Yes, there are fantastical beasts (three unicorns?!) and magic from other lands. There is the title story, about a world passageway that is just outside of sight, but has its perils. But my favorite was the story of a very uncanny aquarium and it's inhabitants, and their retired elementary school teacher owner.

I enjoyed all of the stories, and liked the bonus of two stories about our man Shmendrick. But mostly I was entranced by the style of the writing, and the ease with which Beagle makes the fantastical real. I would love to live in his world, even when it's a bit scary and off-putting.

Was this review helpful?

Yet another incredible collection of short stories from world renowned Fantasy Author Peter S Beagle. I was extra excited for The Overneath because I'd heard it featured a story about our very own Schmendrick the Magician. But imagine my delight when I discovered not one but two Schmendrick stories!!

In addition, there is of course plenty of other stories in here which deserve praise of their own. From stories about the Fremont Bridge Troll (of which I had never previously heard of but am now fascinated by) to stories of otherworlds where our world lays in the shadows.

I particularly liked the story about a group of men living together and one of them creates an electronic device which without giving spoilers has a spooky purpose. Another favourite has to be the one about a haunted aquarium and it's retired teachers for heroines.

Peter S Beagle just has an incredible skill for putting together both short and full length stories. I have been in love with The Last Unicorn my whole life and I continue to adore every single thing Peter writes. The Overneath is no different. A fantasy lover's heaven from start to finish.

Was this review helpful?