Sunday, April 29, 2012

Short Story Review: The Witch Sea by Sarah Diemer

The Witch Sea is a marvellous mythological-fairytale short story from Sarah Diemer. It features a weary and desperate sea god trapped on land, a witch trapped in a difficult inheritance, and a seal girl with a loving heart, trapped by love. As a side note,  I had the hauntingly beautiful song, "Sedna" by Heather Dale, playing in my head the entire time I was reading (based on an Inuit sea goddess who made the creatures of the sea). I believe this may actually be my favourite of Sarah Diemer's works so far. She has also made it available for FREE on Smashwords and Amazon.

Long ago, the dread sea god Galo apparently decided to lead an army onto land to wipe out humanity, and came ashore, took human form, and called up his creatures behind him. Unfortunately for him, a local witch managed to step in, and cut off his access to the sea by weaving a silver net of magic across the bay. Any sea creature that comes through is transformed into a human by the god She maintained this for the rest of her life and passed the duty on to her daughter, and granddaughter. And now her descendant keeps a lonely siege in her lighthouse.

What we don't know is how true the above history is; the grandmother was obviously an opinionated sort of woman, but long dead, and the sea god isn't talking (I can imagine her taking offence, or them falling out, or just making assumptions, or her making a final and desperate stand against an evil, or at least dreadfully chaotic, god). But now he's tired and aging in his human form, and desperate for the net to be dropped so that his army can grow. Or so that he can leave. Who knows? The witch Meriel certainly doesn't. Over the years, he has tried increasingly desperate blandishments and stratagems on the lonely witch in her lighthouse, but always failed. And then he sends a young seal girl called Nor, innocent and bright and new, who brings affection to the lonely witch woman. And the witch's world starts to crumble around her, as her heart reaches out to this lovely maiden.

It is vaguely similar to the selkie story; the lovely seal girl trapped ashore in her human form by her lover, until she is able to return to the sea as a seal, but no further than that. The setting is ambiguous, but feels like a lonely stretch of Scottish coast, if only because I am projecting from the Selkie associations.

It is short, but it's pretty perfect. Much as I'd like a longer story, I think it works so well because it's short. I think the main reason it worked so well is because she didn't try to force it into a happily ever after (generally her writing is poetic, fluffy, sappy, romantic, fairytale-like; sometimes that's amazing, sometimes it gets a little annoying), but let the characters do what their motivations and personalities dictated. There is sex, but it is non-graphic, so this is just fine for younger readers.

And wow, proper art on the cover. It is tragic how rare that is in lesbian fiction.

Awards/ Downloading the Story
 The shorter, original version won first place in the "Kissed by Venus" Fresh Voices short story competition, and the author rewrote it and made it available for free on Smashwords, to celebrate. You can also download the Kindle version on Amazon (now free, apparently Amazon took a while to process that!).

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1 comment:

  1. Read the short version and then bought the full version.

    I love a good story where the witch finds love. Thanks for introducing me to a new author!