The Deep by Nick Cutter

A fatal new disease is sweeping the globe.  Referred to as the ‘Gets, it affects your memory – you initially forget small things, like where you left your keys, the odd word, things that have happened to us all at some point.  Then you get forget more fundamental things – how to drive, your partner’s name.  Then your body forgets how to live.

But now a possible cure has been found, deep underwater in the Mariana Trench.  Referred to as ambrosia, this substance could be a miracle cure, not just for the ‘Gets, but for other diseases as well.  In order to study this potential panacea and to understand its effects, a small team of scientists is sent to a newly built lab – the Trieste – eight miles below sea level.  But then contact is lost with the team, and so another team has to be sent down to discover what has happened to them…

The novel opens as veterinarian Luke is travelling to Guam – the point closest to the underwater lab.  His brother, Clayton, is one of the scientists studying ambrosia, and so Luke is being sent down to the Trieste to discover why communications have stopped, and whether ambrosia is the miracle cure that it appears to be.

The first section of the book gives us the background to the disease – how it was first noticed and identified, how it materialises and the impact that it’s had on society, which by and large seems to have coped relatively well, making the necessary adjustments, but keeping civilisation going:

If this was the apocalypse, it was to be an orderly and complacent one.

The novel isn’t meant to be post-apocalyptic in nature, but it has obvious connotations with that genre.  I thought that this background detail was handled really well; it doesn’t detract from the main storyline, but gives enough information that you feel like you understand how society has coped with the onslaught of the ‘Gets.

The tension is built up right from the start of the novel, and this gradually increases, enhanced by the claustrophobic effects of working so far below sea level, with all that water pressing down on you…  Part psychological terror, part gore-fest, this is an extremely unsettling novel, and there were times when I had to put it to one side, mainly when I was alone in the house.  I couldn’t put it down for long though – this is a compelling narrative, and I had to find out what happened next, despite the discomfort.

I don’t read a lot of horror novels – I tend to find them unsatisfying, but I really enjoyed The Deep.  And the ending was perfect.  I won’t say any more on this, as I don’t want to spoil it for anyone else, but it’s just perfect.

Many thanks to the publisher, Headline Publishing Group, for supplying a copy for review via Bookbridgr.

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