This review appeared in the August 2015 issue of the Diablo Gazette.
If there is one kind of monster story I enjoy more than any other, it is one with a good sea monster in it.
Rolling in the Deep, a recent novella from Mira Grant, has some excellent, and scary, sea monsters in it.
Published in early 2015, as a limited edition hardcover, but now available in convenient ebook formats, Rolling in the Deep is the terrifying story of the Atargatis and how it came to lose all hands at sea.
To do this, the network rents the pleasure cruiser Atargatis and sends a group of scientists, with film crew, out to the most isolated section of the Marinas Trench. There they will create a documentary about the scientists “searching” for real life mermaids.
Accompanying them are some professional mermaids, so an occasional glimpse or two of something “unnatural” swimming about in the open ocean is certain to be captured on film.
What no one expected them to discover was that mermaids are quite real. They also learn that mermaids are not the least bit friendly. They are ruthless and efficient predators, in fact. And terrifying.
Even though Grant (a pseudonym for Clayton based writer Seanan McGuire) lets the reader know from the start all aboard the Atargatis are missing and presumed dead. This knowledge does not lessen the tale’s ever tightening suspense, or lighten its ever heavier feelings of dread and doom.
The large cast of colorful characters almost seemed a bit too large for such a compact tale, at first. But Grant never lost her narrative focus. Each primary doomed character, and more than a few of the supporting ones, is given one or two moments to step forward and endear themselves to the reader.
She did such a wonderful job that, when the mermaids make their final, fatal assault on the Atargatis, it feels like people you know and like (well, save for one or two heavies) are meeting very undeserved bad ends.
At a mere 128 pages, Rolling in the Deep is fast, lean, and more than a little bit mean.
It is also the scariest creature feature the Syfy Channel will probably never make.