Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Book Review: Into the Drowning Deep

Title: Into the Drowning Deep
Author: Mira Grant
Genre: Horror, thriller
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

You'd never know that Mira Grant is the psydonym for Seanan McGuire if you only went by writing samples. Grant's books are scientifically based, horrific thrillers that keep you on edge for most of the book. Into the Drowning Deep is no exception to the rule. Right from the very two things are very clear: 

  • Mermaids are real.
  • They are not friendly like Ariel...

I found the overall plot unique in that the mermaids are monsters (I don't think I've ever encountered this idea before) and yet a bit standard in that it follows the typical monster book timeline. Monsters appear, not everyone is convinced, people investigate, monsters appear, etc. In the case of this book there was really o other way to handle the discovery of mermaids and so it was a good choice for a classic timeline to be used. I think Grant chose well to have a classic monster plot with a very unclassical (is that a word?) monster. 

Few authors are very good at ensuring their timelines and timing between events makes sense. Michael Crichton was someone who had a really good handle on this. How long does it take to walk an area, shoot a gun, travel to the ocean, etc. And for all the scientific information in Into the Drowning Deep the thing that bothered me the most was that each chapter indicated the date (day, year) and location we were at. Which is all well and good when it's relevant. But for most of this book it is not relevant. What would have been far more helpful is the time on that day of that year given how many events happen close together. 
I'd have to go back and map out the timeline to be sure but I believe that at one time a character mentions a time and then a few chapters later a different character mentions the time and it's in the past (even though it is clearly  supposed to be linear). Maybe I'm picky but this kind of thing really bugs me and gets in the way of my enjoyment of the ongoing story. I start thinking too hard about the continuity instead of enjoying the ride. This was my biggest annoyance in this book, and given how many authors break it (on a constant basis), it's actually a fairly mild complaint. 

Rollicking Ride
For someone, like me, whose standard genres do not include horror, and who has massive hydrophobia (fear of water); Into the Drowning Deep didn't even have to try that hard to scare me. But regardless of those two factors I think the average person would be both intrigued by our mermaids as well as horrified by them. 
Grant describes the biological water creatures in detail and has clearly thought about what makes it most intimidating or scary; as well as what makes it practical and scientifically plausible given it's habitat and evolution.

I'm no marine biologist or any of the other fancy scientists featured; in fact I'm not a scientist of any discipline, but I felt throughout the entire book like Grant had done her homework in regards to the plausible biology, environment and evolution of the mermaids. It reminded me a lot of Crichton. I'd be comfortable saying that enough research was done to make it all sound legit. And maybe it's not perfect but hey it's fictional (we hope!) mermaids after all! I'm not concerned about each individual trait being scientifically accurate so much as it all seeming to make sense and flow with the story being told. Grant certainly achieved this for me.

I really, really enjoyed this book. Into the Drowning Deep is easily a book that will stick with me and that I would happily recommend to anyone that wants a good horror/thriller story. 
My husband is a big horror fan and has read Grant before. I believe he is now very interested in reading this one based on my reactions to it. He even had to console me one night when I woke up thinking mermaids were after me! (Yes I am a bit of a wuss, but remember massively hydrophobic so this was a challenge from page 1 for me). 

Of all the things I'll say I'd like to say, I want to thank Mira Grant for giving me more reasons why the ocean is scary as hell and why I'll stay on land. I'd also like to thank Grant for taking a sweet, pretty, only sometimes a bit scary mythological creature and making it a true monster that could (and will) haunt nightmares. So be forewarned there is no Ariel, Princes or magical transformations in this story. You can be rest assured that happily ever after is (obviously) not in the cards. 

1 comment:

Leonore Winterer said...

Mermaids as monsters aren't that much of a new concept really...I think they never really were supposed to be friendly, drowning sailors and all, but the most contemporary reference that comes to mind for me is Pirates of the Caribbean 4. Still, I think I could get totally into this book, it does sounds awesome.

If you can handle some more scientific marine 'horror' (I think it's not actually meant to be horror, but was certainly horrifying at times), have you read 'The Swarm' by Frank Schaetzing?