Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

Into the Drowning Deep takes The Little Mermaid and strips it of any sugary sweetness while ripping into the mermaid fairy tale and leaving its bloody corpse on the examining table.

Mermaids were trending in teen fiction for a bit, but Mira Grant’s brutal, science fiction-horror version of mermaids is not for little kids or the faint-hearted.

The story is set seven years after a ship’s crew filming a mockumentary on mermaids all disappeared, supposedly attacked by mermaids in the Mariana Trench.  Some consider it a clever hoax.  Now, another crew that is better prepared with the best scientists, top-of-the-line research equipment, and safety precautions is going back to find out what really happened.  For some characters, the trip is a fun cruise and research opportunity, but, for some of the characters, this trip is personal and a chance for closure.  Tory Stewart’s sister was one of those who disappeared seven years ago.  For Dr. Jillian Toth, mermaids are her life’s work.

This story has quite a bit of bite, with high body count and plenty of blood to go with it.  Grant juggles a large cast of characters who come on the trip with different goals and varying world views, putting them on a boat they cannot get off.  Of course, people clash, but ideas clash, too, so there is constant debate on issues ranging from politics to diversity to morals.  The mermaids are the central mystery, and how they function is uncertain, but Grant develops some fascinating ideas that portray them as the apex predator of the waters.  There are thriller elements, as the characters, all specialists figuring out a small piece of the puzzle, race to understand the mermaids and survive.  The setting of the deep seas serves as an intriguing frontier that is both familiar and lurking with the unknown to set a story of scientific discovery and survival against.  The science fiction elements and speculative what-if’s are all the more horrifying for how likely they could be.

Look for Into the Drowning Deep in the VBPL catalog.  For more of Grant’s horror sci-fi, try her Newsflesh series (see review) and her Parasitology trilogy (see review).  For more mermaid tales, try Mermaids and Other Mysteries of the Deep short story collection and A Treasury of Mermaids:Mermaid Tales from Around the World.

Review by Tracy V.

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