I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
Series: Rolling in the Deep #1
Published by Orbit on November 14 2017
Genres: Adult, Horror
Format: Finished hardcover
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The nitty-gritty: A terrifying trip to the sea, where monsters lie in wait.
A couple of years ago I splurged and bought a small and beautiful book from Subterranean Press called Rolling in the Deep by Mira Grant. I adored it for it’s shocking violence and fascinating subject matter (mermaids!). Fast forward to 2017 and Mira Grant has written a sequel, of all things. Let’s just say I was surprised because of the way she wrapped up Rolling in the Deep: everyone on board the cruise ship Atargatis dies at the end. (And that’s not really a spoiler, so don’t worry!) To say I was curious about this book is an understatement. I couldn’t imagine where she would take the story next, and I have to say I wasn’t at all disappointed. Into the Drowning Deep takes place seven years after the fateful demise of the Atargatis, a ship that set sail into the Mariana Trench in order to make a mockumentary about mermaids. Unfortunately, they encountered the real thing, and those creatures turned out to be HUNGRY and not at all like the beautiful half-woman half-fish of mythology.
The great thing about this book is that you do not need to read Rolling in the Deep first. Grant does a great job of catching the reader up to speed by organically filling in the details. The year is 2022, seven years after the Atargatis disaster, when every person on board was killed by mysterious creatures of the deep (although their bodies were never found). The event remains a mystery, but due to some surviving video footage belonging to the company responsible for the trip, Imagine Entertainment, it’s clear that something terrible happened on the Atargatis. Now that some time has passed, the CEO of Imagine, James Golden, has decided to fund another trip in order to solve the mystery for good. James appoints his right-hand man Theodore Blackwell to gather together the brightest scientific minds of the time, as well as a top-notch camera crew, to set sail on the Melusine, a state-of-the-art ship that is designed to stand up to anything the ocean can throw at it.
Blackwell has no trouble getting eager young scientists to sign up for the trip, as a monumental discovery such as the existence of mermaids could propel them to fame and fortune. One of those scientists, a young graduate student named Tory Stewart, just happens to be the sister of Anne Stewart, one of the casualties of the Atargatis expedition. She agrees to join the team, hoping for some closure with her sister’s tragedy. Blackwell’s estranged wife Dr. Jillian Toth, a well-respected professor at UC Berkeley, also agrees to the trip, partly out of curiosity, but also in order to assuage the guilt she feels for being responsible for the ultimate fate of the Atargatis. Dr. Toth is currently the world’s foremost authority on mermaid studies, and Blackwell knows that her presence on the expedition will lend it authenticity.
In addition to a full crew, Blackwell makes sure that there will be plenty of security on board, including a husband and wife team who make their living hunting big game. The Melusine is also equipped with steel shutters which can be activated in the event of an attack. But once the Melusine arrives in the Mariana Trench, it isn’t long before they realize that no amount of security will be able to protect them. Because the mermaids are here, they’re real, and they are hungry.
There is so much to love about this story, and I had a blast reading it! It’s also very scary, and it’s got that classic horror movie feel to it where you know that people are going to be picked off one by one, but you don’t know exactly when it’s going to happen. Add in the fact that everyone is stuck on a boat in the middle of the ocean with very few places to hide, and you have some pulse-pounding excitement. I mostly read this at night in bed, and now that I’m finished, I have to say that wasn’t the wisest choice! Having met the “mermaids” in the first book, I knew what I was going to be in for, but that didn’t lessen the jump scare factor at all. If you’re a big fan of stories like Jaws, then you will love Into the Drowning Deep.
Grant gives us a huge cast of characters, and some readers are going to think there are too many of them. But I like the way she focuses on just four or five main characters and really digs into their personalities and backstories. Each one has a specific reason for wanting to join the Melusine crew, and some of those reasons are very personal and sentimental. Tory wants to find out what happened to her sister, Blackwell has been tasked with bringing back a live mermaid, and Judith is looking for a way to undo what happened on the Atargatis (although of course she realizes that’s impossible.) Twin deaf scientists named Heather and Holly arrive with their hearing sister Hallie, who also acts as their interpreter. Heather’s life long dream is to pilot her submersible into the Challenger Deep—the deepest known point in the ocean. Many of the characters are clearly there to die in horrible ways, but some of the smaller ones add a bit of levity to the seriousness of the mission. A couple of ship mechanics named Daryl and Gregory are really bit players, but Grant surprised me by keeping them around so they could help out at the end of the story.
Probably the biggest surprise character for me was a reporter named Olivia, who works for Imagine and was brought along as “eye candy” to be the on-camera reporter. But Olivia, who starts out as your typical vapid blond bombshell, turns out to be one of the bravest and smartest people on the ship.
Grant includes plenty of scientific details, which I loved. She’s clearly done a lot of research, and even though some of the science is actually “science fiction,” it all made sense to me. Truthfully, the ocean terrifies me, and reading about Heather trying to be the first human to make it to the bottom of the Challenger Deep had me on edge and barely able to tear my eyes away from the pages, even though I knew what was coming.
As for the mermaids, well, I don’t want to spoil too much, but I can’t finish this review without mentioning them. Grant describes them more as eels than humans, and yes, they have a mouthful of terrible teeth. They live deep below the surface in the Mariana Trench, but because food has become more and more scarce (a shout out to global warming), they come to the surface when the Melusine arrives, hunting for food, of course. If you’re hoping for the Disney version of a mermaid, well, you definitely won’t find it in this story.
The only negative for me was that the story does drag in places. Because this is a ship full of scientists, there are occasional info-dumps as the characters explain what’s happening. It was all very interesting, but it did affect the pacing in places. Often novellas seem too short, but in this case I enjoyed Rolling in the Deep more, simply because it was pure entertainment from start to finish.
Goodreads is calling this “Book #1” and Rolling in the Deep #0.5, which leads me to believe that there are more books to come. And after reading the ending, I’m sure that’s the case. Grant leaves a couple of big things unresolved, which makes me extremely happy, and very eager to find out what happens next.
Big thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy.