Book Review: Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

Posted October 17, 2019 by Maire in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Book cover for Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant. A bloody arm falls through dark water behind the title text.
Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

I like well-written horror and Into the Drowning Deep is a great example. I started this book on Audio, narrated by Christine Lakin, and finished on eBook. The audio performance is great, but I read faster than I can listen. Remember those Disney read-along records from the 70’s? I wish they’d bundle the eBook with the Audio for folks like me who wind up buying both.

The ocean is home to many myths, but some are deadly…

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 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.

The story thus far:

Into the Drowning Deep is actually a sequel of sorts. The Atargatis set sail to the Mariana Trench on a mermaid-hunting expedition for an Imagine Network mockumentary. The Discovery Channel airs similar shows during Shark week. Think Megalodon or, more accurately, Mermaids: The Body Found. The point of the trip isn’t to necessarily find actual mermaids. Imagine hires actresses and brings them along just in case. They can flesh out the costuming with CGI in post-production if necessary. The point of the expedition is to bring a sense of authenticity to the project.

The result is very authentic: The Atargatis disappears, lost at sea. All that remains is some tantalizing and mysterious footage.

Grant’s novella, Rolling in the Deep, tells the details of that adventure. If you can find it, that is. I went looking for it when I realized I wasn’t reading the first in a series (because we already know how I feel about that). It looks like you can’t buy the novella in Canada. It’s not available on Amazon.ca and Rakuten/Kobo’s Canadian sites. However, Grant built the backstory into Drowning Deep just in case you, like me, missed the novella.

Into the Drowning Deep: 7 Years Later

August 2002: The MacKenzie River Ferry stops to take on new passengers
The MacKenzie River Ferry stops to take on new passengers

Tory Stewart’s older sister was aboard the Atargatis as Imagine Network’s on-air reporter when it went down. Now grown, Tory splits her time between her studies in marine communication and working as a tour boat pilot on the California coast. When the Imagine Network presents her and lab partner Luis Martines with a space on the research ship Melusine, she sees it as a chance to not only get ahead in her field, but to find out what actually happened to her sister.

Melusine is going back into the deep waters of the Mariana Trench, this time to find out what happened to the Atargatis, and come back with live specimens of whatever they might find.

The Setup: Crossing the i’s and dotting the t’s.

The view from the MacKenzie River Ferry in June 2002: A buoy is the only sign of life between ship and shore.
A lonely buoy on the MacKenzie River, August 2002

The expedition isn’t taking chances this time around. The Melusine is a floating fortress, complete with emergency shutters to keep out anything that might approach from the outside. There’s a fully trained security staff, and two big-game hunters are tagging along, looking for the chance to bag a genuine myth.

Imagine aren’t just taking a few scientists, either. They’ve agreed to fund one of the largest studies possible on the Trench, and have brought the scientists to back it up. There are redundancies upon redundancies to ensure the science stands up to challenge. Jillian Toth, the marine biologist whose theories sent the Atargatis into the Trench, heads the team.

Unfortunately, the security detail is big on looks but undertrained. The big-game hunters are a couple of cocky gun-nuts. The steel shutters protecting the boat aren’t working as intended. Surprise! Welcome to your floating clusterfuck!

My thoughts on Into the Drowning Deep:

August 2002: By the shore of the vast MacKenzie River, Northwest Territories
The shore of the vast MacKenzie River, Northwest Territories

Mira Grant (aka fantasy author Seanan McGuire) does an effortless job of setting up each of the chess pieces forming the story. Her prose is direct and to-the-point, with just the right amount of exposition to give you what you need.

The story works well as a study in contrast. On the one hand, the passengers face the vast, dark openness of the ocean, and the horrors that lurk beneath. On the other, the microcosm of the ship and its tight corridors shut them in. Fast-paced action ties everything together.

The only drawback I found was the ending. It came too soon and stopped just a little too abruptly for my tastes. With the incredibly taut pacing of the chapters leading up to the book’s climax, we needed a slightly longer denouement.

Perhaps we’ll get that in an upcoming novel? Here’s hoping that’s the case!

4 Stars

TL;DR A fun horror story about a ship that goes off the edge of the map into the zone labeled "here be dragons".

Into the Drowning Deep (Rolling in the Deep, #1) by Mira Grant
Narrator: Christine Lakin
Published by Orbit
Genres: Horror, Fantasy, Thriller
Pages: 448
Format: eBook, Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Amazon | Kobo | Audible

This post contains an affiliate link (to Amazon) you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

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