THE DEEP by Alma Katsu


From the publisher:

From the acclaimed and award-winning author of The Hunger comes an eerie, psychological twist on one of the world’s most renowned tragedies, the sinking of the Titanic and the ill-fated sail of its sister ship, the Britannic.

Someone, or something, is haunting the ship. Between mysterious disappearances and sudden deaths, the guests of the Titanic have found themselves suspended in an eerie, unsettling twilight zone from the moment they set sail. Several of them, including maid Annie Hebley, guest Mark Fletcher, and millionaires Madeleine Astor and Benjamin Guggenheim, are convinced there’s something sinister–almost otherwordly–afoot. But before they can locate the source of the danger, as the world knows, disaster strikes.

Years later, Annie, having survived that fateful night, has attempted to put her life back together. Working as a nurse on the sixth voyage of the Titanic‘s sister ship, the Britannic, newly refitted as a hospital ship, she happens across an unconscious Mark, now a soldier fighting in World War I. At first, Annie is thrilled and relieved to learn that he too survived the sinking, but soon, Mark’s presence awakens deep-buried feelings and secrets, forcing her to reckon with the demons of her past–as they both discover that the terror may not yet be over.

Brilliantly combining the supernatural with the height of historical disaster, The Deep is an exploration of love and destiny, desire and innocence, and, above all, a quest to understand how our choices can lead us inexorably toward our doom.

Alma Katsu has written a truly unique novel incorporating an eerie twist to the very well known story of the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. In 1916 at the height of World War one the ocean liner Britannic was sunk according to accounts by two German submarines. The Britannic coincidentally was a sister ship to the Titanic and had been turned into a hospital ship for the duration of the war. The novel moves from one point to the other effortlessly as the story unfolds.

The action swings back and forth between 1912 and 1916 and uses two protagonists to tell the story. Annie Hebbley is a young girl that has left her home in Ireland due to the horrific conditions she was suffering there. She manages to luckily get a job on the Titanic as a room steward serving twelve of the first-class cabins on the ship. Among the passengers she serves are John Jacob Astor and Benjamin Guggenheim, well known multimillionaires of the day.

The second individual playing an important role in the book is Mark Fletcher, an American returning home with his new British wife and their baby. From the sailing date, both passengers and crew shrug off odd happenings including the sudden death of a young boy sailing as caretaker to one of the millionaire’s dogs. The chairman of the White Star Line owners of the Titanic is aboard and hastens to assure everyone that the ship is unsinkable. People should not worry and just enjoy the luxury of the cruise bound for New York.

The story finds Annie in a mental institution four years after the Titanic tragedy unable to cope with the horror she has undergone. She is released by her doctor and reluctantly manages to obtain a job as a nurse on the Britannic finding an aptitude she doesn’t know she has to do the work. In inspecting the wounded men under her care, she comes upon Mark Fletcher. While on the Titanic she had met Mark, who was a passenger in one of the cabins she attended. She had developed a crush on him and in a wild moment has a one night stand. Her feelings come out and her imaginings lead her into thinking that Mark was in love with her and this feeling just has to be rekindled.

Katsu changes the actual destruction of the Britannic from sinking by submarines to something else based on the love Annie thinks she can rekindle with Mark. The novel is absolutely compelling, grabbing the reader and bringing him or her into another era and a possible link into the macabre. I certainly hope that Alma Katsu comes out with her next book soon and indicate my recommendation to pick it up as soon as published to enjoy.

3/2020 Paul Lane

THE DEEP by Alma Katsu. G.P. Putnam’s Sons (March 10, 2020). ISBN: 978-0525537908. 432p.



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