Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Desdemona and the Deep, by C.S.E. Cooney

★★★★☆ A Fun Little Adventure across Three Worlds

(Portal Fantasy) When Desdemona’s wealthy father sacrifices some coal miners for a new source of oil, she decides to confront the Koboldkin King in the World Beneath the World Beneath. If she can even get there. Or get back. (41,028 words; Time: 2h:16m)

See related articles on

"Desdemona and the Deep," by (edited by Ellen Datlow), published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Review: 2019.413 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: This is a story of transformations, and not the least is Desdemona’s transformation from an insensitive rich girl into a champion of the desperate. This is also the story of Chaz’s transformation into the woman “he’d” always longed to be in the flesh and beyond that to her real destiny. It’s also the story of the transformation of the Valwode. At the same time, the world of Athe itself is undergoing transformation as women and workers gain political power.

Although the technology and culture in Athe seem to be about the level of 1900s England, Athe is a secondary world, and this is not an alternate history fantasy. Normally a portal fantasy has one end in our world, but I decided this is probably best described that way anyway. “Alternate Reality Portal Fantasy” seemed a little to clumsy.

Phossy Jaw” was a real thing. The use of white phosphorous was banned worldwide in the early 1900s.

Con: There was no justice for the miners H.H. murdered. Perhaps it’s unreasonable to have expected there to be, but it still disappointed me. H.H. gets off scott-free.

For some reason, I didn’t develop deep feelings for any of the characters. The only really emotional moment for me was when Desdemona led the survivors to the surface.

Other Reviews: Search Web,
C.S.E. Cooney Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

Follow RSR on Twitter, Facebook, RSS, or E-mail.

1 comment (may contain spoilers):

  1. I really liked this one. The cover by Alyssa Winans is beautiful.