Review: “The Sea Beast Takes a Lover: Stories” by Michael Andreasen

Disclosure: This book was provided to me by Edelweiss free of charge in return for an honest and unbiased review. This book is scheduled to be released on February 27, 2018 by Dutton Books.

I enjoy short stories.  Short story collections, however, are always a gamble.  On one hand, if you chance an anthology containing stories of an already dear author (say Stephen King) you go into the ordeal knowing that you will be disappointed on one level or another.  Sure there will be a few brilliant stories but the rest just end up feeling like a chore.  On the other hand, if the compilation contains a selection of different authors, the chance of discovering that rare, new author within sometimes makes the work worth the effort.

I had never heard of Michael Andreasen but the title of his collected stories was enough to compel me to read them.  And when I was finished I could not honestly say that all of the stories were O.M.G., the BEST thing EVAH (to be fair, this is not something that I would say in any situation) but I was convinced that Michael Andreasen was an author that I wanted to keep tabs on, one that I look forward to reading more from in the future.

The tales within “The Sea Beast Takes a Lover” are Surreal.  Wry.  Disturbing.  Distorted.  Whimsical.  Heartbreaking.  Most importantly, they are just the right level of messed-up to hold my attention.  There are 11 collected stories in “The Sea Beast Takes a Lover”:

Our Fathers at Sea – It’s important to treat your Elders with respect and dignity.  See what crating can do for you!
Bodies in Space  – Where we meet the Man and the Woman of the Future.
The Sea Beast Takes a Lover – A rag-tag group of sailors are stuck in their own little purgatory awaiting their imminent demise.
The King’s Teacup at Rest – What happens to amusement parks when they die?
He is the Rainstorm and the Sandstorm, Hallelujah, Hallelujah – that’s one precious baby.
Rockabye, Rocketboy – the risks of loving someone from afar
The Saints in the Parlor – All are welcome here!
Andy, Lord of Ruin – What happens when a boy becomes nuclear?
Jenny – A boy is responsible for taking care of his headless sister.
Rite of Baptism  – True story 😉
Blunderbuss – The risks of time travel explained.

My favorite stories were Our Fathers at Sea, The Sea Beast Takes a Lover, Rockabye, Rocketboy and The Saints in the Parlor.  The only story I didn’t care for was He is the Rainstorm and the Sandstorm, Hallelujah, Hallelujah.  It is well-written but it doesn’t really develop like the other tales.  In the end, it just left me a little hollow.

So if you’re looking for something quick, something weird, then I highly recommend “The Sea Beast Takes a Lover: Stories” by Michael Andreasen.  Each tale is wildly imaginative and Andreasen excels at allowing his stories to unfold naturally.  He gives his readers just enough to form an emotional bond to his worlds and his characters and to interpret the deeper meanings contained within.  That he is able to achieve this in the 20-odd pages per story is proof of his accomplishments as a writer.

As a side note: Can I just say job well done to whomever selected the order of the stories in this book.  They ended up feeling perfectly balanced to me so…YAY!

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