Book Review: Into the Drowning Deep, Mira Grant

Book Review: Into the Drowning Deep, Mira Grant

Fantasy/Horror: Into the Drowning Deep, Mira Grant

A few years ago I read the novella Rolling in the Deep by Mira Grant. It was one of the most frightening books I have ever read. I seldom read horror. My imagination tends to feed nightmares when I do. Rolling in the Deep, though, was a true science fiction horror, along the lines of the movie Alien: mermaids (more accurately, sirens) attack and literally everyone dies. Every. Single. Character.

 

So, obviously, a sequel was needed. And, admittedly less obviously, I had to read it.

 

I don’t mean to sound snarky. A sequel was needed, because the first book was that good. That’s also why I had to read it. Mira Grant, a pen name for author Seanan McGuire, is a brilliant writer under either name. Under her own name she usually writes urban fantasy. Mira Grant is more of the science fiction/horror genre. Under either name, though, you can expect excellent writing, gripping plots, fantastic character development, and someone dying. Often, a lot of someones.

 

Into the Drowning Deep tells the tale of the follow up mission to that ill-fated voyage. The company that funded the first is a television network that wants to prove the existence of sirens. They have pulled together a team of marine biologists, oceanographers, cryptozoologists, and various other disciplines. They have also brought some big-game hunters and armed security guards, and obviously some on-air talent and videographers. Among the scientists is Victoria “Tory” Stewart, the sister of Anne Stewart, a victim of the first mission.

 

Tory is hoping to gain some understanding as to how and why her sister died. Part of what Grant does so well is explore the motivations behind different characters. Some are straightforward: a Ph.D., tenure, fame, recognition, wealth. Others are more complex: validation, understanding, purpose. By the end, though, they all have one common motivation: survival. Because the sirens are coming, and they like the taste of human flesh.

 

Into the Drowning Deep may do a better job than any fiction book I have ever read at giving voice and empowerment to characters with different abilities. Two of the scientists are deaf. The on-air talent is on the autism spectrum. The man representing the network has a severe back and leg injury. Every one of these characters brings talent, intelligence, and courage to the fight against the sirens. That is not to say their challenges make things easy: one of the deaf scientists is killed, and another is left alone in a room because she cannot hear the alarms. The injured representative is stuck in a chair when he cannot access his medicine, and only timely access to THC-laced chocolates keeps him from incapacitation. But these characters are on the ship because of their talents and abilities, and those talents and abilities become more valuable as the ship is under siege.

 

If you are easily freaked out, do not read this book. If you cannot stand blood and gore, don’t get it. But if you are fascinated by the thought of encountering a different intelligence, one that has been part of human mythology worldwide, one that has neither love nor hatred toward us but rather one that thinks we are rather tasty, the Mira Grant has the perfect novel for you. Creative, bold, creepy, and really, really good.

 

I’m sure I’ll be able to sleep again. Someday.

Book Review: Into the Drowning Deep, Mira Grant

Book Review: Kingdom of Needle and Bone, Mira Grant

Book Review: Kingdom of Needle and Bone, Mira Grant

Kingdom of Needle and Bone

Science Fiction: Kingdom of Needle and Bone, Mira Grant

Morris Disease was named after the first victim, little Lisa Morris, age 8. A variant of measles, Morris Disease is highly contagious, often fatal, and has the additional terrible feature of resetting the body’s immune system. Anyone who catches Morris Disease, even if they survive the initial infection, no longer has immunity against any previous disease they have caught or been immunized against. Humanity faces perhaps its worst pandemic: a disease that either kills you or opens the door for something else to do the job.

 

Dr. Isabella Gauley, pediatrician and aunt to Lisa Morris, is devastated by her loss. She wants to change the world, provide a place where children will never again be cursed by virulent diseases. In the novella, Kingdom of Needle and Bone, we read of her efforts to create an island sanctuary, one where children can grow up safely, without fear of Morris Disease, or measles or whooping cough or any of the other illnesses that have been humanity’s constant companions throughout history.

 

Sometimes the greatest monsters are the smallest. Viruses and bacteria may not hide behind doors and jump out at the unwary, but when people intentionally fail to vaccinate their children these monsters are far more deadly than those with fangs and claws. Mira Grant (a pseudonym for author Seanan McGuire) often writes of a post-pandemic earth. Notably in her Newsflesh series, Grant examines the potential effects on the world of an illness that crashes the population and continues to wreak havoc for years after. (That illness resulted in zombies, so this is not quite the same scenario as we saw there.)

 

Mira Grant books tend to walk on the horror side of the sci-fi/fantasy genre. I will confess, I spent much of the time during my reading of this novella waiting for the other shoe to drop. I do not want to give away any spoilers, but I will say that this is not just a nice little story about survivors of a pandemic creating a new world for themselves. Kingdom of Needle and Bone is a Mira Grant book, and monsters are waiting for the unwary reader.

 

This is a short book and an easy read, but be forewarned: the effects of the illness on a child are described in detail. This may not be the best choice for a bedtime story for your little ones, unless they are hoping to grow up and become virologists. It is a well crafted story, though, in both plot and characters. It is also one that provokes thought. Kingdom of Needle and Bone may only have a little over 100 pages, but it probes deeply into questions of medical ethics, wealth and privilege, and how decisions about the future of the species should be made.

Kingdom of Needle and Bone

Book Review: Kingdom of Needle and Bone, Mira Grant