Saturday, September 13, 2008

BOOK REVIEW: Down to a Sunless Sea by Mathias B. Freese

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
BooksPlease (margaret)
Kevin Eagan at Blogcritics Magazine
David Fraser at Ascent Aspirations Magazine
Duff Brenna at Pif Magazine


  1. I've added a link to your review on my post too.
    And yes, I've often opened the mailbox chute a few times to check that the letter had indeed gone in! :)

  2. I more often check my mailbox to see if the mail has arrived than I do to make sure the mail I'm sending out is still there--probably because I can see it sticking out if it is still there. I have been known to check for mail on Sundays, knowing full well there is no delivery service that day though. :-)

    Wonderful review, Terri. I think you captured the collection very well.

  3. I've been reading a number of short stories lately. Although I do like darker things, I also prefer them to be on the funny side. Sounds like you had a little bit of that with this collection.

  4. tanabata: I love reciprocal review linking! It's so helpful to be able to read a variety of viewpoints.

    literary feline: Just hoping for that Sunday book delivery? I have actually found things in my box on a Sunday. I'm sure it was because my mail ended up at the neighbors on Saturday though. So, you see, there just might be something in your box Sunday :o)

    trish: Yes, I would definitely call the humor in this book dark -- funny but not funny.