I’m afraid of the ocean. Not in a weird way – I don’t freak out when I go to the beach or anything. But I think there’s a level at which the ocean, the deep ocean, is terrifying. It’s this deep vastness, an empty abyss where there is literally no light, where things that look like they should be in a horror film appear. And it’s just so unexplored, so empty – we really have no idea what is down there. What could appear.
Also, for the record? It’s the world’s largest toilet. Gross.
Sea of Sorrows is about that fear. The book follows the story of a group of adventurers, traveling in the late 1920s in order to find a cache of sunken German (Imperial German, not Nazi German) gold. As one does. They find that gold – along with a group of undersea, monstrous mermaids.
This book does certainly emphasize the horror of the ocean. The undersea scenes are done almost entirely in black, not in blue, and there’s no variations of color down there. Occasionally a lighter line, to distinguish an obstacle or some bubbles, but the depths of the sea are black. Even the surface is black, with just a few minor gradations of white to show cresting waves. The ocean is a dark place, filled with mystery and with death.
But the ocean is a natural horror, and the book wants to emphasize man as the truly evil force. The characters are nearly all veterans of the First World War, and it’s that horror that occupies their thoughts. The book transitions from a red-on-black flare over the ocean, to the red-on-black flares over a midnight attack on the battlefields. Those scenes, once again, take the black backgrounds, with little gradation, and then punctuates them with these vicious spurts of red – blood and gore and guts, as the characters gun down the approaching foe.
Even the war scenes set at sea are different. The ocean is less opaque, and new color palettes – blues and greens – enter the book. It’s human horror that causes those deaths. The ocean, as evil, as scary as it may be, is just watching.
I have some issues with the book, still. The characters are not introduced so well, and remain somewhat similar. I think that most of the characters have a similar voice. But overall, in the sum of things, it’s a great start for a really intriguing series.
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