Book Review: “Testing the Waters: (A Mythic Short Story)” by Tammie Painter

Testing the WatersThis story is a mystery; but not in the typical “whodunnit” genre; rather, it’s a mystery of what is happening in the little town of Port Athens. It’s a fishing town, and one of the fishermen, Eli P. Marin, has come back with a trident, which sets all the town on edge.

Soon, everyone in the town–all of whom have their own private interests, scandals, and skeletons in their closets, are gossiping about it. Eventually, Marin makes his announcement, and it is met with a grave response.

The writing is crisp, and I love the way the relationships between the townsfolk are portrayed. It’s even more fun once you figure you out what’s really going on. I’ll give you a hint: the characters’ names matter a great deal in this story, so pay attention to that. At first, I wondered why they all followed a certain pattern–and once I figured it out, I shook my head in amusement for not catching on sooner. It’s really neat.

Hmm, what else can I say about this story that won’t give it away? Not much, unfortunately. Maybe this: it made me think of Lovecraft’s The Shadow Over Innsmouth meets Gilbert and Sullivan’s Thespis. That’s actually a huge spoiler, but I’m gambling that it’s so obscure you’ll quickly realize it’s fastest to just read the book to figure out what I mean. And you should read this book, because it’s a quick, easy read that’s also a lot of fun.


      1. Very true. No one can instil stifling dread like Lovecraft
        Apparently Lovecraft based ‘Innsmouth’ on the town of Newburyport in Massachusetts- which when the word got out I reckon did not endear him to the locals. 🤨

  1. Wow, this sounds interesting! Would you say there are any science fiction or fantasy elements? I’m trying to determine if this is something I could read and review for my blog. 🙂

    1. I’d say yes, there is a fantasy element, although it’s not explicitly present in the story–it’s more like a background idea that’s hinted at, but it’s definitely critical to the story all the same.

      Hope that helps; I’m trying to describe it without spoiling it! 🙂

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