Two Horror Novellas that Make a Splash: The Salt Grows Heavy and Rolling in the Deep

3 May

The Salt Grows Heavy
by Cassandra Khaw

After reading the lush writing of Cassandra Khaw in their novella, Nothing But Blackened Teeth, which I previously blogged about after reading it with the Library’s Science Fiction an Fantasy Book Discussion Group last Halloween, I was curious to check out more of their work. I had the opportunity to read an early copy of the Salt Grows Heavy, provided by Netgalley and the publisher in order to provide an honest review. The book had the beautiful evocative language and graphic horror elements that I expected from Khaw’s previous work, but the story itself was a very unique feminist take on the Little Mermaid story. In this story a mermaid is captured and forced to marry a prince, who cuts out her tongue so she cannot speak. Her daughters though bring vengeance unto the kingdom with their insatiable appetites and the story begins with the Mermaid and an immortal Plague Doctor fleeing the ruins and encountering figures from the Doctor’s past. The story merges horror with a fairytale love story; it is a bit like the beautiful corpse flowers that attract flies instead of butterflies, so smell like rotting meat, managing to be both gorgeous and repulsive in equal measures. This novella would make a perfect read to curl up with during a summer thunderstorm.

Rolling in the Deep
by Mira Grant

Mira Grant is the pen name of Seanan McGuire, whose Incryptid series I had blogged about previously. McGuire’s works tend to be much more urban fantasy while the works she writes under Mira Grant tend to be darker and more horror oriented. Unlike the Incryptid series where a happy ending is likely to be found in every book, I knew that in Rolling in the Deep, no one was safe. I enjoyed listening to it as a digital audiobook that clocks in at just over three hours, so a perfect length for getting some weekend chores done. Teri Schnaubelt, who narrates, does a great job of building suspense and bringing the story to life. The novella uses the setup that it is telling the story of found footage, similar to the Blair Witch series of films, of the ship the Atargatis, which was filming a documentary about mermaids for the Imagine Network. There is a troupe of mermaid performers on board, but those on the expedition soon learn that the bathypelagic zone in the Mariana Trench may be home to something way more dangerous than the heroine of a fairy tale. We learn at the beginning that all hands were lost, but the story still had enough twists to keep me engaged and I especially liked the big reveal at the end. Although short, the characters featured are still compelling and diverse with one of the ship’s crew having a hearing impairment and a mermaid performer who uses a wheel chair when not in the water. Rolling in the Deep serves as the prequel for Grant’s novel, Into the Drowning Deep which is set seven years later when Victoria Stewart sets out with a new crew to learn what happened to her missing sister, Anne, who was a reporter for the Imagine Network.

Want more sirens? Come join us on Thursday, May 25 for this month’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Discussion where we will discuss Nghi Vo’s Siren Queen, a dark fantasy, about an actress who rises above her working-class background by portraying a monstrous mermaid on the Silver Screen.

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Information and Digital Services Manager

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