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Book review: Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant (Seanan McGuire)

This is one of only two books that have actually scared me – so I'm going to study it.
Book review: Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant (Seanan McGuire)

I've only ever read two books that have scared me.

By "scared" I mean "hesitant to turn the page." Afraid of what I might find, and the image it might create, in my mind, and the way that image might make it difficult to focus my thoughts.

(To sleep, if you want to get specific about it.)

The first was William Goldman's The Princess Bride. The venomous spider hiding behind the door handle. The rest of the book was impossibly delightful, but that spider was plausible – and because of that, it gave me pause.

The second, nearly twenty years later, was Mira Grant's Into the Drowning Deep.

This book works, beautifully, in a number of ways. At its core, it's a Manor House Mystery – only the manor house is a cruise ship turned research vessel, and the guests (before they start dying, one by one) are the best-prepared researchers in their respective fields.

Tilt those fields, as a ship does, and it becomes a Science Thriller. Can humans outsmart both predators and pathogens, or will hubris (and/or the predators) consume us? Will the humans with the guns fare better than the humans with the computers? At what point will we stop thinking about how to justify our research funding (and/or our existence) and start thinking about how to save our lives?

But this story is classified as Horror, and not just because several of our favorite characters get slaughtered in logical (and scientific) ways.

This book scared me, the first time I read it, because it both presented and represented a legitimate threat.

Not a ghost. Not a rogue AI. Not even a mask-wearing axe murderer.

A new species (actually a very, very old species), deep within the Mariana Trench, that our species pulls out of the water on purpose.

Because we think we can control what happens after the interaction.

(Also, there's this one scene where a mermaid is hiding behind a door...)

(and yes, I did not sleep very well last night.)

The reason I re-read this book was – as you may already have guessed – the same reason any scientist does anything.

To study it.

To break it down into its component parts.

To steal from it, and publish what I learn.

(After all, I am about to embark on a cruise ship mystery of my own.)

More on that tomorrow.