Published by Tor.com Pages: 352
on July 10, 2018
"Wicked for the Cthulhu Mythos" —Seanan McGuire on the Innsmouth Legacy
Ruthanna Emrys’ Innsmouth Legacy, which began with Winter Tide and continues with Deep Roots, confronts H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos head-on, boldly upturning his fear of the unknown with a heart-warming story of found family, acceptance, and perseverance in the face of human cruelty and the cosmic apathy of the universe. Emrys brings together a family of outsiders, bridging the gaps between the many people marginalized by the homogenizing pressure of 1940s America.
Aphra Marsh, descendant of the People of the Water, has survived Deep One internment camps and made a grudging peace with the government that destroyed her home and exterminated her people on land. Deep Rootscontinues Aphra’s journey to rebuild her life and family on land, as she tracks down long-lost relatives on land. She must repopulate Innsmouth or risk seeing it torn down by greedy developers, but as she searches she discovers that people have been going missing. She will have to unravel the mystery, or risk seeing her way of life slip away.
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
Deep Roots is the second book in Ruthanna Emrys’s The Innsmouth Legacy series. I really enjoyed the first book, Winter Tide, so I was quite excited when I was approved for a free review copy on NetGalley. Thank you Tor Publishing!
I have a special shelf on Goodreads. It’s called “Lovecraft, but Better.” Because I like a lot of elements of Lovecraftian horror, but Lovecraft himself was a racist who couldn’t write a female character to save his life. Thankfully, a lot of authors have come along and taken over Lovecraft’s sandbox and done better things with it. There are incredible female authors, queer authors, and authors of color writing stories that ol’ HPL never would have approved of, and I love it.
Ruthanna Emrys is one such author. She’s well-qualified to work within the Cthulhu mythos, as she is the co-author of the brilliant Tor blog Lovecraft Reread Series, where two female authors specifically look at Lovecraft’s work through a modern eye, pointing out the good, the bad, and the downright cringe-worthy. In fact, it’s been a while since I’ve read one of their rereads, maybe I should go catch up… No AJ, stay focused! You have a book to review!
Deep Roots picks up not long after the events of Winter Tide. It doesn’t really work as a stand-alone novel. You’re thrown right into it without so much as a re-introduction to the characters, and since it’s been some months since I read Winter Tide, I had a bit of a struggle remembering who everyone was.
Our diverse band of protagonists has traveled to New York City in search of lost descendants of the people of Innsmouth, so they can try to rebuild their town. Of course nothing is ever that simple and it turns out there’s been a series of disappearances and the Outer Ones (aka the mi-go, the fungi from Yuggoth, etc etc) are to blame. What do these travelers between the worlds want with humanity?
This story deals a lot with inter-species conflict and prejudice. We’re shown the error of seeing the Lovecraftian races as monolithic, and are given a more nuanced view where groups can have internal disagreements and shades of moral subtlety. Emrys is adept at looking at how Lovecraft described the Deep Ones, or the Great Race of Yith, and extrapolating a more three-dimensional society from that. Deep Roots does a lot to expand on the interpretation of the Mythos that the author established in Winter Tide.
Much like the first book in the series, Deep Roots has a slow pace and a sort of introspective feeling to it. This will not work for every reader. I enjoy having the time to really be with Aphra Marsh, and I liked the included journal passages from the secondary characters that helped flesh out their feelings and motivations without distracting from the central story. But anyone looking for looming cosmic horror or an action-packed horror adventure will be disappointed.
The final pages of Deep Roots introduce some actions that may have huge ripples on the book’s world. I’m really curious to see what happens next. I hope that volume 3 of The Innsmouth Legacy is forthcoming!
FTC Disclaimer: A digital copy of this book was provided for promotional consideration. No additional compensation was provided for this review and the author’s words and opinions are her own.