Nick Cutter’s ‘The Deep’ Preys Upon Our Darkest Nightmares
What would you do to save the world if you have nothing left to lose? This is the premise of Nick Cutter's latest novel, The Deep, a story that blends elements of science fiction, horror and psychological suspense to create a story that taps into readers' most terrifying nightmares and keeps them turning pages against their will.
The world is plagued by a disease that makes Alzheimer's look like child's play. It neither discriminates between old and young nor does it recognize national boundaries. Everyone seems to be falling prey to "the 'Gets," a bewildering illness that steals your memory completely.
Enter Luke Nelson, an affable veterinarian who is asked by the government to join his brother Clayton, a brilliant scientist, eight miles below the surface of the Pacific in the Mariana Trench. There, in a spider-shaped trillion dollar vessel called the Trieste, Clayton and two other scientists have sought to find a cure for the 'Gets after a strange substance called "ambrosia" is discovered that seems to have miraculous properties.
Yet this is where the horror really begins. First of all, Luke realizes he doesn't handle confined spaces well. One of the doctors has gone mad and another is dead. Then there are the inexplicable sounds, voices, and nightmares that terrify the crew.
With each chapter, Nick Cutter ratchets up the intensity of this story, inviting us into Luke's life, connecting us to his past trauma, and proving why his terror is all too palpable.
There was much about this story that I applaud. In Luke, Cutter has created a character readers will cheer for and empathize with. Each new insight into his past offers ample evidence of why this man deserves a break and more than a little luck.
Cutter also uses visual descriptions that seem to come alive in the mind's eye, from twisted scientific experiments to something as seemingly innocent as a child's toy box. Horror literally lurks around every corner, even in the most innocuous of places.
My only complaint about the whole book is that the ending tends to fall a bit flat, as it didn't really explain how certain mechanics of the story worked. In this regard, Cutter fails to maintain verisimilitude and expects readers to take too great a leap to bridge connections that are stretched a bit too thin.
Still, Cutter's second novel is otherwise brilliantly written. It is a book for fans of The Shining, for here in "the deep," nothing is as it seems and all of our nightmares can come true. Cutter proves that he is a master manipulator, and he merrily leads us down the garden path and into the very depths of hell.
Nick Cutter is one of the newest voices in horror fiction. Stephen King praised his previous novel, The Troop, as "old-school horror at its best." He lives in Canada. Like Nick on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.
By Nick Cutter
394 pp. Gallery Books. $26.
Want to know what inspires Nick Cutter? Check out his favorite three horror films of all time. Watch the video below.