{Review} BLOOD & WATER by Alethea Kontis

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I've also reviewed ENCHANTED, interviewed author Alethea Kontis, and interviewed ENCHANTED cover designer Christine Kettner!

O P E N I N G   H O O K:
Love is the reason for many a wonderful and horrible thing.
Love was the reason I lived, there in the Deep, in the warm embrace of the ocean where Mother Earth's loins spread and gave birth to the world. Her soul was my soul.
Love is the reason she came to me in the darkness,that brave sea maiden. I remember the taste of her bravery, the euphoric sweetness of her fear. It came to me on wisps of current past the scattered glows of the predators.
The other predators.
Her chest contracted and I felt the sound waves cross the water, heard them with an organ so long unused I had thought it dead.
Help me, she said. I love him.
(pgs. 141 ~ 142, HAPPILY EVER AFTER Anthology,
US paperback first edition)

The most impressive thing about BLOOD & WATER is that it's from the sea witch's perspective. I haven't seen this done before. Much as I enjoyed Carolyn Turgeon's MERMAID in part due to the fact that the POV is shared by the often-neglected Princess, I loved that Alethea Kontis focused on the "villain" of The Little Mermaid and delved into discovering her origins and motivations. Side-Show Freaks posted an awesome article from Kontis regarding the origins of BLOOD & WATER that I highly recommend reading. Teaser: The idea stemmed from two separate words on a piece of paper, "vampire" and "mermaid." When strung together...well, what is a vampire mermaid?

The sea witch wasn't always a villain. She had the same brilliant soul as the little mermaid (in this version, they have souls), fell in love, and bargained more than she realized in the pursuit of love. The sea witch is trapped in an endless cycle of death and destruction, until the day comes when a besotted little mermaid comes asking for help, saying just the right words. The cycle begins anew, with the mermaid discovering the horrible price of her wish and all that it entails. Is the price of love too high?

Kontis flips around a well-known story in new, unexpected ways, and forces readers to think. BLOOD & WATER was written and published before her debut novel, ENCHANTED, and hints at all the potential in the author to create a fully-realized world that mixes the familiar with new ideas. It's a dark short story, but highly innovative, and I highly recommend reading it if you're a fan of The Little Mermaid or books from a "villain's" POV. BLOOD & WATER is available as part of the HAPPILY EVER AFTER anthology edited by John Klima (and featuring other Fairy Tale Greats such as Gregory Maguire, Neil Gaiman, and Jane Yolen), in Alethea Kontis' short story collection MAGIC AND MONSTERS, and is also available for 99¢ as an e-book. You can also read it as a subscriber of the Intergalactic Medicine Show.

C O V E R   D E S I G N:

...doesn't apply!

O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: edited by John Klima
Release Date: May 24, 2011
Publisher: Night Shade Books
Received: Gift

HAPPILY EVER AFTER is a star-studded book of fairy tales, featuring an introduction by Bill Willingham (Fables) and stories by Gregory Maguire, Susanna Clarke, Karen Joy Fowler, Charles de Lint, Holly Black, Garth Nix, Kelly Link, Peter Straub, Neil Gaiman, Patricia Briggs, and many other fantasy luminaries.