Review: ‘The Deep’ Nick Cutter

A plague is destroying the world’s population. The ‘Gets makes people forget. First it’s the small things, like where you left your keys…then the not-so-small things, like how to drive. And finally your body forgets how to live.

But now an unknown substance with extraordinary power to heal has been discovered in the depths of the Pacific Ocean. Nicknamed ambrosia, it might just be the miracle cure the world has been praying for.

A research lab has been established eight miles below the sea’s surface, but all contact with the team has been lost. Dr Luke Nelson’s brother is down there and as desperation for a cure outweighs common sense, he agrees to descend through the lightless fathoms…perhaps to face an evil blacker than anything he could have imagined.

Now, I love walking along sun-soaked beaches, relishing the cool kiss of the ocean as small, foam-capped waves wash onto the shore and over my bare feet. But that’s about as deep into the ocean as I like to go. Like a lot of people, I have thalassophobia, which is a fear of deep, dark bodies of water, such as oceans. Hell, there’s a canal running behind my neighbourhood and there’s a very specific stretch of it that I despise walking past, simply because the shadow of the overhead bridge makes the water an inky, ominous black. When I walk under that bridge, I literally break out in gooseflesh if I so much as glance at the water. I start imagining all the things that might be lurking beneath its surface and what would happen if I slipped and fell in and felt a cold, dead hand wrap around my ankle, dragging m- Ahem. Sorry. Back to the ocean. The deepest depths of the ocean are mostly unexplored and the creatures that live there can often seem as alien as anything we might find elsewhere in the universe. I mean, this guy…

…what the fuck is this guy? Yeah, yeah, I know he’s a giant ass squid, but he has haunted me since I first saw this video. I initially wrote ‘..but he has quite literally haunted me’, but I thought that was maybe a bit much. Yeah, I shudder when I think about him, but I don’t wake up to find him floating over my bed, tickling my face with his spaghettiesque tentacles. In summary, I find the ocean terrifying, so when everyone in a horror group I’m a member of on Facebook was talking about Nick Cutter’s The Troop, I found myself more intrigued by his book The Deep. It’s not very often I find a horror book centred around something that I’m truly scared of, but The Deep is a rare exception.

I’ll preface this review (yep, I’m finally getting to it) by saying that this isn’t a book for those who have an aversion to body horror. There’s a fair bit in The Deep, but despite my own aversion to it, I absolutely loved this book. As well as having thalassophobia, I also have claustrophobia, so a book set on a cramped research station eight miles under the ocean sounded like my own personal horror novel heaven. Moreover, The Deep‘s protagonist Luke finds himself trapped in the research station. Horror novels and movies that are set in a single, small location from which the characters can’t escape are some of the best in my opinion. It’s fascinating seeing how a book or movie’s cast of characters react to such a situation. The Deep‘s characters are on either ends of the spectrum in terms of how they react to the horror gradually working its way into the research station and, ultimately, their minds. Luke desperately tries to escape, his cold, apathetic brother Clayton remains entirely consumed by his research and other characters just seemingly give in, letting the entity tear them apart mind, body and soul. While reading The Deep, I often found myself wondering how I would act if I found myself in such a hopeless situation. Would I fight tooth and nail to see the sunlight again, or would I just quietly accept my fate? I like to imagine that it’d be the former, but I honestly don’t know. How much can a person endure until they crumble under the weight of the horror and pain that they’re being subjected to? I guess that’s a question a lot of horror writers ask themselves when penning their latest story.

My only quibble with The Deep was the ‘Gets. I felt it could have been expanded upon more. It was very much just a plot device to get people to the bottom of the ocean. That’s just my personal opinion, though. It didn’t in anyway diminish my enjoyment of the book. The book ended on something of cliff-hanger, so I’m hoping there might one day be a sequel. Saying that, though, sometimes it’s good to let readers decide for themselves what happens after they turn that final page. For me, it’s a way of making sure that a book stays with its readers for a long time to come. What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

Want to read The Deep? Head on over to Hive, Bookshop or World of Books to order your copy, or buy it through your local bookstore.

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