Led by prophecy, the directions of the witches that dwell beyond the Troll Wall, viking King Authun raids a monastery not for riches but for a boy child, a child stolen from the gods. Instead Authun find twins. He takes both, leaving one with the witches, taking the other to claim as his heir.
Vali is fostered away from Anthun, promised to wed another Viking King’s daughter, but has eyes only for a farmers’s daughter named Adisla. Feileg is raised in the wilds, more wolf than man, a far cry from his brother’s royal upbringing, and is shown a rare bit of sympathy and affection by Adisla when he is captured. Adisla is the thread that ties them together and drives them towards their fate. For they are pawns in the scheming of the gods, and the gods fight for keeps.
Wolfangel is thick with old world magic- shamans and witches, runes and drums and terrifying ritual. It’s fantasy elements seem perfectly rooted into the historical and are more mythological than fantastical. It keeps the book believable. Even as gods and witches are fighting it out in the background, the main story is one of love as both brothers work to save Adisla. It is a love story set against the backdrop of an ancient Norse society- harsh, often beautiful, and utterly enthralling in its ferocity. Eerie and atmospheric, albeit violent, it is not a book for the faint of heart. It takes the Norse warrior spirit into account and may characters are sent to feast in Valhalla.
“On the landing, the roses of the Queen of Elfland, as clamorous as trumpets, continued to shout their glory to the uncomprehending house.” (‘Sarah Monette, Somewhere Beneath Those Waves, pg 185)
Like the Queen of Elfland’s roses, the stories contained in ‘Somewhere Beneath Those Waves’ will sing out their glory long after the reader had turned the final page. Contained within are captive figureheads and selkies, dragons and dreams and all the hopes and nightmares caught in between. The stories whisper of love and terror, and kept me up late into the night with a driving need to keep reading. The stories are all so very different, but are told in such a starkly elegant voice a reader cannot help but be compelled to pay attention.
For me, the stories that stood out most were ‘Three Letters from the Queen of Elfland’- a haunting story about love and lust and reasons humans are not meant to love faeries, ‘Katabasis: Seraphic Trains’- an atmospheric and elegant piece about inspiration and the darker corners of human motivation, ‘Amante Doree’- an almost historical piece with spies and issues of gender and acceptance, ‘Under the Beansidhe’s Pillow’- a short, gorgeous piece about the bits of culture and its spirits that immigrated to America, and both ‘A Night in Electric Squidland’ and ‘Imposters’- two stunning bits of urban fantasy with truly likable characters.
This collection should be on everyone’s shelf. It has a story for everyone, from fairy tale to horror and back again, each story unique and yet somehow still pulling the collection together as a whole.