Title: The Deep
By: Alma Katsu
Published: March 10th, 2020
By: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Genre: Adult | Horror | Historical-Fiction | Mystery
Buy it: Book Depository
From the acclaimed and award-winning author of The Hunger comes an eerie, psychological twist on one of the world’s most renowned tragedies, the sinking of the Titanic and the ill-fated sail of its sister ship, the Britannic.
Someone, or something, is haunting the ship. That is the only way to explain the series of misfortunes that have plagued the passengers of the Titanic from the moment they set sail. The Titanic’s passengers expected to enjoy an experience befitting the much-heralded ship’s maiden voyage, but instead, amid mysterious disappearances and sudden deaths, find themselves in an eerie, unsettling twilight zone. While some of the guests and crew shrug off strange occurrences, several–including maid Annie Hebbley, guest Mark Fletcher, and millionaires Madeleine Astor and Benjamin Guggenheim–are convinced there’s something more sinister going on. And then disaster strikes.
Years later, Annie, having survived that fateful night, has attempted to put her life back together by going to work as a nurse on the sixth sailing of the Britannic, newly refitted as a hospital ship to support British forces fighting World War I. When she happens across an unconscious Mark, now a soldier, she is at first thrilled and relieved to learn that he too survived the tragic night four years earlier. But soon his presence awakens deep-buried feelings and secrets, forcing her to reckon with the demons of her past–as they both discover that the terror may not yet be over.
Featuring an ensemble cast of characters and effortlessly combining the supernatural with the height of historical disaster, The Deep is an exploration of love and destiny, desire and innocence, and, above all, a quest to understand how our choices can lead us inexorably toward our doom.
| Goodreads |
“We are all, men and women, creatures of desires both good and bad. But everything has a price, and the price of indulging in that which is bad for us is often guilt; and too much guilt results in a sickness of the mind. We have poisoned our conscience, and something poisoned will need treatment one day—or it will rot.”
This is a very cleverly created and very well-thought-out book, I really enjoyed it and I very much appreciate the author’s work, because it shows that she has dedicated a lot to this book, nothing is left to chance and each little story that we follow is connected somehow to a whole that contains suspense, mystery and breathtaking moments. Even so, and this is a personal apprehension, it was difficult for me to get used to the writing style due to its complexity and slow pace, and that’s why every time I pick it up to return to my reading, it took me a while to become committed to the story. Still, it’s atmospheric and has a moving storyline with an incredible variety of characters.
The Deep is told in two timelines, one taking place in 1912 where we focused on mysterious and disturbing events taking place on board the Titanic, where we followed a group of super-diverse passengers from young millionaires, recognized figures to poor passengers of lower resources, scammers and thieves. And the other timeline runs through 1916 aboard the Britannic, the Titanic’s sister ship, which is used as a hospital for war-wounded, and here we follow one of the main characters named Annie, one of the survivors of the Titanic tragedy, who tries to fight her own demons while caring for these patients.
From the beginning, I want to say that I feel that this book will not be for everyone, it has a very unique complexity that I’ve never come across before, which makes it difficult to follow at times and even the writing style is quite dense. I found more formal dialogues at times and that can make your experience reading the book slow. That being said, I personally enjoyed it very much, I did notice everything I mentioned above, but it wasn’t a huge impediment to my enjoyment because I was really hooked on what was happening, especially with the impact the paranormal aspect has on the plot.
At the beginning it was a little difficult for me to follow because there are A LOT of characters and they’re all very different and they have very different pasts, and we explored them all in a superficial way maybe, going deeper into some stories, but at the beginning, it obviously takes a while to get used to SO many characters. Once you get to know them more, it’s easier to recognize each voice and each perspective, and you even manage to understand their behavior. I really liked how the author takes us on an absolutely uncertain path where we don’t know what will happen, but she plays a lot with the psychological, so there comes a time when you don’t trust anyone and everything seems suspicious and I adored that. I was reading the book and enjoying its mystery and suspense, but I didn’t expect it to have its moments of horror, I don’t know why I hadn’t seen that it was classified as horror, and I must say that although it doesn’t have many horror moments and such things, plays a lot with the atmosphere and creates a very cool feeling of discomfort, there are also, of course, a couple of pretty creepy scenes that made me goosebumps. I wasn’t expecting them, and it was like WOW. Overall, I enjoyed my experience reading it.
The writing style, as I mentioned briefly, is quite slow to read and very complex, but it’s also very atmospheric which I adore. Once you get used to it, it’s very bearable and you enter a state where you cannot and don’t want to stop reading because things get darker and darker. It really is very unique, and I would love to read something more from the author. Above all, I recommend that you read this book in winter or in another season, but at night, because it will have a much more impressive and atmospheric effect.
We all know the Titanic tragedy and I suppose that several of you already know about the Britannic, if not, I invite you to look for it, I myself had to do a little research, and I found it even more compelling in many aspects. And well, since this is based on a real tragedy, then you know what will happen, it’s not a surprise, but even so, it has its impact, it never ceases to sadden and shock me all that happened during the Titanic and all those people who passed away, it’s a story that never ceases to impact, right? But this time, in addition, to obviously all that, the author decided to take a supernatural turn and give her own touch in this way. The paranormal aspect doesn’t change the events, but it does change the characters and plays a lot with their minds, especially in that desperate moment.
“Sometimes, when our feelings for the dead are very, very strong, it keeps them tied to us. It prevents them from moving on to the next world.”
I’ll speak VERY briefly about the characters because they’re many and we’ll be here forever. When we just started reading we met Annie Hebbley, she worked as a maid on the Titanic and four years later she embarked herself on the Britannic because a friend, Violet, sent her a letter. She at that time was in a mental hospital because there are things about her past that she didn’t want to face, and obviously, many of the tragedy remained with her. I confess that I never really liked Annie, but after the final revelation I understood many of her behaviors and decisions, and once we know more about her past you know how truly heartbreaking was. I think her image for most of the book is super creepy, at least for me, because she behaves like a whole psycho, and that scares me. Then we have Mark & Caroline Fletcher who are a wealthy married couple who have just had a son and are on board the Titanic, and after reading the entire book I think they’re the true main characters, their personal stories and their dark past comes to light during the trip and things get worse when Annie starts to get into this relationship and then many secrets come to light and gives more meaning to everything that happens onboard the ship. I think Caroline’s a very interesting character to follow. Then we have characters that impact the story but in a lesser way, on the millionaire side we have Madeleine Astor, who’s a young pregnant woman who is escaping with her husband from the rumors about their marriage and the difference in age, and she thinks that she has been cursed by her husband’s ex-wife, she’s very superstitious. William Stead is a journalist, I think lol, and also has an ability to contact the dead, so he’s a central point of the plot too and I really like this character, he has a very noble outcome. Lucy Duff-Gordon who’s a famous designer who owns several textile factories, and this woman is very interesting, her life is linked in some way with the Fletchers’ and that makes her important in the story because it allows us to know more information about the past. & Then, on the other hand, we have the poorest side with the boxers Dai and Les, who are charming and everyone admires them when they make presentations and things cause they are very beautiful, but they’re swindlers and for me, they lead a great romance that I really enjoyed, and at the, In the end, they almost made me cry, I felt what was happening between them immediately. & I think that’s it, there are many more characters, but they don’t have such an impact to mention them.
I want to warn that in case you’re a person sensitive to bloody content and death, then be cautious because there’s a lot of that in this book, especially quite strong, shocking and crudely described scenes & something that I think you’ll appreciate knowing is that we have a little diversity in addition to different ethnic groups, we also have gay characters. Plus, another thing I wanted to mention is that romance is a central point, but I cannot give too much info because everything is known after the great revelation.
I have been thinking about that ending for a while, on the one hand, I think it’s ideal because, once again, the weight falls on that it’s a real story, so it’s okay to leave it open, but on the other hand, I wanted a little more, you know? I finished wishing that it had a more marked closure. Even so, I ended up enjoying the plot twist a lot because I wasn’t expecting it, I was going down a much more “logical” path and it ended up surprising myself in a good way. It’s amazing and it certainly leaves you thinking and analyzing again all that happened because it makes more sense once you know the ending. I really liked it, it’s cruel but at the same time charming and heartbreaking. I like that we can see the outcome of each character at least briefly, they all have their role and that’s fine. I enjoyed more of the 1912 line with the Titanic, but the 1916 side with the Britannic has its own weight because it shows us a lot of cruelty due to the war and that’s quite crude.
So, to finish, I really enjoyed the book, it’s a captivating and moving story, and although it follows a real tragedy, the author has been able to give it its own original touch. It’s slow and dense at times, and it also gives us information that in the end isn’t useful but leaving that aside, is a very solid and well-thought-out book, you can tell that the author didn’t leave anything to chance and is quite satisfactory when you think about the whole story. The suspense, the mystery, and the tension scenes are protagonists and you don’t stop feeling physically involved in the plot, it’s also super atmospheric and creepy which I love. So I hope you decide to give it a chance, so if you can get past the writing style that can be too much at times and you come to appreciate it, I’m sure you loved the book and I really think it’s worth reading.