Great-Grandmother in the Cellar

By: Peter S. Beagle

Series: Innkeeper's World

Book Number: 1.5

Star Rating:



Spoiler Disclaimer


Da'mas watched as the evil sorcerer with whom his sister fell in love placed the girl in a sleep that mimicked death. He tells Da'mas that she will not awaken unless she sees his face, something that will not happen unless Da'mas and his father agree to allow the wicked mage to marry her. Da'mas's father is out of town, and he's not sure how he can help his sister. He decides to go down to the cellar to awaken the great-grandmother he knows still lives there. As it turns out she is nothing but bones and must take over another's body in order to help. Da'mas volunteers his body, and together, they set out to stop the sorcerer and save his sister from his clutches.


Great-Grandmother in the Cellar is a short story in which Da'mas, the young protagonist, has just seen his sister put into a death sleep by an evil warlock with whom she'd fallen in love. With his father out of town and uncertain what to do, Da'mas goes in search of his great-grandmother, who he knows still inhabits the cellar. She is merely an animated skeleton and must take over Da'mas's body in order to help defeat the sorcerer and awaken his sister.

Great-Grandmother in the Cellar appears to be part of Peter S. Beagle's Innkeeper's World series, falling between the first two full-length novels of the series. I couldn't say in what way it's connected to the other books. Perhaps it's just part of the same world or perhaps there are common characters. I normally don't read series books out of order, but since neither the author nor the series was previously on my reading radar, I decided to go ahead and read this short story without prior knowledge of the world in which it's set and use it as an introduction to the author's work. Overall, it was fairly imaginative and solidly written, but maybe because it was part of a series, I felt like I was missing a little something, like perhaps if I'd read the first book before this one, it might have enhanced my understanding of the world in this novelette. Also for an adventurous fantasy story, it seemed to move a tad slowly. In general, it was a pretty good read and didn't have anything wrong with it per se. It just didn't speak to me in quite the same way as some of the other stories in Under My Hat: Tales from the Cauldron, the anthology in which it's found.


Peter S. Beagle