Monday, March 2, 2020

Review: The Deep by Alma Katsu

The Deep
The Deep by Alma Katsu
G.P. Putnam's Sons
Publication Date: March 10th, 2020
Hardcover. 320 pages

About The Deep:

"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 . . ."

The Deep is filled with components I love--it's set on a ship, there are hauntings, and it takes place during an interesting historical setting--and yet I still (even after having read it months ago) have some of the most conflicting feelings about this book. I really wanted to love it more than I did, and as much as I enjoyed many scenes and elements, I also found myself bored with a lot of this story and I had a really difficult time connecting to some of the characters.

I read and enjoyed Alma Katsu's The Hunger last year and despite occasionally feeling like there was too much going on, I had a great time with it and therefore was really excited to see what The Deep would bring. I loved the Titanic and Britannica overlapping storylines that helped to set the background and overall atmosphere of the story and how Katsu managed to develop the plot in such a way that things were crafted together overall in a very careful manner. I also really appreciated how much historical fact and inspiration went into creating this story, as it really created a vibrant backdrop for the events of this story and a certain level of authenticity that made it feel real.

One of my biggest issues--or perhaps disappointments?--was that this book wasn't half as spooky as it had been made to seem. The synopsis and cover made this book seem like the haunting components would play a big role in the story, and although they were importance and manifested in various ways, I never found myself feeling particularly spooked or thinking that this book was about a haunted ship. Something about the descriptions and the way the 'hauntings' were incorporated just felt lackluster and never really hit home for me. I can't tell if it's just me that has this problem or if others will also see the issues, but it was definitely a bit of a letdown.

The other main reason I couldn't fully get into this book was due to the characters. There are two main timelines, both of which feature Annie Hebbley as the main character (who is actually based off of a real woman), though we also get the POV of a few different characters as well. I think of my favorite POVs was of the boxer Leslie Williams, as I felt I connected most with his character and I found his entire storyline and personality the most compelling.

Katsu' pacing is definitely on the slower side in The Deep and I think that really made it more difficult for me to get into the story and maintain my interest. The Deep has a fairly strong start, but near the last third/quarter or so of the story is when I really started losing interest. A lot of this is because of my issues with the characters and their personalities, as mentioned above, and some of this is also simply because it started to just feel a bit messy near the end and I didn't really feel connected to anything that was happening.

The Deep didn't quite live up to what I'd hoped, but it still makes for a fun and extremely worthwhile read if you're interesting in the premise, topic, or historical period--overall, I've given it 3.5 stars!

*I received a copy of The Deep courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating of the novel.*


  1. I've been so curious about this! I have to admit I was kind of leaning in to the spooky atmospheric possibilities, so I'm a little disappointed to hear that maybe that wasn't the strongest part of the story. And the characters sound a little disappointing as well. Still, I like the historic elements. I might get this from the library at some point.

    Great review!

  2. I've been seeing this one around and honestly had no idea what it was about. But now knowing it's kind of a retelling of the Titanic disaster - that really peaks my interest! I think the issues you had with it were similar to the ones I had with The Hunger, but I still might give this one a try!

  3. I need to go snag a copy of this!!