Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!
I found out about The Depths after Nicole Lesperance’s other YA novel, The Wide Starlight, was my first 5-star read of the year. (For my review of The Wide Starlight, click here!) After it came out, I was excited to read it after how much The Wide Starlight impacted me. I knew going into The Depths that it would be a very different kind of book, and that was certainly the case—compared to Starlight, it was a slight disappointment, but when separated from Lesperance’s other works, it’s a unique horror story with a creative setting.
Enjoy this week’s review!
After a free-diving accident left her medically dead for several minutes, 17-year-old Adeline Spencer has to tag along with her mother and step-father on their honeymoon. In a secluded, nearly uninhabited island, Addie is supposed to stay put while she recovers from her near-fatal lung injury. But Eulalie Island is full of strange secrets—birds that seem to call her name, flowers that bleed bloodred sap, and a 200-year history of mysterious deaths. When she uncovers a centuries-old mystery hidden in a remote cave system , Addie must rescue herself from the same fate before Eulalie Island takes her in as one of its own.
TW/CW (from the author): death, past child death, blood, drowning, venomous insects/arachnids (spiders, centipedes, etc.)
I’m not much of a horror person, but after The Wide Starlight captured my heart, I was willing to give this novel a try. Sadly, The Depths didn’t blow me away like her previous novel did, but it still held its own with its unique take on a spine-chilling ghost story.
What really saved The Depths for me was its unique approach to the genre. Even though I don’t read/watch much horror at all, I’ve seen hardly any horror stories that take place in tropical locations. The secluded setting of Eulalie Island was the perfect, underused setup for a story like this—a chilling history of shipwrecks and sickness, cave systems that are all too easy to get lost in, and plenty of creepy crawlies to go around—not to mention the color-changing flowers that appear to bleed. (If I hadn’t already been dissuaded before, The Depths further convinced me that I’m not going caving any time soon.) Despite the supernatural elements, there were so many elements that felt real, and that’s part of what made it so successful. The Depths is a fantastic case study in using all aspects of your setting to make the most of your story.
I also love how Lesperance wove all of these centuries of history into her mystery; it’s easy to establish recurring events in your story, but the detail that she put into each part of the timeline—plus the presence of the ghosts and each one of their stories—gave the plot a more tangible sense of scale and weight. Even though I’ve repeated that The Wide Starlight and The Depths are two very different novels, when they stand together, you can see how skilled Lesperance is with building history and establishing a clear and well-thought-out timeline.
However, I found several elements of the story to be rather predictable. As detailed as the timeline was, the “plot twists” were often left behind, making for plot points that were easy to see coming—and I’m saying this as someone who hardly ever reads or watches horror. Without spoiling anything, the most obvious was the twist with Sean—I remember seeing that one coming from at least 100 pages before it was revealed. To be fair, it was at least a decently clever twist, but the fact that it was so easy to predict took a little bit away from my enjoyment of the story, even though I’m not the best at maneuvering plot twists.
All in all, a solid horror story that excelled in its unique setting, but fell flat in its predictability. 3.5 stars!
The Depths is a standalone, but Nicole Lesperance is also the author of The Wide Starlight, as well as the middle grade Nightmare Thief duology (The Nightmare Thief and The Dream Spies).
That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!