I enjoyed reading this book, it really drew me in with its dreamy and hypnotic descriptions of another world. The purple and pink dust jacket of the book reflects the colours of the strange forest that grows in the Submundo Delta which is the ‘world’ featured in the story. The flora and fauna of the Submundo are nothing like those in the rest of our world and even the trees are completely alien, in fact the author even describes how the Delta smells differently to anywhere else on the planet. The Submundo is under our Earth and can only be reached by boat via the river Lethe which is located somewhere in South America. To get to the Delta you have to pass through the mysterious Zona de Olvido or zone of forgetfulness. When you leave the Zona you cannot remember anything at all that happened there.
The main character in the book is a policeman from London called Ben Ronson who is travelling to the Submundo to report on how to stop the people who now live in the Delta killing Duendes which are very odd human-like creatures who are indigenous to the area. The local people, or Mundinos, were introduced into the Delta in the 1800s and Duendes have been killed by them for so long it is now a part of their culture so it will be very hard to stop them doing it. Duendes are not like any other creature and quite literally get inside your head, which is why the Mundinos try to avoid them and resort to killing them.
I do not want to put any spoilers here but I will say that the story is more about how we regard ourselves and who we think we are rather than about how Ben will stop the Duende killings.
I enjoyed reading this a lot and I loved the description of the Submundo Delta and the clever way that the Zona works. I liked some of the other characters in the book though more than I liked Ben, who I found quite wooden. For instance, Rico was an interesting guy and I would have liked to know what happened to him.
I was disappointed by the way the book ended though as after such an amazing story it just seemed to fizzle out rather.
Sara Boorman 4/3
Beneath the World, A Sea by Chris Beckett
Corvus 9781786491558 hbk Apr 2019