Welcome to another Read-it-if review, this time with a little horror on the side. I received today’s novel for grown-ups through the LibraryThing member giveaways and although it’s taken me a little time to get to it, it was worth the wait. Bottled Abyss by Benjamin Kane Etheridge is an atmospheric and twisted tale featuring some Greek mythology, common-or-garden grief and loss and a
spattering smattering of violent retribution.
Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:
Herman and Janet Erikson are going through a crisis of grief and suffering after losing their daughter in a hit and run. They’ve given up on each other, they’ve given up on themselves. When their dog goes missing, Herman resolves to find the animal, unaware he’s hiking to the border between the Living World and the Dead. Long ago the gods died and the River Styxx dried up, but a bottle containing its waters still remains in the badlands. What Herman discovers about the dark power contained in those waters will change his life forever.
Read it if:
*you enjoy boating or have ever harboured a desire to be a Venetian gondolier
*you would happily add any strange looking, rare coin to your extensive collection, citing the fact that you obtained it through less-than-honourable means as a value-adding feature
*you can quite easily think of a handful of people you would tag without a second thought to suffer an unexpected and spectacular punishment
*you can’t help but indulge in a little schadenfreude now and then, particularly when it pertains to someone for whom a comeuppance has been wanting
If you’re a fan of Greek mythology, particularly stories featuring Charon and the Furies, then this book will seriously float your boat. Sorry, had to get that pun in. Bottled Abyss is a contemporary urban fantasy/horror tale that features elements of these myths in an original and genuinely creepy way. The opening scene, in which Herman bumps into an evasive (yet supremely helpful) Charon, drew me straight in and I found Etheridge’s writing style to be pretty engaging throughout, despite the fact that towards the middle there is a good deal more violence and unsavoury goings-on than I’m used to in my reading.
The blend of reality, myth and fantasy will certainly appeal to a lot of readers who enjoy the feel of urban fantasy with an edge. I quite enjoyed the character development of a number of the main players – particularly Janet, who certainly makes a change from the grief-stricken drunkard that she appears to be at the beginning of the book – as events become stranger and the worlds of the living and the dead start to blend together. There are a number of characters that readers will no doubt love to hate also – my unfavourite being the odious childcare teacher who isn’t what she appears, closely followed by the thuggish and brutal Vincent. I found it satisfying that many of the characters are linked in ways that aren’t immediately apparent, even to the characters themselves. I felt this was the mark of some clever narrative planning and added to the reading experience overall.
While tending toward more violence and visceral suffering than I generally like to see in books, Bottled Abyss certainly delivers on both the fantasy and horror elements of the tale. I found myself still thinking about the story a few days after finishing, so obviously this is more than just a blood-splatting, clichéd yarn, so if you are stout of heart (and stomach) and enjoy a bit of mythology and horror in a contemporary setting, I’d definitely suggest trying this one out.
Until next time,