The Deep by Nick Cutter
Published by Gallery Books
Publication date: January 13th 2015
Genres: Fiction, Horror, Suspense
There is a virulent disease striking the world. One that robs its victims of their ability to remember. And not just mentally but physically—to the point where they no longer know to eat or how to eat, to walk, to blink, to sleep. We are left like wind-up dolls unwound in Nick Cutter’s new novel The Deep. This is a frightening premise but it is not the crux of this novel. Instead, it’s about a small research lab built at the bottom of the Mariana Trench—the deepest spot in the ocean—where three men are investigating a substance that seems to have godlike properties of rejuvenation and could be the cure for this terrible disease.
“Universal healer? It would seem so. Imagine a drug that cures everything and anything. Whitewashes all the sickness in your body, fixing you completely.”
One of these men has sent a message to the floating city above it that he needs his brother to come down right away. This is how Luke, who hasn’t spoken to his brother in decades, finds himself heading 6 miles straight down through the ocean to see his brother and hopefully, help him in his endeavor to save the world. In true horror fashion what he finds, once isolated in this pitch dark, cold, constricted world has nothing to do with salvation.
I am not a horror story reader but Cutter’s first novel The Troop was good enough that I decided to give his second novel a try. Cutter has no qualms about using every device found in the horror writer’s toolbox beginning with the familiar and comforting aspects of childhood darkly blended with the stuff we’d rather forget, like the basement that was always too dark and had odd movements at the edge of your sight line. There is the psychological terror and fear of a mother-from-hell who continues to haunt into adulthood and the infamous ice cream man—because really, isn’t that a creepy occupation for a grown man? Cutter layers these with the terrors and questions Luke finds at the bottom of the ocean, namely, is the ambrosia as elusive as we think or is it as interested in us as we are in it?
In less skilled hands The Deep would drown in all the oozing, shimmering, gelatinous muck that makes up the ambrosia but Cutter deftly builds the tension internally and externally, flipping between the grotesque games in Luke’s mind to the gruesome discoveries he finds throughout the research labs.
Another chunk broke off the crumbling landmass of his psyche, drifting into the dark.
Even as I knew I did not want to know what happened next I could not stop reading. The terror ebbs and flows just enough to let the mind relax, as Luke’s does, before it strikes again. There is no relief to be found in Cutter’s world far below the ocean’s surface. All that is left is to wonder what will rise to the top.