THE DEEP by Alma Katsu (Book Review)
Someone, or something, is haunting the Titanic.
This is the only way to explain the series of misfortunes that have plagued the passengers of the ship from the moment they set sail: mysterious disappearances, sudden deaths. Now suspended in an eerie, unsettling twilight zone during the four days of the liner’s illustrious maiden voyage, a number of the passengers – including millionaires Madeleine Astor and Benjamin Guggenheim, the maid Annie Hebbley and Mark Fletcher – are convinced that something sinister is going on . . . And then, as the world knows, disaster strikes.
Years later and the world is at war. And a survivor of that fateful night, Annie, is working as a nurse on the sixth voyage of the Titanic’s sister ship, the Britannic, now refitted as a hospital ship. Plagued by the demons of her doomed first and near fatal journey across the Atlantic, Annie comes across an unconscious soldier she recognises while doing her rounds. It is the young man Mark. And she is convinced that he did not – could not – have survived the sinking of the Titanic . . .
Last year I read Alma Katsu’s THE HUNGER and really enjoyed its unique mix of history and horror. It’s a breath of fresh air from what I usually read in the horror genre. Similar to The Hunger, THE DEEP covers an ensemble of characters before/during/and after a major catastrophe. This time around, the story follows various passengers and crew aboard the Titanic. There’s characters both real and imagined, ranging from the famous newspaperman/occultist WT Stead to a pair of amorous Scottish boxers. Sometimes all of the characters can get overwhelming, but I think Katsu handled them with more finesse here than in The Hunger. I think part of it has to do with the compelling narrative style.
The Deep is a “mixed media” novel. A collection of letters, flyers, and third-person accounts that bring to mind FRANKENSTEIN on so many levels. For the vast majority of the novel, Katsu leaves the reader in suspense as to which party is responsible for the occult incidents on the Titanic. It kept me reading to the very end, which is high praise from a habitual book-dropper like me.