“The seas did not forgive, and they did not welcome their wayward children home.”
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.
Into the Drowning Deep is one of the most intricately told horror stories I’ve ever read. It can be aptly described as Jurassic Park, but with Mermaids. Just substitute the fictional Isla Nublar for the Mariana Trench, mountainous lush rainforests for the vast depths of our oceans, and cloned dinosaurs for an intelligent race of killer mermaids – and Voilà, you have my new favourite slow burn horror story.
This story is told from several perspectives, all of which are significant in the unfolding of this delicious slow burn horror about the lovely ladies of the sea. Our proxy into this world is grad student and sonar specialist (aka she studies audio of marine life) Tory Stewart, who is chasing the ghost of her sister that died on the first voyage to the Mariana Trench. Unable to solve the mystery of her sister’s death, Tory understandably harbours a lot of pain. Her perspective is so palatable as well. If sailing out into open waters surrounded by predators will give her the answers she needs, then that’s what she’ll do. Tory’s arc is also accompanied by the sweetest sapphic romance I think I’ve ever read. Ultimately though I think more than any other character, it’s Tory that most embodies what the secondary voyage to the Mariana Trench is about.
“We sail to answer a great mystery of the modern maritime age: what happened to the Atargatis? The question is deeply personal for many of us. The answer will not heal our wounds, but it may begin the process of healing. We will hopefully answer a greater, older mystery at the same time: are we alone on this planet?”
In saying that, this book is host to so many interesting characters. And because this is a Mira Grant book, there are diverse characters aplenty. Many of whom also find this expedition deeply personal. Amongst them is Dr. Jillian Toth, the world’s foremost expert on sirens. She’s a brilliant woman, with an absolute conviction that anyone who challenges the sea will get what’s coming to them. She also possess a fierceness that is both scary and inspiring. My other favourite character would probably be Hallie, a sign language interpreter abroad the vessel who has a chance to learn the first nonhuman language.
Although it was those characters perspectives that spoke to me the most, I still enjoyed other perspectives from side and main characters alike. Mira Grant is exceptional at characterization. The fact that there are so many interesting characters abroad this vessel, all with wildly different professions and backgrounds is what made this book incredibly interesting to me.
The atmosphere of this story is exceptionally tense and eerie, and my reading experience thrived of off it. As this voyage sails to the edge of the map, into our oceans most uncharted waters to answer the greatest mystery of our maritime age, things start to go so very wrong, so very quickly. And as the sun crept down inch by dreadful inch, I was on the edge of my seat wondering who would come away unscathed and alive, or stolen by the monsters lurking in the deep?
I’ve read this story twice now and it still doesn’t fail to raise goosebumps. This book has also kindled a new love for nautical horror. This is Mira Grant at her absolute best; intricate character work, world-building and plot. I highly recommend to readers who like expeditions stories, yet don’t mind a more slow burn thriller.
What are your favourite horror books? Have you read this book or any other books by Mira Grant?