Book: “Into the Drowning Deep” by Mira Grant
Publishing Info: Orbit, November 2017
Where Did I Get This Book: I received an ARC from the publisher.
Book Description: Seven years ago, the Atargatis set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a “mockumentary” bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legend. It was lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a maritime tragedy.
Now, a new crew has been assembled. But this time they’re not out to entertain. Some seek to validate their life’s work. Some seek the greatest hunt of all. Some seek the truth. But for the ambitious young scientist Victoria Stewart this is a voyage to uncover the fate of the sister she lost.
Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the waves.
But the secrets of the deep come with a price.
Review: A special thanks to Orbit for providing me with an ARC of this book!
I’ve come to learn many truths within this literary world, and one of those truths is that if you want some well plotted out techno-horror, Mira Grant is the person to go to. I’ve mentioned her “Newsflesh” Series here before, and I reviewed the most recent book “Feedback”, as well as her short story “Final Girls”. Basically, Mira Grant is one of the most original and fun tech horror writers out there, and she needs more attention. I will admit that I went into “Into the Drowning Deep” with little knowledge about it. So imagine my surprise when early on it became quite clear what kind of story I was getting myself into.
I mean, honestly, at this point she had me and I was guaranteed to give it a solid review. But let’s talk about why I liked this book so much, beyond mermaids disemboweling people. To start, the plot is exciting and interesting from the get go. While we don’t see much about the ‘doomed voyage’ of the Atargatis (but if you want to, the prequel story “Rolling in the Deep” is about that voyage), we do get to see those who have been affected by it and their motivations for wanting to follow up with it. The range of reasons is wide for our characters. For Tory it is because her older sister was the media face for Imagine, the network that sent the movie crew out to the Mariana Trench in the first place. Tory is an Ahab-esque character, though far more likable. She has a vendetta out for whatever killed her sister Anne (in “Rolling in the Deep”), and her pain and rage makes her a very human and sympathetic person to follow. You also have Dr. Jillian Toth, who is an Academic who has always believed in mermaids. This is both a validation of her work, but also a painful reminder that her enthusiasm and certainty of their existence was one of the motivators that sent the Artagatis out in the first place. Along with that is the fact her estranged husband Theo is on board too, who left his conservation activism life after an accident left him in chronic pain…. and joined Imagine as a suit. And you have Olivia, the new face for Imagine Entertainment, who finds herself in a mutual attraction with Tory, even though she has the job that Anne had. Which, of course, leads to some angst for Tory. You also have big game hunters, cryptozoologists, scientists, and others that round out our cast, all of them feeling very real and human, a skill that Grant has always had a knack for.
Grant is known for bringing a certain amount of fascinating at at times ‘hard’ (at least for me!) science into her horror stories. As someone who isn’t terribly science minded, she manages to make some pretty complex (to me) concepts and break them down for the average person like me, and to effortlessly weave them into her story lines without forcing them to fit. In “Into the Drowning Deep” that science is climate change, and how it could potentially change our oceans, as well as potential technology that could come forth because of it. “Into the Drowning Deep” takes place in 2020, and works under the assumption that in a mere four years things will be getting to the point of dire, ocean ecosystem wise, and this book brings up these ideas while incorporating them into the greater plot. She also peppers a lot of the story with facts about the ocean and sea life, and this fan of Monterey Bay, California was pleased as punch that a lot of the action at the beginning takes place there. Grant’s science has always been a bit of a trademark, and this book continues that grand tradition.
And even though perhaps the idea of ‘killer mermaids’ sounds silly to you, this book is so well done that it completely sells it. Grant does a great job of giving these mermaids an evolutionary basis, and finds them a place in the ocean ecosystem that makes them seem like they could, in fact, exist. The slow build of found footage descriptions to the reveal of the deadly mermaids deep under the sea, all the way to the inevitable slaughter had me flipping through the pages quickly, needing to find out what comes next. While this book could have come off as cheesy, it never does, and the stakes are high as Grant holds no sacred cows, character wise. You have to go into a Grant book assuming that at LEAST one of your favorite characters isn’t going to make it out alive, and even knowing this I still was caught off guard and saddened by a few of those who become mermaid chow.
“Into the Drowning Deep” was a scary and entertaining read that I had a hard time walking away from. Mira Grant is absolutely one of those authors who I am always going to be on the look out for, and I hope that the wait for the next in the series isn’t that long. I think that the literary world could use more killer mermaids, and I can’t wait to see where Grant takes them next.
Rating 8: A fun, frightening romp through the dangers of the ocean, “Into The Drowning Deep” kept me on the edge of my seat and a smile on my face. Bring on more killer merfolk!
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