Into the Drowning Deep: Character-Driven Expedition Towards an Unknown Danger

Into the Drowning Deep is about a scientific expedition to retrace a voyage that’d gone missing seven years prior. No one knows what really happened to the Atargatis, except that the ship was found with no one left alive. But that failed voyage left consequences–for a young scientist who wonders why her sister never came home, a professor who carries the guilt for making the last expedition possible, a company whose reputation was left in tatters after the fiasco.

These people and more assemble to solve the mystery of the Atargatis…but how many of them will survive the answer?

Hands reaching out towards a streak of blood in dark water. The text reads "Into the Drowning Deep, New York Times Bestselling Author Mira Grant."
Image: Orbit

There is absolutely no way I would go anywhere near a story where the premise is ‘killer mermaids’ if I didn’t already trust the author.

I rarely venture into the horror genre at all, though I make exceptions for character-driven adventures. And Mira Grant (a penname for Seanan McGuire, who writes probably my favorite urban fantasy series ever) knows how to write a powerful, emotional story.

The mermaid trend, up to this point, I’d avoided entirely–the last mermaid I’d encountered was Disney’s Ariel. I have no hesitation in breaking that streak for this story.

Immersive Atmosphere and Deep Characterization

From the beginning, the atmosphere is filled with this creeping sense of doom. Everyone from the reader to the characters know they’re heading towards something inevitable. I especially loved the sense of heading towards a mystery, not knowing what we’re going to find, with a plethora of characters all over the spectrum of belief in their mission.

Each glimpse we get of the passengers on the ship increases the tension, upping the stakes for what’s going to happen to these people. Being a scientist myself, I find it incredibly difficult to believe an entire ship full of scientists would be too caught up in a new discovery to care when one of their colleagues died, but other than that, the characters were fully realized and evocative.

Victoria, following her sister’s footsteps to find out why she died, is the closest to a main protagonist. But the novel fleshes out many of the characters who set sail on a journey they might never return from, and the author does a fantastic job of making them all leap off the page. Even the safety of minor characters mean something to the reader, because we know just enough about them to care.

There’s only so much I can do to describe what makes this novel special: the atmosphere and the tension that’s present from start to finish. The story is amazing because of how it’s written, and the only way to get that is to experience it. Which means it’s only sensible to end this post with a link to a few sample chapters.