Rolling in the Deep by Mira Grant
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
When the Imagine Network commissioned a documentary on mermaids, to be filmed from the cruise ship Atargatis, they expected what they had always received before: an assortment of eyewitness reports that proved nothing, some footage that proved even less, and the kind of ratings that only came from peddling imaginary creatures to the masses.
They didn’t expect actual mermaids. They certainly didn’t expect those mermaids to have teeth.
This is the story of the Atargatis, lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a maritime tragedy. Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the bathypelagic zone in the Mariana Trench…and the depths are very good at keeping secrets.
Okay, let’s just go ahead and get it over with. You know, that thing that popped into your head as soon as you saw this title. That thing that won’t get out of your head until you give in to it. Don’t play coy with me. You know exactly what I’m talking about. And you know what you have to do.
Got that out of your system? Good, me too.
Now, onto the review.
“We may never know how much of the footage from the SS Atargatis was faked, or how much of it was real. What we do know is that none of the scientists, crewmen, or actors who set sail with the Atargatis were aboard when the ship was found, adrift, some six weeks later, and none of them have resurfaced since.”
Welcome to the tale of the SS Atargatis and her doomed crew. This novella chronicles their voyage to the Marianna Trench, where – you guessed it – they’re searching for the source of the mermaid myth.
Their journey is part sensationalized documentary in the making, and part research expedition, so there’s quite a cast of characters on board. You have scientists, interns, TV personalities, crew members, and professional performers all rubbing elbows.
The tale is told in an interleaving fashion, weaving the perspectives of those who perished with a TV special that aired after it was clear that something very bad happened to them.
“The official record says that all hands were lost at sea. We believe that something far worse occurred. We believe that they were found.”
Me, from that point on:
For a novella, Grant did a wonderful job adding tension. She also has a way of making you care about these characters in a short amount of time, which is damn inconvenient since you know up front that they’re all going to die.
I don’t want to give too much else away, so I’ll just say that this little horror story is spooky, riveting, well-written, well-researched, and unputdownable.
I devoured it in one sitting.