Sunday, February 17, 2008


Since I liked Samantha Hunt's The Invention of Everything Else so much, I looked into what other books she had written.

Just because I like a particular book does not mean I will read everything else that the author has written--I have not read Ursula LeGuin's science fiction works in spite of the fact that I rank her Earthsea books up there with Tolkien, but when I saw that Hunt's first book The Seas was based on Undine, an early German story written about 1812 and somewhat similar to the Little Mermaid fairy tale, I knew I just had to read it. Fairy tale retellings and 'mythic fiction' are my particular favorite styles of fiction.

Wow. What a weird little book. If you want to know what it's like to be inside the head of a disturbed, somewhat mentally off-kilter girl, this is the book for you. I liked it for the lyrical, strong prose and for the unique take on a fairy tale, but I don't know if I will re-read it anytime soon since you are thoroughly inhabiting the mind of this unfortunate girl and it can be an uncomfortable experience. That, and the rendition of the sea as a living, somewhat careless entity creeped me out (I kept thinking of my experience swimming through a bed of seaweed... ugh).

I particularly liked this quote, which probably doesn't make any sense outside of the context of the book, but maybe you can appreciate its irony:
"The possibility that this might be the truth swoops near my head like a bat at dusk, a bat that soon flies off in the other direction uninterested in me" (p. 186).

This girl is so engrossed in her version of things (convincing herself that she is a mermaid; that her father did not drown at sea, but is waiting for her out there; that her friend melted into water after she kissed him) that, even though she is aware of it, she refuses to acknowledge the truth.

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