Happy long weekend, for those who live in a country that had a holiday! I spent the weekend doing some chores, running another Call of Cthulhu session, and writing – writing, writing, writing. I’ve written quite a few short stories (a few will be coming out in a couple weeks) and have also been working on a novella.
As it is Monday, I am here with another book review! This review does not contain spoilers.
Alma Katsu is a graduate of the John Hopkins Writing Program and Brandeis University. Before diving into writing full time, she worked in intelligence for several US agencies and a think-tank. She is still a consultant on merging technologies.
She is the author of The Hunger, The Taker, The Reckoning, The Descent, and The Deep. There is 100% a common naming convention for her novels, that’s for sure.
These novels share another theme: they combine horror/the supernatural with history.
From the acclaimed author of The Hunger comes an eerie, psychological twist on one of the world’s most renowned tragedies, the sinking of the Titanic, and the ill-fated sail of its sister ship, the Britannic. Someone, or some thing, is haunting the ship. That is the only way to explain the series of misfortunes that have plagued the passengers of the Titanic from the moment they set sail.
Years later, Annie, having survived that fateful night, works as a nurse on the sixth sail of the Britannic, which has been newly refitted as a hospital ship during the rise of World War One. Unable to shake the demons of the first voyage, Annie struggles for clarity when she happens across Mark, now a soldier, unconscious onboard. Unconvinced, and perhaps unwilling, to accept that he survived the crash, Annie reckons with the bargain that must have been made, and the risk of sacrifice for the one she loves. – from Katsu’s website
The Deep is a pretty ambitious novel that covers both the sinking of the Titanic and her sister ship, the Britannic. The cast of characters includes some fictional ones like Annie, the stewardess, as well as real people, like the Astors and the Duff-Gordons.
The tale is told in sections, one devoted to the past and one following Annie as she serves as a nurse on the Britannic (still the past but I guess, the less past?). As a stewardess on the Titanic, she gets involved with the Fletcher family and all their drama. It becomes quickly obvious that everyone is harbouring secrets and, when the body count begins to rise, that something supernatural is happening on the ship.
After surviving the Titanic, Annie spends some years at a sanitarium before deciding to work as a nurse on the Britannic. How convenient that she bumps into Mr. Fletcher, injured from the war and someone she has feelings for still. Well, the haunting isn’t finished yet.
I guess anyone who knows history kinda knows where the story ends up.
“A riveting, seductively menacing tale of love, loss, and betrayal set amid the glamour of the Titanic…” – Library Journal (starred)
“An impressive, horror-tinged trip back in time… a darkly captivating tale of haunting, possessions, secrets… painstakingly researched and meticulously plotted.” – Publishers Weekly
So, I love horror stories that revolve around the ocean, which is why I picked this book up. I was also curious how the author was going to twist the history of the Titanic to involve the supernatural.
Unfortunately, I found this story boring.
One main issue I had was that I feel like the author expected readers to automatically get invested in the characters because some of them were real people and it felt like she expected the reader to already know a lot about them. W. T. Stead is a prime example. She briefly refers to the scandal he experienced before his trip but never goes into depth about it. It’s more like an overview. I had no idea who this guy was, so I felt obligated to Google him. Honestly, I don’t want to have to do that when I just want to enjoy a book. But she ends his part of the story with, what I am assuming, is supposed to be some revelation or heartbreaking moment? Well, it was completely lost to me because I wasn’t a history buff.
I just felt like there was a prerequisite to truly enjoy this novel.
The plot also felt lacking. Again, I think it leaned heavily on the fact that it was assumed the reader would have knowledge about the Titanic and the Britannic enough to carry them through. It lacked a lot of tension and excitement for me. I honestly felt like I was reading a general overview rather than a novel.
Overall, a really disappointing experience.
x P.L. McMillan