Deep Roots by Ruthanna Emrys

Read February 2019
Recommended for people who enjoy quiet exploration
★     ★    ★    ★ 

The title captures it perfectly; quiet, deep, thoughtful. Well, yes, there are multiple dimensions and worlds, and horrors from the night, and a smattering of G-men who are paranoid the Russkies might get their hands on powerful weapons before the Americans do. There’s also questions of families, of bloodlines, of spiritualism and of living one’s own life. It is very much a timely and yet otherworldly book.

Narrative is primarily in first person, that of Aphra, one of the last remaining full-blooded people of the water. She and her brother, Caleb, are hoping to find other ‘mixed-blood’ relatives who might be persuaded to rejoin them at Innsmouth and rebuild their race, inasmuch as it is possible. However, there are short page or two interruptions that contain first person accounts from one of the other characters. They bring another perspective to the situation, and occasionally add a scene in which doesn’t have Aphra in it. In some cases this humanizes other characters; in others, it might cement the reader’s dislike of the character.

Setting is New York City, which was intriguing. I like Emry’s word-smithing. Focus-wise, it contains a nice balance of description, rumination and dialogue, although tilts perhaps slightly higher to the rumination side.

“Spector straightened, shook his head, and led us down to the subway station. Tiled walls created an echoing cave of footsteps and muddled conversation, but the crowd was sparser. I was relieved to see signs forbidding cigarettes and pipes; my throat still stung after the ride from Boston. Even so, the platform air was a stew: half-spoiled food, urine, sweat, faded perfumes and musks. It cloyed and teased, wavering curtains of rot blowing aside for a moment to reveal hints of lust and roses.”

Ultimately, I found it very interesting and immersive. These were books I wanted to sit down and read without interruption, not because of the suspense, exactly, but because I wanted to fully sink into the world. I read when I had time and awakeness to pay attention.

Miscellaneous thoughts of advice:

No, it’s not a horror-thriller.

No, you don’t have to know Lovecraft, although you might appreciate some of the nods to the Lovecraftian worlds. As Emrys notes in her ‘thank you,’ a couple of her ideas capitalized on previous authors in the Lovecraft universe.

Yes, you really should have read Deep Tides before this one. It is very much a continuation. I’d say the two books together are a duology, and feel like the ending in this made for a satisfactory conclusion.



About thebookgator

avid reader and Goodreads reviewer looking for a home.
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2 Responses to Deep Roots by Ruthanna Emrys

  1. M. says:

    Nice review. Glad to see you liked this one. 🙂 Emerys’ writing is spot-on, and I find Aphra’s voice very soothing, even when she speaks of unpleasant things; it’s compelling even when it’s unsettling.

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