Book Reviews

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

Desdemona and the Deep by C.S.E. Cooney was one of my Page One books. It arrived last fall. I had never heard of the book, and didn’t think much of it when it arrived. The cover of the book gave me big fall vibes, so I thought it was a perfect choice for this season.

The Story

Award-winning author C.S.E. Cooney indulges in luxurious, dizzying fantasy.

In Desdemona and the Deep, the spoiled daughter of a rich mining family must retrieve the tithe of men her father promised to the world below. On the surface, her world is rife with industrial pollution that ruins the health of poor factory workers while the idle rich indulge themselves in unheard-of luxury. Below are goblins, mysterious kingdoms, and an entirely different hierarchy.

My Thoughts

I gave Desdemona and the Deep one star. ONE STAR. The last time I did that was for Ember by Brock Adams. However, I actually finished Desdemona, which is more than I can say for Ember.

As I was researching this book after I finished it, I saw somewhere refer to it as “novella style,” which actually makes sense. I haven’t read many novellas, but it’s just a mini-novel (as far as I understand it). I think that the concept of this book would have been better served by a full novel, or even a series of books.

I finished the book and honestly had no idea what happened. I tried to describe the book to someone at book club and struggled. However, this is how I would describe it:

“A very spoiled girl (but really she’s 28 and behaves like she’s 15) sees her father making some deal with a creature in the fire one night. Her father is paying a tithe of 36 souls to someone who lives in one of the ‘lower levels’ of the world. For whatever reason, this really bothers Desdemona and she decides to go get them back. She gets really drunk with her friend Chaz because they need to recite poetry, and then they fall to the second world. She meets some sort of creature named Farklewith? But Chaz isn’t in the second world. Then she makes it to the third world somehow and grows 9 tails. Chaz is now a woman. They make it to the second world again where Chaz marries some creature and the person/creature they saved. She stays behind. Desdemona makes it home but only saves 21 lives instead of the full 36.”

NONE OF IT MADE SENSE. There was so much going on in such a small number of pages. The concept was interesting, but there wasn’t enough time spent developing anything or anyone. I mean, Desdemona’s selfish booty suddenly deciding that she wanted to save the lives of the miners? It just didn’t make sense. So many type of creatures were introduced but not described enough for any sort of accurate picture.

I would not recommend this book to anyone. From what I can see, I’m in the somewhat minority of people who have read this book and did not enjoy it. It has gone into my “books to leave the house” pile and will either go to 2nd & Charles or a little free library around me.

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