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Want to be scared?

May 15, 2015

Nick Cutter’s previous book ‘The Troop’ “scared the hell” out of author Stephen King. And his second novel, ‘The Deep’ is also not for the faint-hearted.  It reminded me very much of King’s earlier work actually.

A plague has struck humankind. Known as “The ‘Gets”, it causes humans to forget things, usually over several years … beginning with small things like where you left your keys, and ending with forgetting how to eat and breathe.

challenger-deep-smallBut then a fishing trawler accidentally hauled up a lantern fish in the Mariana Trench.  Normally only capable of surviving at extreme depths, a marine biologist on board recognized the inconceivability of it being found, and was astonished to discover the reason was that a substance now named ambrosia had inhabited the fish.  Other scientists thought that ambrosia may be the cure to The ‘Gets, and an international project was instigated to develop an underwater station that could function at the bottom of Challenger Deep, the deepest part of the Mariana Trench, where the ambrosia was likely to be found.

Three scientists were selected to take up residence in that station, the Trieste, to experiment on the ambrosia. Some time later, communication with the station is lost and then the escape submarine surfaces, containing the badly scarred corpse of one of the scientists.    Unable to contact the other two, an emergency trip down is planned, with Dr Luke Nelson, the brother of one of the scientists. The authorities hope that he will be able to convince his brother to let them in, and find out what is going on.

When Luke, and sub pilot Alice arrive, they are alarmed to find both scientists acting very strangely.  One has locked himself in his lab, convinced everyone else has been infected by ambrosia, and the other (Luke’s brother) is intent on his experiments to the exclusion even of finding a cure.

It seems that this ambrosia is actually sentient, and possibly not of this world.  It has lain dormant 8 miles beneath the sea for a very long time, and there is an insinuation that the plague has been engineered to cause these events to unfold, allowing the substance to escape into the wider world.

As the story unfolds, the chills increase.  Much is left to your imagination, but the author does a very fine job of exacerbating childhood fears and building tension. There are a few gory sequences, but worse is the idea of what causes these events.  To me, it was reminiscent of Stephen King’s “It” although the ending was more satisfying.

If you like horrors, you’ll like this.

– Natalie


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