Title: The Dark Beneath The Ice
Author: Amelinda Bérubé
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Expected Publication Date: August 7, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Horror/Thriller, LGBTQ
Rating: 2.5 Stars
I received an ARC copy of The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bérubé in exchange for an honest review. Thanks goes to NetGalley, as well as the publisher, Sourcebooks Fire for this advanced copy which was recently released on August 7, 2018.
Dear fellow Babblers,
I’ve read very few ARCs in the last few months as I have devoted my time and energy to traveling, relocating to New York and focusing on personal physical and mental wellness. I’ve mainly kept my reading schedule close to my most beloved authors along with some rereads here and there. However, reading the Goodreads blurb of this new title, now one of the most trending amongst the Young Adult reader community I just couldn’t help myself. This short teaser offered by Goodreads gave me oh such high hopes for an epically thrilling read. I was sadly disappointed with no greater sinking feeling than being misled and sadly disappointed. A book of such great potential but has been executed in such a way that the horror is nothing more than banal mockery, attempting to match up to Paranormal Activity and Black Swann.
Something is wrong with Marianne.
It’s not just that her parents have split up, or that life hasn’t been the same since she quit dancing. Or even that her mother has checked herself into the hospital.
She’s losing time. Doing things she would never do. And objects around her seem to break whenever she comes close.
Something is after her. But a first attempt at an exorcism calls down the full force of the thing’s rage. It demands Marianne give back what she stole. And Marianne must uncover the truth that lies beneath it all before the nightmare can take what it think it’s owed, leaving Marianne trapped in the darkness of the other side.
It all begins with Marianne, recently having quit her youthful dancing career. Her parents, like all too many in today’s day and age, are on the road to divorce. The fighting, tears, confusion escalate between her parents as Marianne finds herself caught, feeling alone and defeated between her parents’ marriage battle. Her father walks out on her and her mother. Marianne’s mother leaves Marianne with her Aunt Jen and checks herself into the mental hospital. With no where to turn, no pretty little dance shoes to whisk her away Marianne sinks deeper and deeper into this endless puddle, unable to stop herself from drowning. This is where it all begins…
Inexplicable and tantalizing events begin to unfold around Marianne. Things that leave her paranoid, helpless and desperately in search of whatever it was her life was like before, even if that means cleaning up the mess her parents left behind in her quiet bubble of a world. Mirrors shatter, chalk breaks, doors begin to adopt minds of their own. These peculiarities follow Marianne to school, gaining greater strength as Marianne finds herself losing control of everything, including herself.
One thing leads to another. The novel starts off dull and pretty slow with no great sort of foundation picks up speed quickly. There does not seem to be much foundation that a lot of events are built onto – they just sort of happen, and happen fast. And when they end, they’re sort of left and forgotten, playing no further role in the rest of the story.
Witness to one of Marianne’s peculiar, completely uncontrolled, outburst an unlikely classmate steps into Marianne’s world. Ron is the tough goth girl of the school with a somewhat sketch past and daughter of a psychic mom. She, until now, keeps to herself in class, does what she does and lets no one tempt her to lose her footing. Well aware of this of Ron, Marianne reaches out in a solemn attempt for help which, surprisingly, Ron willingly yields.
Initially suspecting that Marianne may be possessed Ron attempts to initiate an exorcism and communicate with Marianne’s demon. This effort results in Ron becoming just as endangered as Marianne itself, feeding Marianne’s demon, rendering it stronger than ever. The demon invades each and every part of Marianne’s life leading her to question her own sanity and become fearful of letting those she love near her.
Our narrator, Marianne is extremely troubled. Her thoughts are fuzzy and her memories all lead back to her short lived dancing career, not to mention her dream of the “little red shoes.” It’s this choice of voice that really led to my rating of the book. To be told in the first person by a high school girl undergoing several psychological and disturbing issues she sure does seem to speak and think poetically. The writing style itself flows to a certain rhythm and reflects the storyline that should be left to a third person, omniscient narrator. Also, there are huge chunks of the novel where Marianne’s mom, a very important feature of the plot conflict is seemingly forgotten. We learn from Aunt Jen that Marianne’s mom is in the hospital and not doing so well but there are many gaps simply left out. As readers we must constantly rely of Marianne’s eyewitness accounts of events even though there are other going ons crucial to the plot unfolding behind her, all which could be made available if only for an omniscient narrator. Half the time Marianne finds herself being possessed, thinking that she is hallucinating, and panicking about the creepy happenings around her. Because of these characteristics I often found it difficult to trust Marianne in her narration of the story, even if it is her own. She often flashes back to her dancing days and relies on the calmness and tranquility the water near her home could bring her. Marianne’s memories are scattered, incomprehensible and, while they were a major part of understanding the existence of her demon did not clearly enough connect the most prevalent conflicts – Marianne’s parents’ divorce, the demon torturing Marianne’s life, and Marianne’s relationship with Ron – of the novel together.
Marianne’s character, emotionally shattered and to put it frankly, over the top annoying along with her narration of her own story throughout the entire novel led to a flat and undeveloped conclusion. Being possessed for days by a demon claiming to be the real you, getting tortured and psychologically abused is usually what people would consider a straight up trauma and result in some serious damage to the victim and their loved ones. The ending was just basically a “picking up where we left off and forgetting this ever happened.” This bizarre ending is what leads me to assume the author was tired, lazy or suffering a mad case of writers block: the conclusion simply just did not match the aftermath of a horror story which The Dark Beneath the Ice claims to be.
For readers looking for a thrilling horror story, something that will be match to Black Swann and Paranormal Activity, you will certainly be disappointed. The Dark Beneath The Ice was not as eerie as it could have been. It was not as polished as it should have been. It remains a disheartening title that, with some brushing up and proper editing, could have been so much more than a 2.5 star read.
(Book image credits go to Goodreads)