Published by Samhain Publishing on 2nd September 2014
Genres: Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
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Laying eyes on It Waits Below on the Netgalley site, I had no idea it was written by THE Eric Red. “Who?” you may have just wondered. Well, none other than the screenwriter behind two of my favourite films from my teenage years, THE HITCHER (the 1986 one with Rutger Hauer not *shudder* the remake) and NEAR DARK (directed by Kathryn Bigelow). So I got fairly excited to learn he had made the transition from the silver screen to the written page.
Interestingly then, It Waits Below feels like it comes from the same era as those movies I mentioned above, since it was in the late ’80s that we had the proliferation of sci-fi/horror hybrid films dealing with deep sea diving and the threats found in those murky depths. Of all those films, this novel feels closest to LEVIATHAN in that the alien creature encountered does more than simply attack and eat its prey, instead taking over the host organism and changing it from the inside …
Into the alien’s adopted habitat come three characters, all of whom are reasonably well detailed, even if they fall into somewhat cliched territory. There’s the screw-the-rules captain, the hard-as-nails veteran pilot, and the gorgeous apprentice co-pilot who only got the gig because she has been getting it off with the captain. Up above on the ship monitoring the deep sea vessel’s progress, the captain’s far more conservative brother runs the operation, but soon has pirates and traitorous crew members to contend with.
Red’s novel reads like it could be a screenplay in the sense that most scenes lend themselves to being easily visualised, and there’s a clear three-act structure going on. The first act establishes the characters and the threats they are going to face, the second allows things to come unstuck (and includes at least one character demise I did not see coming so early), and the final act goes for the huge Hollywood spectacle of an ending – complete with scenes that played out like JAWS on stimulants.
I may have had a hard time really caring about anyone in It Waits Below, but I genuinely enjoyed the back half of this novel and the craziness it unleashes. If, like me, you’re a fan of those late ’80s films I alluded to, jump on this one will all haste. Red delivers a competent sci-fi/horror/thriller hybrid that is more fun than scary, but then was anyone really scared by DEEP STAR SIX?
3 Doomed Argonauts for It Waits Below.
P.S. How awesome is the cover?! (Even if said scene never happens in the book …)
The preceding review is based on an eARC from Netgalley, courtesy of Samhain Publishing – with an extra special thanks to Marty from Samhain for providing another copy when I was too slow to download what I was approved for from Netgalley.