In 2015, Imagine Entertainment sent a ship filled with media personalities, scientists, and crew to discover whether or not mermaids exist. No one truly expected for the made-for-TV voyage to be successful, but when the ship turned up weeks after being lost at sea with horrifying video and no bodies, it was obvious they had found something out there.

Seven years after her sister was lost aboard the Atargatis, Tory joins a second expedition to the Mariana Trench. Imagine Entertainment hopes to revitalize their tarnished reputation with a new documentary and prove once and for all that mermaids are real. Tory doesn’t care about what Imagine Entertainment wants. She needs to know exactly what happened to her sister, and thanks to her field of study, she will get a chance to find out.

Fairy tales and horror have always had a hefty overlap, but in Into the Drowning Deep, Mira Grant turns mermaid folklore into an action-packed thriller. From the very start, there is no question of whether or not mermaids exist, but rather what exactly will happen when our characters encounter them. These mermaids aren’t exactly Ariel, so the answer to that question will not be a happy one.

Our characters, however, are not as worried for their lives as we are. Tory, for one, has studied the sounds of the ocean and plans to use her scientific research to track down the mermaids. She knows they can mimic sounds and she’ll use that information to find their location–regardless of what happens when she does. Olivia, Imagine Entertainment’s host for the documentary, is more focused on doing her job and making amends with Tory than worrying about whether mermaids are real, and the three Wilson sisters are just excited to be working in their respective fields aboard the ship.   

The only scientist truly prepared to meet the mermaids is Dr. Jillian Toth. On joining this voyage, she is well aware that she might not survive, but she doesn’t care. She made it her life’s work to prove that mermaids are real and she will finally see it through–even if it means working with a corporation she doesn’t trust.

Into the Drowning Deep starts with the attack on the Atargatis and doesn’t let up until the final pages. While it’s not so much scary as exciting, Grant’s novel shares DNA with books like Jurassic Park and Meg. It deftly manages to balance characters and carnage, and if you’re into the idea of murderous mermaids, Into the Drowning Deep will very much appeal to you.   

Don’t forget: Here there be monsters and unto the scale. . .

Not offensive to women = 1/1 pt

While there are a few male characters who disrespect Tory and the other female characters of the book, Into the Drowning Deep isn’t offensive toward women in and of itself. The characters are not described in off-putting ways and they are all well-rounded and dynamic characters.   

Love horror? Zombies and steampunk collide in Alex Acks’ Wireless. Read our review.

Features a woman as the main protagonist and/or supporting character = 2/2 pts

Into the Drowning Deep is told from multiple perspectives but easily over seventy-five percent of those are women. Tory, Jillian Toth, the Wilson sisters, and Olivia are all co-protagonists of sorts and have much more self-determination than any of the male characters.

Passes the Bechdel test = 2/3 pts

With so many women talking to each other about science, the novel easily passes the Bechdel test. It also passes the similar test for LGBT.

Artistic and/or Entertaining = 4/4 pts

There’s no question that Into the Drowning Deep is entertaining. It has that breathless pacing that will keep you from wanting to put it down and enough monster-related tension to keep you from getting bored waiting for the next attack. Compared to other books of its ilk, it also has a higher level of artistic ability. Mira Grant is an excellent writer, and while I wouldn’t call this great literature, it makes a fantastic horror novel.

Get your fantasy fix with these short story collections.

Above and Beyond General Media = 4/5 pts

In Into the Drowning Deep, Mira Grant does something very interesting: She focuses her story on women, LGBT, and people with disabilities. It’s rare in this sort of action-packed fiction to have these types of characters in the forefront, and it’s very refreshing. The character of Olivia is especially a breath of fresh air. It is nearly unheard of to have an autistic character who is both not a savant and a woman, and it’s a shock that, on a ship filled with scientists, the autistic character is a geek media personality rather than a scientist herself. In addition to having this stereotype-breaking autistic character, there are two Deaf characters and another with chronic pain and a limp. These characters and those who are LGBT came off surprisingly well in the midst of all the bloody attacks. It is a shame that that is still surprising, but at least, Into the Drowning Deep can be called a win in these categories. Unfortunately, it should be noted that there are people of color in this novel, but they aren’t quite as in the forefront as these other groups.  

Overall 13/15 on the scale.

The number thirteen in a Venus symbol

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