I really loved Nick Cutter’s THE TROOP, a horror novel about a boy scout troop visited by a man bearing a horrible parasite. The novel taught me how horrifying a single element can be–in this case, worms–if that element is used in different ways and is allowed to change into different variations. The characterization didn’t nail it for me, but I loved what is arguably the main, most compelling character–the infection itself.
Cutter’s next novel, THE DEEP, tells the story of a man journeying to a research station far under the ocean. His brother is researching a living substance that may have remarkable restorative powers, and may even give eternal life. This substance is particularly valuable as it’s seen as the cure for a global pandemic of a disease that makes people all memory.
Cutter’s narrative contains solid characterization, plenty of creeps and scares, and roars with horror. The underwater station is claustrophobic, foreboding. The evil that lurks there presents a mystery that frequently had me on edge and kept me turning pages.
By the end, however, I started to feel overstimulated. There is a sense of horror being kitchen sinked here, with so many elements, driven so hard, chapter after chapter, that it begins to lose its intended effect, at least for this reader. The pandemic relates only loosely to the station, the station becomes a horror show that doesn’t end, the two brothers and their history relate to the evil. It was all a bit much and begged credulity.
Cutter’s a fine writer with a keen sense of what’s scary, so I’ll be reading his next novel, but THE DEEP, while given an A for effort and an A+ for many individual elements, didn’t come together for me in the end.