Review: Into the Drowning Deep (Rolling in the Deep #1) by Mira Grant


Seven years ago, the Atargatis set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a “mockumentary” bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legend. It was lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a maritime tragedy.

Now, a new crew has been assembled. But this time they’re not out to entertain. Some seek to validate their life’s work. Some seek the greatest hunt of all. Some seek the truth. But for the ambitious young scientist Victoria Stewart this is a voyage to uncover the fate of the sister she lost.

Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the waves. But the secrets of the deep come with a price.

RATING: ☆★☆★☆

I would like to preface my review by stating outright: I fucking loved this book.

My feelings for this book are still very much on that point on the spectrum of awe where wonder becomes dread, or dread turns into wonder. I read this at night because as it turns out, I like suffering (but with a nice soundtrack). There are too many stories of mermaids sitting on rocks in sexy poses braiding their hair and not enough of them luring men to their deaths and I’m glad this book is propagating the latter.

So, what’s this book about?

In 2015, The Atargatis—a research vessel headed to the Mariana Trench on a scientific expedition supervised by Imagine, an entertainment company known for its horror movies, to look for mermaids—sailed off the map, leaving in its wake a murky narrative and a gruesome footage that bespoke a new and unsettling certainty: the so-called lovely ladies of the sea exist, and they are out for slaughter. Seven years later, Imagine Entertainment sends another ship—The Melusine—to set sail for answers, a desperate ploy they hope will secure the company a legacy that is built on more than mediocre science fiction movies and rumors of a massive maritime hoax.

Hired to accompany the Melusine into uncharted waters, are a bunch of scientists who—unperturbed by the fact that the vanishing of The Atargatis does rather minimize the bounds of chance—spoke of their adventure ahead with its unguessable horizons with the fervor of untested warriors who had nothing to lose, nothing to gain, nothing they desired anymore, except to make their lives into a work of art.

  • Victoria “Tory” Stewart is a bisexual graduate student studying acoustic marine biology and the grieving sister of a member of The Atargatis crew whose heart had always been fixed to avenging the death of her sister like a compass point, and who is hoping that this voyage would spell an end to any hope, however remote, of her sister returning home and finally grant her closure.
  • Olivia Sanderson—autistic lesbian geek goddess and Imagine Entertainment news personality—who has come to a point with her ambition where she could either give it up or give up everything else, and has chosen the latter.
  • Dr. Jillian Toth—a marine biologist and a siren expert—whose burden of guilt and shame would not permit her to accept the fatality of a mission that was born out of her own research and studies, without at least going herself to face the flesh-ripping monsters of the watery deeps.
  • Theodore Blackwell—the physically disabled representative of Imagine Entertainment and estranged husband of Dr. Toth—to whom The Atargatis’s fate wasn’t the kind of truths you could trade and walk away from, not when his boss’s reputation hinges entirely on his ability to secure this mission’s success.
  • Deaf identical twins Heather and Holly Wilson, one of whom is an organic chemist and the other the owner of a deep-water submersible who had channeled all her yearning into an impossible dream: finding the bottom of Challenger Deep.

I would have personally thought The Atargatis’s fate rather an object lesson in proving that some things are better left undisturbed, unknown, and forgotten but to this motley crew and everyone else on board, death was a pale phantom of the exquisite vastness of pleasure that is the privilege of trading temporary mortal life for the greatest benefit of science. To them, this mission was their destiny come at last to retrieve them.

The inclusive diversity is only one of this book’s many strengths. Into The Drowning Deep packs a winning formula, by frightening, enthralling, disturbing and intriguing the readers all at once. Eerie and disorientating, spine-chilling but imbued with gallows humor, this terror tale spills realistic, likable characters tumbling towards a future filled with uncertainty and doom where they have no home but the unforgiven sea and no people but each other, and raises many questions that are cognitively taxing to swallow.

In spite of the horror movie flicker that mingles with the atmosphere, this is an energetic book that starts at high velocity and never lets up. The plot races along, but never leaves the reader behind. Time slips away unmarked, making it one of those “just one more chapter” experiences. There is so much emotion rushing under the skin of every moment. The parenthetical asides give such greater poignancy at all the right times, making you pay attention to everything you read and ramping up small moments into a real bang. I was antsy and uncertain throughout, a pendulum swinging between fear and dread, as if I was feeling the same weight of hungry eyes on me and the sense of having to be wary as the characters. I was also ever walking a knife-edge between adoration and animus when it came to the characters but they were all so fleshed-out and real that I still felt the pinch of pain in my stomach at every loss (and trust me, there are many.)

Although this book is low on romance—the characters are far more preoccupied courting trouble with the deadly creatures of the watery deeps than with each other—there’s a f/f romance blossoming between Tory and Olivia and it’s so wholesome it made my heart sing! Also, seeing Dr. Jill and Theo goad each other into new lows was fun to read and I’m kind of rooting for them to gather the tatters of their broken marriage into a semblance of a relationship, maybe.

Trying to read this book at night right before bed was definitely poor decision-making on my part but this is the kind of story that hooks you from word one and never lets go, not that I wanted it to anyway. I also spent an unhealthy amount of time reading up on mermaids and watching documentaries with my mind pushing at the limits of understanding to encompass the concept of all the worlds layered like pages that exist in a section of the sea that many have labeled “Here Are Unknown Monsters”.

And boy am I glad to exist on dry land.

5 thoughts on “Review: Into the Drowning Deep (Rolling in the Deep #1) by Mira Grant

  1. THIS IS SUCH A GOOD REVIEW EM love everything you said and i love the last line and i love that you bumped it to a five wow you’re suddenly more valid than ever


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