The Sea Beast Takes a Lover

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 14 Feb 2018

Member Reviews

I received a free ebook version of this from Netgalley. Thankyou to both Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to read this! My review is still honest.

This collection of short stories was such a joy to read. The stories themselves were a mixed bag-there were a couple I really didn't like, but some that I really loved. As a collection however, it worked very well as a book full of different concepts and thought-provoking ideas, and that is what I have rated it as. If you are into sci-fi at all, this is one for you. 

If you are like me and enjoy having a good idea about a book before reading, then continue reading! If you prefer to go in blind, then please stop reading now! There are no explicit spoilers, but I do explain the premise and give a brief individual review of each story in this collection.
Our Fathers at Sea is set in a world where the old are ‘crated’ in what is considered a traditional family ritual. ‘Crating’ just so happens to be the term to describe when a group of the old and infirm are dropped into a crate in the sea and effectively eliminated. This one wasn’t particularly exciting for such a controversial concept, but it was interesting and had a very sociopathic character whose perspective was odd to read from. It did seem a little too long-winded and I think a lot more could have been done with this concept, so this one gets a 4 stars from me.
Bodies is about robots and aliens and an affair. I’m sure there was some deep meaning that I was meant to fathom, but unfortunately this one went over my head. I found it sweet and mildly interesting, but I’ll probably forget about it quickly. 2 stars.
The Sea Beast Takes a Lover is an odd one about a sea monster that is gradually sinking a ship. I think a story like this one works best as a great epic novel, as I didn’t feel much about this in short story form. It was exciting, however. 3 stars.
The King’s Teacup at Rest is one of my favourites. It follows the King of Retired Amusements, a sentient bear and a boy trying to find his place. It makes almost no sense, but the atmosphere and descriptions in this one were excellent. There was such a sense of unease and detachment and just a feeling that something is not right. 4 stars.
He is the Rainstorm and the Sandstorm, Hallelujah, Hallejuah is a story with a title that sounds like a Panic! At the Disco song. It was another good one about a disturbed child and twisted maternal instincts, but it was ultimately unfulflling. An open ending didn’t work well for this one. 3.5 stars.
Rockabye, Rocketboy was also one of my favourites. It was so strange and odd, but I loved it. It follows a world where people live in very high buildings, and a young boy legend is known to fly around the skies on turbines. The main character is a erotic star who is obsessed with the rocketboy. This one was just the right kind of weird, and I loved the weird setting and plot. 5 stars.
Andy, Lord of Ruin is the story of a boy who explodes. It’s another endlessly strange one with no real meaning that I can discern, but it was really entertaining to read. Any one of these stories could be a full novel or movie. 3.5 stars.
The Saints in the Parlour is one that makes no sense to me. It has a little irony and dry humour, and follows saints who find themselves in an unfamiliar house. It was interesting, but I just didn’t understand this one. 2 stars.
Jenny is about a headless girl, and it left me feeling very confused and icky. I just don’t get the point of this one at all, especially the ending. 1 star.
Rite of Baptism was about a twisted form of a christening, I’d guess. It was unspeakably bizarre and just a little bit funny. Unfortunately, it was another one that I just didn’t understand! 2 stars.
Blunderbuss is about a school trip to a time travel institute. I really liked this one! It talked a lot about the dilemmas and ethical implications of time travel, and was quite funny to top it off! 4 stars.
Was this review helpful?
The Sea Beast Takes a Lover is a work of supreme imagination. Michael Andreasen’s writing breaks down boundaries of time, space, and genre to create a multi-faceted jewel of story-telling. Andreasen’s stories are paradoxical: surreal but relatable; familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. A boy trying to find his family, a young man frustrated by familial expectations, a family saying goodbye to an elderly relative. It just also happens that the boy lives in a post-apocalyptic circus world and is guided by a bear, the young man is caring for his sister who has no head, and the elderly relative is going to be loaded into a crate and dropped into the sea. One of Andreasen’s many strengths is in his experimentation with voice. How often do you come across a story written in first person plural, or in the form of baptismal rites? Sometimes I found myself looking for something more: a hint of explanation – substance among the imaginative. But ultimately, I found the questions the stories raised stayed with me far longer than any answers would. Enjoy being surprised. Enjoy the unexpected. You’ll not come across a collection of stories this creative any time soon.
Was this review helpful?
I will not be reviewing this collection of short stories since I did not finish it. Although I liked the premise of many of the stories I just somehow didn't click with them as much as I had hoped.
Was this review helpful?
I was asked to review this book through NetGalley for my honest opinion. All thoughts on this book are my own. 

I admit that this wasn’t my type of book. I enjoy short stories and whilst some of them are well written they were just not for me.

I did enjoy the concept of the different types of love and how the author depicts these through different stories.
Was this review helpful?
This was such a wonderfully, deliciously weird collection of stories that ticked all of my boxes. Some of the stories are outright funny, others are quite sinister and the collection is really thoughtfully arranged. As I read each story, I decided that it was my favourite and that to me, is the definition of a great collection. The prose is beautiful in places and suitably spare in others and each story is unique. Honestly, these tales are not like anything I've ever read before, but I think that anyone who likes Kelly Link, Karen Russell or H P Lovecraft would find something to like here. After really struggling to pick one, I think that my favourite was 'The Saints in the Parlour,' which follows four saints as they try to make their way out of a house. It's quirky and funny and yet it also manages to be thought-provoking and ask some big questions about faith. I am truly blown away by the quality of this collection and will eagerly look forward to the next offering by Andreasen. For me, he is definitely one to watch.
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Was this review helpful?
First of all, I loved the writing. It did not seem like it was Andreasen’s debut book because his writing was eloquent, sophisticated. The stories were very detailed and judicious. I loved the first story, Our Fathers at Sea. The story played with our human emotions regarding family, aging, losing our loved ones. This story was beautiful and if I were to rate this one individually, it’d be 5/5. The second one was great as well. This and the last story of the book felt the most sci-fi among all of them. The last one about the perils of time travel was thought provoking, relevant to where our future is headed with overuse of technology. His stories often reminded me of a dystopian world where things appear normal with so many ominous things inconspicuous beneath the surface.

Those being said, I had high hopes for the rest of the book. But most of them turned out to be inauspicious. None of the stories were bad or boring. They were all beautifully written as I’ve mentioned before but they made me feel slightly queasy and uncomfortable, which very well might be what the author intended all along. All of the stories got some point across by presenting an extremely f**ed up world. The fact that sexual predators do not care about who they are assaulting or that coming of age and developing urges is not limited to perfectly formed humans. He wrote about our innate tendency to impress and the same old human flaw of getting drunk on power.

“Should we pray?” asks Saint Imperious Virgin.

“He hears us, even here, even now,” says Saint Prophet to some, Apostate to Others.

This is probably my favorite quote from the book. Thanks sheer depth between these lines! Another one of the stories which, in my opinion,was top notch. He explored family ties in an unorthodox way. His stories came together both from the angle of children growing up and also from the perspective of parents raising their children.

But while his writing presented modern proses and carefully constructed satire, I however did not appreciate his portrayal of women which sometimes seemed borderline misogynistic. I could not look past the fact that his female characters were mostly headless teenagers who can not go past a day without her brother’s help, or adulterers, care givers and whores. I felt like the characters were sacrificed and that the potential of a promising debut novel butchered. It was disappointing. It’s tricky to put one’s finger on it but once you take some time to think about it, it really is quite obvious even though his stories are carefully wrought.

Thanks to Dutton Books, Penguin Randomhouse for sending me an ARC of this book for review and Netgalley for the digital ARC.
Was this review helpful?
The Sea Beast Takes a Lover is a collection of slightly odd short stories which all share a similar vibe, however, not one I can just pinpoint like that. They are easy to read, quite imaginative and all of them pretty shattering by the end. I am not a huge fan of short stories (as they almost always involve incomprehensible levels of oddity), and maybe that's why I feel like I could have enjoyed this book more. But if you're a fan of short stories, you will probably like The Sea Beast Takes a Lover.

Some Of The Stories Are Brilliant
My favorite is probably the one with the sea beast - the one that gave the book its name. Yes, it's literally a sea beast who decided to mate with a ship. And its love and care is currently sinking it. The story is refreshingly witty, colorful and lively, and the ending is simply perfect. Mermaids who like to read Bronte sisters and Asimov. An amorous sea monster. A drowning library. A cannibal admiral (it even rhymes!) And all of that humor in death. The ship is almost an allegory of our current political and economical system, the world nothing more than a sinking wreck, the deck hands eating scraps, the officers still eating good food, and the captain eating... the officers. "All sailors are Christians moonlighting as witch doctors." - had the rest of the stories been as strong as this one, I would have felt much differently about this collection!

But Some Of The Other Stories...
As it is typical with short stories, they are decidedly odd - as I've already mentioned. Some of them are odder than others. And I feel like this was most of the stories in this collection. Roughly around the middle I just stopped trying and gave up wrapping my mind around some of them. And that's alright - maybe they're just not for me. Hence the 3 stars!

I thank Apollo for giving me a copy of the book in exchange to my honest opinion.
Was this review helpful?
I really liked reading this book. I was intrigued by the plot and characters throughout the story.
Would definitely recommend to my bookloving friends
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
Having read this incredible collection I would love to take a wander round Michael Andreasen's mind…Or maybe not. In doing so I might run the risk of getting drawn into a vortex of wonders and nightmares which merge and separate in such an unimaginable number of alarming, bizarre and mesmerising combinations that I might eventually lose myself.
This is speculative writing on an epic and intimate scale which places the prosaic with the downright outrageous side by side, yet never loses sight of the story and encouraging the reader to really think about the world around them; where they fit in it, as well as all the physical, psychological and moral issues they might have to contend with on a daily basis.
For anyone considering writing in this field, this collection of short stories demonstrates what can be done by taking the everyday and the weird, then crafting them into something which is not only very entertaining, and engaging, but also shifts you through a range of emotions. Andreasen is also a master of luring you into a story, developing great depth to the characters, then keeping you in suspense as to where the narrative is going right to the very end.
It is a collection which takes several readings before you gather up all the nuances, but at the same time you're likely to want a reread, just for the pleasure of it. Although I currently have an e-book review copy this is one I will want to have as a hardcopy for my shelves, so I can pull it off and refer to it.
Was this review helpful?
The Sea Beast Takes A Lover is the most imaginative piece of literature I have ever read by some measure. Each story is set in a world we recognise as our own,  but each has a strange and surreal element: a teenager loves and is frustrated by his sister, who does not have a head; a man mourns the break down of his marriage after his extra-marital affair, which was discovered when he and his lover were abducted by aliens.

Don't be fooled into thinking you're tucking into a science-fiction collection. Like George Saunders' acclaimed Tenth of December, although the stories have an other-worldlyness about them, this works to reveal truths about the nature of humanity and our relationships. Unlike Saunders' collection, Andreasen does not take himself so seriously. His voice can be heard in each story, like a knowing grin or a raised eyebrow, acknowledging the absurdity of it all - the stories and ourselves.

Michael Andreasen is a wonderful new literary voice and I can't wait to see what he does with his wit, imagination and lyricism next.
Was this review helpful?
The Sea Beast Takes a Lover is a set of short stories and Michael Andreasen's first book. And it is weird. Really weird. Weird like Roald Dahl is weird. If you've read Dahl's stories for adults you know exactly what I mean.
For example, there is a story about a girl born without a head reaching puberty. There is another story about a boy who goes nuclear (honestly, I don't know how else to describe it). And a third story is about dropping off elderly people at the bottom of the sea, presumably to solve over-population problems.
I really enjoyed the story about the headless girl, Jenny, which is particularly good at drawing you into a totally unrealistic world.
But. There is always a but. Andreasen's ideas are too weird for short stories. He doesn't have enough pages to explore plot and character and setting. One of those three is often left behind and as a result a lot of the stories just don't work.
I'd love to read a novel by hi, because, as I say, his ideas are great, but the short stories are too hit and miss. It's not a bad read but Andreasen hasn't found his niche yet.
I received this as an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


Verdict: the creative weirdness of Roald Dahl but the format is too short to properly develop his ideas
Read if you like: Roald Dahl's short stories, the bizarre

The Sea Beast Takes a Lover by Michael Andreasen ⭐️⭐️


This will be available from March at https://wethreereaders.wordpress.com/
Was this review helpful?
One of the most imaginative short story collections I've read. Astonishingly, Andreasen manages to build a new world in each of his short narratives and each of them is as compelling and immersive as the last. Sci-Fi with a sense of humour and real insight into human nature.
Was this review helpful?
There were many bizarre notions, set in strange landscapes, that were put forward in this motley collection of stories, but the themes that bound them all were firmly placed in our own reality. The links of love and the loss of it, grief and the different coping mechanisms utilised, our connection to each other and to the varied places we call home: these are what this collection is truly about... no matter what the seemingly fantastical focus of each story might otherwise promote. I appreciated how the author went about inviting the reader to really view these everyday concepts by placing them in unknown environs but, ultimately, found these stories a little too bizarre for my personal preference despite how acutely they were executed. I wanted to spend longer in and to understand each realm but still really liked what the author set about to do, which I believe he accomplished with great prowess.
Was this review helpful?
I don't think I've ever read a short story collection that I enjoyed this much, before. Even the one or two I didn't really like were still solidly written.

If you're happy to accept short stories as snapshots, and don't expect any kind of explanation, AND you love weird speculative fiction, I highly recommend grabbing a copy of this when it's published next year.

Thank you to Netgalley for the review copy.
Was this review helpful?
A really great and unique collection of short stories. I loved the mix of science fiction, fantasy and fabulism and each story was also thoroughly unique in its own right within the collection. It felt like a completely different perspective or writing style in each entry but they all worked well together, being linked by humour and a clever view of the world around us.
Was this review helpful?
My interest in this book was limited to the title. I was intrigued. I JUST HAD TO READ IT BUT somewhere in my mind I had this feeling that I was going to be disappointed by what I encounter when I saw the email stating that my request for the book had been approved. I felt giddy with excitement but there was also a hint of sadness - THAT IT'LL BE A BIG-ASS DISAPPOINTMENT.

And let me tell you one thing -

I HAVE NEVER BEEN SO FUCKING WRONG IN MY ENTIRE LIFE (except maybe once, when I was little and thought that if I dug deep enough, I'll find lava ;p)

The writing was surprisingly gripping. It flowed from word to word, sentence to sentence like a river released from a dam. I felt myself drawn into these stories in spite of myself.

The writing is just as surreal and otherworldly as the title.

The author has this rare quality of making the simplest actions seem poignant, It wasn't done to the extreme though - WHICH I QUITE LIKED. I wonder if there are more like him who can write with such ease? Or at least make it seem like it?

It's amazing how the subtle, tricky emotions never leave the word. That's the kind of narrative that actually leaves an impression on the reader - one soo faint YET effective. These stories will stay with me forever - even if just the essence of them. But I am NOT FORGETTING THE IMPACT - EVER!

The Sea Beast Takes A Lover deals with loss in a remarkable way. Reading these stories felt like being on a ship in the middle of the ocean: a constant splatter of emotions - Always on the surface, but embedded deep into the words as well.

UNEASINESS, 
A SENSE OF DETACHMENT, 
GUILT, 
LOVE,  
FEAR, and 
HOPE

Every little thought is presented in a way that I felt like I was right there, in the author's mind. It felt so effortless. The narrator's thoughts enters the reader's mind with a jolt and the distance between him and the reader seems to vanish as soon as he starts speaking.

Every story in this book was an odd mix of peace and restlessness and I could not avoid feeling either. There was such an easy originality to it, such that stares right into your face the whole time BUT is subtle in ways that you'll miss if you do not pay a very close attention.

An alien abduction (one of the stories - BODIES IN SPACE) wouldn't have been this interesting if it wasn't simultaneously linked to the regret and memory of a man ashamed of his choices. The most impressive quality is the author's ability to weave important matters - emotions - with the seemingly lifeless ones - providing a freshness to each word and a magical charm to each sentence.

As I moved from story to story, my mind was painted with such vivid images in my mind that I was left thoroughly shook. and I AM NOT KIDDING when I say that there aren't many people who can do that with a literary quality. The details drawn around every little scene were marvelous and breathtaking.

The Sea Beast Takes a Lover poses magnificent questions hidden under a cloak of simplicity. This book demands your entire attention BUT AT THE SAME TIME, draws you in ever so stealthily, like a mouse nudging at a piece of cheese and you won't realize what held power over your attention until AFTER you've been thrown out of the MAGICAL (in the most subtle ways) ride.  And then, you'll just sit there, wondering if it really is over because your mind is still haunted by those stories and YOU LIKE IT THAT WAY.  It leaves your head full of the remnants once you are done reading it but it gives you the liberty to put in your own thoughts as well - 

The beautiful union between the words on the pages and the thoughts in your mind will leave you in a gentle exhilaration.
Was this review helpful?
Where do you begin when you even start to contemplate reviewing the 11 short stories by Michael Andreasen is this collection. Words like surreal, absurd, bizarre, fantastical, weird and lunatic immediately come to mind. You are placed in a world that has some elements of reality about it but also a world that occupies the outer reaches of the imaginative mind. You are not sure whether you are in the past, present or future or indeed a combination of the three. A girl without a head and the crating of the old to be despatched to the ocean depths is treated as normal. Religious concepts are played around with and taken to absurdist conclusions. 

I fully admit that this may not be to everyone's taste and it certainly requires a degree of concentration by the reader as one concept interchanges with another and there is no certainty as to how the story will develop and end. If you are looking for neat conclusions with all the ends tied up this is not for you. But if you want to be taken on a journey and are prepared to relinquish your thought processes then I would recommend.
Was this review helpful?
2.5 stars. 

These are unique and well written short stories, just a little too off piste and bizarro for my personal tastes. 

Unsurprisingly there seems to be somewhat of a ‘sea’ theme in the stories I read, which I’m not all that into myself. 

Not exactly what I would call magical realism, I think I would class this collection as more surrealist that anything else. 

I never felt quite rooted enough in the worlds I was reading about, so I never really felt affected by any stories. Would try a novel by this author for sure though.
Was this review helpful?
An interesting and surreal collection of short stories.  They definitely keep the readers attention, but most of them had sudden abrupt endings.  There was no closure on the story - it made it feel like it was an intro or teaser to another bigger story.  If it was, I would definitely read them, but at the moment am left feeling a bit unsatisfied.
Was this review helpful?