cover image The Overneath

The Overneath

Peter S. Beagle. Tachyon, $15.95 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-1-61696-269-2

With sharp, lean elegance, Beagle (In Calabria) effortlessly chronicles the lives of unicorns, trolls, magicians, and adventurers in 13 poignant stories, many of which caution readers about magic gone awry and temperamental creatures. Cultivating his extensive knowledge of mythical beasts, Beagle travels the world in “The Story of Kao Yu,” in which a chi-lin (Chinese unicorn) passes the final judgment, and in “My Son Heydari and the Karkadann,” in which a Persian teenager nurses a dangerous karkadann. Beagle also recalls the themes of his classic novel The Last Unicorn with stories about misplaced love and misfortune around summoning a demon. In “The Way It Works Out and All,” a traveler discovers portals to the shadow world of Overneath. In “Olfert Dapper’s Day,” a Dutch swindler escapes to colonial Maine, where he is privy to a remarkable sight. Urban fantasy stories delight: in “Underbridge,” a lonely adjunct professor offers distraction to the Freemont Bridge Troll, and in “Trinity County, CA,” government agents search the California woods for drug dealers who guard their camps with dragons. The steampunk “Music, When Soft Voices Die” follows an inventor who hears unexpected voices coming from his new wireless transmitter. This enchanting collection employs simple humor and affectionate sarcasm and will enchant any reader who still believes in magic. Agent: Howard Morhaim, Howard Morhaim Literary. (Nov.)