It Waits Below by Eric Red
Samhain Publishing (2014)
282 pages, e-book $4.24, paperback $14.13
Reviewed by Damon Smith
Once it hits its stride, It Waits Below has a blistering pace that is only helped by the relatively short chapter length. But it sadly takes a bit to build up to that breakneck pace, and during that phase the book is somewhat of a slog.
Hundreds of years ago, a meteorite crashed into a Spanish Galleon, sinking both it and a massive hoard of gold to the bottom of the sea. Now in the modern day, a salvaging company is sending down a three-man sub to retrieve that treasure. Little do they know, the meteorite brought an organism to earth with it; a parasite that is more than ready to come to the surface and infect anything it touches…
Eric Red has an eye for detail in his writing, and while these details are welcome, especially in regards to the parasite and the ensuing chaos that comes at the climax, that same attention to detail bogs down the earlier chapters.
Despite this, once the action begins, it is tightly written and very claustrophobic. Even the firefights and action pieces on the sub’s support ship later in the novel keep the claustrophobia going despite the more open areas.
The monster as well is a decently fleshed out and threatening opponent; although the scenes where you get a look inside its head as well as when it speaks its demands to the crew threaten to push the book into goofy waters that it doesn’t need to be in. Eric Red has written for film before and the climax of It Waits Below shows that pedigree, with a set piece that would be right at home in a summer blockbuster.
While certainly a flawed book, It Waits Below is a fun and quite often frightening time. At times Red seems to be trying his hardest to channel movies such as 1982’s The Thing and for the most part it works, creating a solid, scary novel in the process.