Reviews Logo
SearchHomeContents PageSite Map
Under in the Mere
Catherynne M. Valente
Rabid Transit Press, 146 pages

Catherynne M. Valente
Catherynne M. Valente was born on Cinco de Mayo, 1979 in Seattle, WA, but grew up in in the wheatgrass paradise of Northern California. She graduated from high school at age 15, going on to UC San Diego and Edinburgh University, receiving her B.A. in Classics with an emphasis in Ancient Greek Linguistics.

Her work in poetry and fiction can be found online and in print in such journals as Poetic Injustice, NYC Big City Lit, Byzantium, the forthcoming collection The Book of Fabulous Beasts, The Pomona Valley Review, The American River Review, and the anthology Approaching El Dorado (Twin Dolphin Press).

Her first chapbook, Music of a Proto-Suicide, was released in the winter of 2004.

Catherynne M. Valente Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Palimpsest
SF Site Review: A Guide to Folktales in Fragile Dialects
SF Site Review: The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden
SF Site Review: The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden
SF Site Review: The Labyrinth

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Mario Guslandi

Under in the Mere A distinguished fantasist, renowned for her stylish prose (a fine example is the award-winning In the Night Garden), Catherynne M. Valente has an unique writing ability, namely to make the plot a marginal aspect of her fiction, sometimes almost a mere pretext to give room to her poetic inspiration. In Under in the Mere, however, Valente's main characteristic is stretched to the extreme limits and, instead of representing her strength, becomes her weak point.

Loosely inspired to the Arthurian legends, the novella recreates old myths, employing the author's imaginative power and her well-known, uncommon ability to carve exquisite phrasing and to delight the reader with her masterful wording. Valente's beautiful language has a musical quality that envelops the reader like an intoxicating melody, or, better, a complex, overwhelming symphony.

In the present volume, unfortunately, the story and the events get drowned in an ocean of words and sentences to such an extent to become insubstantial and elusive. Carried away by the lyricism of the language, the reader finds himself at a loss when trying to realize what's actually going on.

Thus, you're going to like or dislike this book in relation to what you're seeking in it. If you're looking for clear, solid storytelling, or at least a story with a beginning, a plot and an ending, then you'd better keep off because this is not the book for you.

If you just want to luxuriate in your armchair, indulging in the sensations elicited by a musical prose dancing at the edge of poetry, and you don't care about an actual story, you'll probably enjoy Under in the Mere. In this respect, mention must be made of the extraordinary interior illustrations of the Tarot cards provided by the acclaimed artists James A. Owen and Jeremy Owen.

Personally, as much as I may like Valente's elegant writing style, I felt a bit cheated by an arcane, obscure text which appears to be going nowhere and taking me nowhere.

As the old Latin saying states Rem tene, verba sequentur.

Copyright © 2010 by Mario Guslandi

Mario Guslandi lives in Milan, Italy, and is a long-time fan of dark fiction. His book reviews have appeared on a number of genre websites such as The Alien Online, Infinity Plus, Necropsy, The Agony Column and Horrorwold.

SearchContents PageSite MapContact UsCopyright

If you find any errors, typos or other stuff worth mentioning, please send it to
Copyright © 1996-2014 SF Site All Rights Reserved Worldwide