Someone, or something, is haunting the Titanic.
Deaths and disappearances have plagued the vast liner from the moment she began her maiden voyage on 10 April 1912. Four days later, caught in what feels like an eerie, unsettling twilight zone, some passengers – including millionaire Madeleine Astor and maid Annie Hebbley – are convinced that something sinister is afoot. And then disaster strikes.
Four years later and the world is at war. Having survived that fateful night, Annie is now a nurse on board the Titanic’s sister ship, the Britannic, now refitted as a hospital ship. And she is about to realise that those demons from her past and the terrors of that doomed voyage have not finished with her yet . . .
Bringing together Faustian pacts, the occult, tales of sirens and selkies with themes of guilt and revenge, desire and destiny, The Deep offers a thrilling, tantalizing twist on one of the world’s most famous tragedies.
Hi and welcome to my review of The Deep!
The Deep alternates between two storylines: one on board the Titanic in 1912, the other on board the Titanic’s sister ship Britannica, refitted as a hospital ship, in 1916. The Deep is the story of a stewardess on the Titanic, who falls head over heels, and rather inexplicably it would seem, for one of her passengers. It’s the story of a man with a bit of sordid past, trying to move past it by starting a new life in America with a new wife. It’s the story of a terrified and superstitious pregnant girl married to a filthy rich man who’s much too old for her. It’s a story of a con artist and the man he loves, even more than money. And it’s the story of a woman who survived the sinking of the Titanic only to still feel likes she’s drowning four years later while working as a nurse on the Britannica.
The Deep is the first novel by Alma Katsu I’ve read, although one of her previous novels, The Hunger, has been on my list for ages. As such, I went in with few expectations, simply because I had no clue what to expect, and I suspect it’s the lack of expectations that made me enjoy this novel as much as I have. I looked at some early reviews on NetGalley and going in with the wrong expectations seems to be a general theme with readers of The Deep. I can see how it may seem something it isn’t, giving you the wrong expectations, so I’m just going to go into a little more detail, because I can see how it could be a very disappointing read if you were expecting it to be something it isn’t.
Knowing that The Hunger is categorised as horror, I thought that The Deep might be horroresque as well. It’s not. As I have very eclectic tastes and was not particularly craving horror when I picked up The Deep, I didn’t care that there was little horror to be had, but if you’re thinking of picking this one up because you’re looking to be thrilled, chilled and shocked throughout, think again. Now, this doesn’t mean that there isn’t any paranormal activity, there is, but it stays in the shadows for the longest time. Whisperings, murmurs, seances, events and reactions that don’t quite add up, a subtle drumming from the sideline. If anything, this is a slow-burning ghost story, the full extent of which only becomes apparent in the final fifty pages or so. This didn’t bother me at all, I enjoyed the lingering sense of threat and dread in the sea air, and I didn’t mind waiting for things to come to a head, but I can imagine die-hard horror fanatics may be a little put off, and for me it never got even remotely scary.
Some readers picked up The Deep because it’s historical fiction set on the legendary Titanic. Of course it’s historical fiction, and of course it’s set, at least in part, on the Titanic, but the ship and its history are not characters in this novel. The ship is used to set the scenes, to create an atmosphere, a backdrop for its passengers, the main characters of The Deep. The same goes for the storyline on board the Titanic’s sister ship, Britannic. So if you’re expecting this to be a more or less detailed historical account of one or both ships, that’s not what this is. However, I do feel I’ve learned a thing or two, Ms Katsu has clearly done her homework and the history is there, woven delicately into the fictional story, just how I like it.
So, yeah, there is a whole lot going on in The Deep, it’s multifaceted and it can’t be crammed into one single genre box. There are perhaps a few too many subplots and side storylines muddying the waters, I wouldn’t have minded if it was a little shorter, just a tad snappier. However, I loved Alma Katsu’s writing and reading The Deep convinced me to get The Hunger off my list and into my hands ASAP, so I’ve finally bought a copy.
If you like your fiction with a bit of a paranormal angle and a historical background, then do check out The Deep!
The Deep is out next week, the eBook is out on 3 March and the hardback and audiobook are out on 5 March.
Many thanks to Bantam Press and NetGalley for the eARC. All opinions are my own.