Of course, we all know there’s no such things as mermaids.  There are all kinds of scientific reasons why such creatures couldn’t possibly exist, and we all know how the first stories of mermaids began as stories from delusional sailors who mistook various kinds of sea creatures for women with fishtails. Movies like Splash and The Little Mermaid are just fantasies, and everybody knows that.

That’s the opening premise of Mira Grant’s new novel, Into the Drowning Deep. Of course there aren’t any such things as mermaids.  The crew of the ship Atargatis set out for the Mariana Trench to make a mockumentary about legendary sea creatures, and somehow the ship was lost at sea with all hands.There was some film footage recovered from the wreck which appeared to show something terrible happening to the crew, but there’s still controversy about that footage. Maybe it was just a hoax, a publicity stunt, faked.  But what if it was real?

Another ship is setting out, with a different crew.  Some of these people are true believers, convinced that there are really legendary sea creatures, including Kraken and mer-people, and they’re trying to validate their life’s work. Some are out for the thrill of the hunt, some are there to provide muscle/protection in case there really is something down there that’s dangerous. Some want to find out what actually happened to the Atargatis and its crew. Among the latter group is Victoria Stewart, an ambitious young scientist who wants to find out, once and for all, what happened to her sister, who went missing on that ill-fated ship.

Naturally, with a setup like that, you know there really is something terrible waiting for the crew of the new ship (named Melusine — yeah, the author knows what she’s doing here), and half the fun is waiting for the horrors to start, while the other half is enjoying the exciting story of survival against a terrible, unknowable threat.

I might note that Mira Grant is a pen name for Seanan McGuire, whose books, Every Heart a Doorway and Down Among the Sticks and Bones, were among my favorite fantasy novels of the past year, so you know you’re in very good hands when you dive into Into the Drowning Deep.


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