Title: Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
Publication date: 14 November 2017
Genre: Horror | Adult
Page extent: 440 pages
Rating: FIVE / FIVE GLORIOUSLY SPOOKY STARS 👻👻👻👻👻
Goodreads blurb: 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.
Well I’m never getting on a boat again. Continuing my dive (hahaha) into horror, which started with Wilder Girls, I picked up Into the Drowning Deep after seeing it recommended on Twitter. And holy smokes, this book is goddamn incredible and I am now officially a fan of horror. Cue immediate reserving of several titles at the library. Into the Drowning Deep is a psychological horror set in a world where mermaids exist. Except, instead of the ‘lovely ladies of the sea’ we expect to find based on all our myths, we find creatures who want to eat our faces.
7 years before the start of the novel, the Atargatis set off to film a mockumentary about the existence of mermaids. Instead, they were devoured alive. Now, Imagine, the entertainment company who had arranged the mockumentary 7 years ago, are launching a new mission to fix their reputation. They will prove that the mermaids are not a hoax, by capturing one and bringing it back to land. Accompanied by an army of scientists driven to either find the mermaids and make the discovery of a lifetime, or just to study parts of the uncharted ocean, the Melusine sets off on its mission.
From the very first page of the novel, there is SO MUCH tension. I was immediately enthralled from the very first page. Short extracts of interviews, talks, videos appear at the start of each ‘section’, and these really add to the sense of tension and fear. They add brilliant insights into the mermaids, as well as hint at some of the terrible things about to happen. Another tension enducing technique I adored was the way Grant would compare the mermaids to very specific animals, the second before something awful happens. There is a split second of realisation for both the characters, and the reader, as you realise oh shit yes that’s what the mermaids are doing, and then immediately the shit happens. It was so terrifying and so amazing, my stomach was like a rollercoaster. It was just SO INTENSE. I cannot express how incredible it was to be swept on this ride.
I loved the hugely scientific focus of the book. It was so detailed and made everything so much more ‘real’ by adding the science element – and by real I mean, I could imagine this all happening in real life. One of the things I love most about scarier stories is making it as realistic and believable as possible. It’s why I really love stories about viruses/pandemics, because they are so believable. And that believability really does add to the sense of fear! I feel like Into the Drowning Deep really had that believability, in part because there was such a scientific focus. I loved all the descriptions of the different scientists and their work, and loved that many of these different characters got focus. There are lots of POVs, but it works! There is such a diverse range of characters and I love that they all got to feature so heavily. Whilst there are main characters, the side characters POV still add a unique and interesting take to the story, sometimes having some of the scariest POVs in the book.
Our ‘main’ crew can be narrowed down to:
Victoria (Tory) Stewart: bisexual icon, sister of Anne, one of the people who died on the previous mission, and who has got NO TIME for her foolish asshole scientist ex who also happens to be on the boat (Jason, he’s a total ass, I shall mention him no further).
Dr Jillian Toth, half-Hawaiian world-leading expert on mermaids, who has dedicated her entire life to studying mermaids and who feels deeply guilty that her research led to the massacre on the previous Atargatis expedition (Jillian is probably my favourite character because she just has her shit together so much, and I just absolutely hung off every word she uttered).
Olivia: autistic, lesbian TV personality from Imagine who is documenting the events on board the ship.
Theo Blackwell: physically disabled, representing the Imagine management on board, and Jillain’s ex-husband – and probably the one character I’ll say I wish we’d had more character development from. He’s definitely not a good character (as in “morally good”), and I wanted to find out more about his motives.
These four are joined by a host of others, including three sisters, Holly (chemical data analysist, deaf twin) and Heather (also deaf, twin to Holly, and underwater explorer, HOW COOL IS THAT?!), and Hallie (sign langauge extraordinaire); Luis, crytozoologist and Victoria’s lab partner and funder; Michi and Jacques, gun loving monster hunters. Honestly, this cast list is just amazing. Every single one is so damn unique and different, and every POV felt really different. Whilst the four main characters get more page time, I loved that we still got to read from the smaller characters POV. Their short POV sections were excellent and added so much to the book and the tension.
On top of all this awesomeness, it all features a f/f relationship (though this is definitely not the focus of the book). We get to watch the romance bloom – and there was a part of the book, right near the end, where something happens, and I’m just like NO NO NO this can’t happen, because SHE will be causing it AND JUST I need someone to talk to about this book.
Finally, Into the Drowning Deep goes into some really deep discussions on the commercialisation of science, our treatment of species we consider “other”, and the impact humanity has on the world around us, which I thought were all handed brilliantly and really shows how terrible the human race can be.
All in all, I loved this book! My first adult horror, I really wasn’t sure what to expect and I certainly didn’t expect to love it as much as I did (because I’m a visual media horror wimp). But everything about this book was fantastic, the plot, the science, the characters, the prose. It all added up to a superbly terrifying and intense novel, and I can’t recommend it enough!
After this book, I am now so exicted to expand my reading into the horror genre! So, since I’m such a newby, do you have any horror recs? Let me know!
Rach + Draco