Brad Hodges's Reviews > The Devil and the Deep: Horror Stories of the Sea

The Devil and the Deep by Ellen Datlow
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"It’s a natural human tendency to fear the unknown, and our relative ignorance about the sea fosters superstitions, myths, and legends about it and what might inhabit it (sirens, sea monsters, forms of organic life that we can’t even begin to comprehend because the conditions in which they flourish are inimical to human life)." So writes Ellen Datlow in her introduction to The Devil and the Deep, an anthology of horror tales connected with large bodies of water (mostly the ocean). I have no particular fear of the ocean, and in fact can feel drawn to it (I'd love to have a house on the ocean, except with global warming one day it would be underwater), but I get it. They say we know about the universe than we do the bottom of the deepest part of the ocean.

The stories, of course, vary in style and quality, and some of them are only marginally connected to the sea. "A Ship of the South Wind," by Bradley Denton, takes place on dry land on the Kansas prairie, but it does contain a ship, with a captain who knows how to throw a narwhal tusk. It also has a great opening sentence: "Uncle JoJim slid his shotgun into its scabbard behind Calico Girl’s saddle, then walked into the shin-high tallgrass to retrieve his sixth prairie chicken of the day."

A good percentage of the stories are about some kind of force that attracts people to become part of it. This is true with "What My Mother Left Me," by Alyssa Wong, "He Sings of Salt and Wormwood," by Brian Hodge, " and my favorite, "Sister, Dearest Sister, Let Me Show You to the Sea," by Seanan McGuire, a savage tale about sisters--one tries to kill the other by tying her up in a tidal pool, but it backfires. Badly.

There are also stories about ships, either old ("Haunt," by Siobhan Carroll, about ghost ships taking the dead aboard), and newer ("Shit Happens," by Michael Marshall, set aboard the Queen Mary, and involving zombies. There's another set on a ferry going between Scotland the Shetland Islands, "The Deep Sea Swell," by John Langan, which has a ghost in a diving suit, and another about whalers getting stranded on a spit of land that has something very nasty on it ("The Whaler's Song," by Ray Cluley).

I think the most interesting story is "Broken Record," by Stephen Graham Jones, which finds a man stranded on a desert island but has random objects arriving. Then he realizes that these are the things he listed on a contest entry years ago, about what he would want on a desert island. One of them is his mother, and another is a werewolf. Finally, I have to mention "The Tryal Attract," by Terry Dowling. It has a whispering skull. 'Nuff said.

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Reading Progress

July 30, 2018 – Started Reading
July 30, 2018 – Shelved
September 5, 2018 – Finished Reading

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