RogerBW's Blog

Deep Roots, Ruthanna Emrys 09 July 2019

2018 Lovecraftian SF, second in the series. Aphra Marsh is in New York, trying to track down any relatives who might have survived the Innsmouth Raid. But other forces are at play.

The series continues to do an excellent job of building a world in which Lovecraft's stories are broadly true, but filtered through his parochial perceptions. The major new player in this volume is the Outer Ones, also known as the Mi-Go or the Fungi from Yuggoth. And naturally, given the tenor of these books, they aren't the simplistic monsters that one might expect.

Indeed, not only do they have factions – with the nature of their disagreement perhaps a little disappointingly comprehensible – but even their method of resolving disagreement is distinctly alien. They're another triumph.

This isn't a great place to start the series, though; if you can't readily call to mind who Deedee or Audrey is, you'll be somewhat lost. Even though I read the first volume last year, I could probably have done with a refresher.

There is plot going on here, though it's sometimes a little thin; the book is much more about the characters, their errors, and how they recover from them – or don't. There's far more moral complexity here than in the previous book. And that perhaps makes it less of an easy read, as well as less something that I rave about to everyone I know; it's quieter, and more subtle, and hits you over the back of the head with a club that seems disturbingly warm and redolent of… was that sandalwood?

Oddly enough, the main thing that threw me out of immersion was the use of the word "petrichor", the scent of earth after rain; I happen to know it was coined in 1964, and really shouldn't be available for casual use by someone in 1949. Bad beta-readers/editor, no biscuit.

If you liked the first book and want more of Emrys' writing, definitely continue. If you want more of the same, perhaps not; there's certainly a change of tone here, and while this is a fine book it's not the same. No third volume been announced ("My next book after Deep Roots will be in a different setting – but I'm happy to write as many Aphra books as my publisher will buy!"), but I hope there will be one.

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Previous in series: Winter Tide | Series: The Innsmouth Legacy

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