MEC Reviews: Into the Drowning Deep – Mira Grant

As long as there was life in the sea, there would be teeth

Mira Grant, Into the Drowning Deep

A funny thing happened on the way to the Mariana Trench …

Seven years ago, Imagine Entertainment sent a group of scientists and filmmakers in search of mermaids for their next blockbuster monster mockumentary series. When the Atargatis is found adrift with no sign of the crew or passengers, conspiracy theories exploded – especially after leaked “found-footage” of a whole-scale slaughter – some people insisted it was part of a ratings ploy, others insisted was real proof of the existence of mermaids and others, those in the know, remained silent. Now the network is mounting a second expedition. What could possibly go wrong?

Into the Drowning Deep is a great horror story that draws you in quickly with the mystery of what happened to the Atargatis. Ms Grant spends the first part of the book building an ensemble cast of characters who are equally intriguing and engaging so that once they set out on the Mesuline, you are invested in them and their mission. Don’t get too attached though. The characters are nerdy and diverse – both in their backgrounds and in their motives – with a remarkably strong cast of strong, smart and kick ass women.

The mermaids, who are decidedly more Ursula than Ariel, are a wonderfully grotesque, intelligent and hungry. Oh so hungry. Ms. Grant paces her reveals of the mermaids – snapshots and glimpses that become even more horrifying as the story progresses. There’s a great level of tension and suspense that slowly ratchets up until the turning point where you know that the Mesuline and all onboard is well and truly f***ed.

This is definitely a science driven horror – especially with a literal boatload of PhDs from every imaginable oceanic related discipline along for the ride. Set a few years in the future (written in 2017 and set in 2022) Ms Grant takes a few liberties to improve technology and medical science – but it is all plausible and reasonable with a level of detail provided that is just enough for a layperson to understand and appreciate. Ms Grant deftly introduces and explores ecological, ethical and moral elements seamlessly as part of the larger story – elevating it from a straightforward monster/slasher story to something that gives a bit more introspection and some food for thought. Don’t worry – there’s still lots of blood.

I’ve enjoyed the Wayward Children series (written under Seanan McGuire) and there’s a similar sly humour, beautiful prose and really dark imagination within this book. Dark imagination is a bit of understatement – the horror elements are wonderfully crafted with a balanced build of suspense, terror and all out gore. There were more than a few moments where I actually closed my eyes because I didn’t want to read what was coming next – and when I opened them again and read on, I cringed and kept going. She got me hook, line and sinker and I devoured this over a two day period.

The Atargatis had found the mermaids because the people on the ship were made of meat, and the mermaids had empty stomachs that they wanted to fill. That was how you found things, in the sea. Be delicious. That was all you ever had to do.

Mira Grant, Into the Drowning Deep

Definitely Recommended

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