C.S.E. Cooney’s Desdemona and the Deep drops readers into an uncanny, richly painted underworld reminiscent of the early twentieth century. On the surface, Desdemona’s 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. Below, the goblin king himself welcomes you and yours to an enchanted evening filled with glittering guests and delectations. We recommend that you follow the rules.
A luxurious, dizzying fantasy, Desdemona and the Deep is available July 23 from Tor.com Publishing.
* * *
Welcome to Breakers Beyond, my gobblywobblies. I, Erl-Lord Kalos Kantzaros, King of Kobolds and all the goblin court, give you good greetings.
No, no. No need to grovel.
Oh, all right, you can grovel. In fact, I am of the opinion you are not quite groveling enough…
There. That’s better.
I see you are dressed in your finest, my koboldkin. I see that you are dribbling jewels and ore, black oil and coal dust, bone and stone and stalagmite. I see that you have polished your chiton, dusted your wing membranes, filed your spikes, honed your scales. Your tails are sleek and excitable, your hooves are sharp and shining, and your teeth are the envy of barracudas and megalodons everywhere.
And that is fine and right, that is more than appropriate; that is etiquette! For we are here to celebrate!
I have called you here to our dark court tonight, my delectable deeplings, to welcome with full festival masquerade the newest goblin in our midst, Desdemona Mannering.
That used to be her name, anyway.
Now, however, after her infamous journey through the Mirradarra Doorway, Miss Mannering (as was) shall be known to all here gathered as the goblin Tattercoats!
A Tattercoats, as you know, is a species of the Nine-Tails genus, from the Thousandfurs family. I have named this particular Tattercoats my personal courier.
Until she displeases me, of course. Then I shall name her my dinner.
Desdemona Tattercoats has come to us—yea, unto the very loathly depths of Bana the Bone Kingdom—from two worlds above, from Athe, the world of air.
She is a mortal maid (we must perforce use the term “maid” lightly, having heard much of her predilection for sopranos and journalists, not to mention hapless poets) who, through trial, travail, and not a little tribulation has decided that, indeed, it is better to dwell among us goblins, in the World Beneath the World Beneath.
Well. We could have told her that.
In a different world, far from the three we know, there might have been a poet wise enough to warn this bold, brash maid away from our kind with a well-timed: “You should not peep at goblin men!”
But, alas! (Or rather, WHOOPEE!) The world of Athe boasts no such Christina Rossettis. And our toothsome and tailsome Desdemona is no golden-curled Laura to be had for such a measly bargain.
Our own dear Tattercoats—née Desdemona Mannering—has dared barter with me herself, with Erl-Lord Kalos Kantzaros, to win the lives of the men whom her father sold down-world…
And at such a price. A price that would make even you, my eldritch darlings, shiver in your filigreed protuberances.
But I shall let her tell the tale. Dare to ask Desdemona Tattercoats to dance with you tonight and demand of her—but ‘ware her fangs and claws—the tale of her adventure to the deep.
C.S.E. Cooney lives and writes in the Borough of Queens, whose borders are water. She is an audiobook narrator, the singer/songwriter Brimstone Rhine, and author of World Fantasy Award-winning Bone Swans: Stories (Mythic Delirium 2015). Her short fiction can be found in Ellen Datlow’s Mad Hatters and March Hares: All-New Stories from the World of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Jonathan Strahan’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume 12, Paula Guran’s 2016 The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Novellas, five editions of Rich Horton’s Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, Mike Allen’s Clockwork Phoenix Anthology (3 and 5), Lightspeed Magazine, Strange Horizons, Apex, Uncanny Magazine Black Gate, Papaveria Press, GigaNotoSaurus, The Mammoth Book of Steampunk, and elsewhere.