Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
Seven years ago, the Atargatis set sail to the Mariana Trench to film a mockumentary on mermaids. But the mermaids found them. Now, Tory Stewart joins a scientific expedition to hunt down the mermaids and track down the last greatest mystery of the sea. Except some things aren’t meant to be found…because they’ve acquired a taste for human flesh. And they’re hungry.
I haven’t read many cli-fi stories before, but this was chilling and horrifying on so many levels that didn’t involve toothy, super-strength sirens. The sea levels are rising, storms and wildfires and nature is growing worse by the second, aquatic life is dying off and evaporating (not to mention all things that live on the land), the temperatures are getting hotter and the climate is growing wackier, all thanks to humanity. Life on Earth is practically hell, and while some people are racing around trying to save whatever they can, others are in it to bag and eat as many exotic things as they can. For the hell of it.
Anywho, I’m not a huge horror fan because I’m a weakling, and creepy things that creepily stalk through the night and can squeeze themselves into small overhead spaces, crawl up the sides of ships and ambush you in the night (or the day) make me want to pee myself. Also, going out to sea on a ship touted as one of the most advanced and safe and sooooo safe in all the land is just, um, asking for trouble? Particularly when the damn thing hasn’t even been finished being built, and the construction has been shepherded along by an Entertainment Company.
However, oddly enough, the horrors of the sirens were all in the pre-reveal.
Once the killing starts (this is not a spoiler—c’mon, you knew they were going to attack the minute the shutters failed to deploy), I was less scared and more concerned for our lead characters’ survival.
Because it is a big cast and holy shit my precious little babies.
Tory Stewart is the marine biologist and whale activist determined to find the mermaids and discover what happened to her sister. She’s the PR reason—the revenge story/sympathy play—the network is going for on this cruise, although her biological sonar is revolutionary and awesome. I loved her relationship with Luis and Olivia (not a triangle—Luis is her research partner and Olivia is the network reporter).
The Wilson sisters—Holly, Heather and Hallie—were just my absolute favorites. Okay, Heather and her Minnow were my absolute favorites, and the dive sequence was super duper scary, particularly if you’re not a fan of the dark, small spaces, being deep underwater and thinking about all of the millions of pounds of weight pressing on top of you, and things that live in the darkness. Holly was interesting too (and fucking hilarious), and I loved Hallie’s attempts to communicate with the mermaid and figure out a language they could understand. How deafness and ability and strength and communication ties into their three characters was delightful to read.
Gregory and Daniel were the contracted help, literally hanging over mermaid-infested waters to try to deploy the shutters. My heart pounded each time they were on screen, because they’re literally the average peoples just trying to do their jobs fixin’ shit while the scientists and security people are doing the high minded science and dying and killing things.
Ray the cameraman, who is so protective and supportive of Olivia and literally the best cameraman anyone could ever ask for. He always shoots her best angles, keeps the assholes away, gives the best advice, and protects without being patronizing or smothering. Literally man goals.
Jillian Toth, the sirenologist overwhelmed with guilt, since she knew there were mermaids, provided the fuel for the first adventure, and practically sent them off into the void wrapped in a bow for the mermaids to devour. She knew they were dangerous and apex predators, but still had to see them. To know without a doubt that she was right. And to atone. Her fucking fearlessness is holy shit goals.
Theo Blackwell is…well. He’s kind of a villain? He’s the dude who was a fierce whale advocate (whale warrior) who had to give up his life after a debilitating maritime injury, and whose morals and principles and ethics got lost when he was swept up into the world of the entertainment business. Yet he never loses his suave or his cool, despite being in enormous pain for half of the book. What can I say—I’m a sucker for blandly attractive, morally ambiguous men in well-cut suits.
However, I can’t ever forgive Theo for the dolphins.
Cecil, Twitter and Kearney are literal slaves, provided with the greatest Catch-22 of their lives—stay and die in captivity, or go and probably die searching for mermaids. But if they survive the adventure, they get to be free. I loved that each of the three dolphins got a segment, and they were all horrifying and disheartening, and holy shit do they all need to be freed from captivity. Free the dolphins, free the whales, free the primates. Stop making intelligent beings slaves for humanity’s entertainment.
And then we get to the Abneys.
Fuck the Abneys.
Anywho, I’m not a huge fan of mermaid books, mostly because so much of mermaid books are romantic and stupid and dumb, but this one was different.
This mermaid book has a lot of diversity in the cast! I loved that the scientists were so diverse and had so many different specialties and motivations. There is queer rep, deaf rep, disability rep, people of color, and also a hefty dose of environmental activism.
And scary as fuck mermaids.
Can’t forget those.