Down to a Sunless Sea is a short story anthology by Mathias B. Freese that is truly sunless. The stories in this collection exude darkness as they delve into the minds of disturbed souls. That the author is familiar with such human darkness is not surprising since he spent twenty-five years as a clinical social worker and psychotherapist. He doesn't offer answers or solutions to the problems that disturb humanity, but a sense of compassion for the damaged does come through as he refuses to look the other way and ignore the ugliness that is a part of life.
The format of the stories is not traditional, with beginnings and middles and ends, nor are they plot driven. Each story has its own style which is tailored to the telling of that story. As with even the most tragic things in life, humor can sometimes be found within the pages of Down to a Sunless Sea.
I've got two favorite stories from this collection, and true to my nature they include a touch of the humorous. I was reminded of the tendency of folk to fear the wrong things in "The Chatham Bear." As the residents of a small town run for their guns in order to defend themselves from a foraging bear that all but ignores them, these same townspeople don't even notice the human cruelty that confronts them on a daily basis.
I laughed as I recognized a bit of myself in the compulsive behavior of the character in "Little Errands." I admit that I too have opened the chute to the corner mailbox repeatedly just to make sure my letter did indeed drop down into the collection bin! Haven't you?
The stories were sometimes baffling and mostly sad. If you're looking for something light or "sunny" to read, then these stories are not for you; but if you don't mind looking at the darker side of the human psyche, then you will find Down to a Sunless Sea thought provoking.
For more about the author, Mathias B. Freese, visit his blog or read an interview with the author.
Note to other reviewers: If you've written a review for this book, please let me know by posting the permanent URL for your review in the comments. I'll be happy to add a link to your review with my post.
Also reviewed at:
Musing of a Bookish Kitty (literary feline)
My Own Little Reading Room (guatami tripathy)
In Spring it is the Dawn (tanabata)
The Dark Phantom
Kevin Eagan at Blogcritics Magazine
David Fraser at Ascent Aspirations Magazine
Duff Brenna at Pif Magazine