Just when I thought I’d never read anything weirder than a King or Koontz novel, I found myself immersed in Jeff Long’s Deeper. It’s a super creepy book filled with plenty of chills to keep you up all night. The idea is brilliant and unique and the evil is so raw and despicable, it leaves you feeling grateful this story isn’t real. I didn’t realize this is the second book in a series, so if you’re wanting to read this, you may want to start with the first one.
Deeper follows several characters as they traverse this new world where hell lives right beneath their feet in the subterranean tunnels below earth’s surface. Years ago, a weapon was deployed in the subterranean caves in the hopes that all the evil below would be destroyed. Of course, Hell isn’t destroyed that easily.
On Halloween one night, several children are abducted by the Hadals (the creatures that inhabit this Hell below). One mother, Rebecca, decides to set up an “army” of people to help her find her daughter Samantha, who was taken by the Hadals. They brave the caves dangers, ignoring the stories of peril and the fact that people who go below never come back the same. Many come back looking like half-man, half-monster. Rebecca is determined to find her daughter so no advice to steer clear of the caves is heeded. Her adventure beneath the earth is wrought with peril, hardship and an evil so cruel it will leave you breathless.
Meanwhile, Ali von Schade, a researcher on all things having to do with the sub-planet and its inhabitants, goes down to the caves with her friend Gregorio. Years ago (and I’m guessing this is from the first book) Ali and her husband Ike Crockett were slaves to the Hadals in the sub-planet. Ike ended up saving Ali’s life and when they made it home again, Ali found out she was pregnant with their little girl Maggie. But Ike couldn’t stay put. His mind was consumed with the darkness below. He had been changed. Following the voices calling to him from the deep, Ike went beneath the earth once more never to return again.
Amidst all of these separate stories is one of the creepiest ones. Small chapters are dispersed throughout the book. Within these chapters, we learn from an Angel who lives deep within the sub-planet. He is speaking to a man, telling him all the mysteries of this world. And yet, the Angel is unable to escape hell. He needs someone to set him free. The man is his captive, unable to escape, so he resigns himself to listen to this dark Angel and learn from him so that, if he’s lucky, he can one day escape and find a way to warn the world.
The Angel feeds randomly on humans and creatures, anything that makes its way to him. He also admits to being the creator of all things. This is where the story veers off into a fantasy I cannot condone. Being a believer in God and Heaven and Hell, much of what the Angel says is blasphemous. During their deep discussions, the Angel tells his captive that man created him through their own imagination, even though the Angel was supposedly the one to create man. It’s a strange paradox and one I found to be extremely deep. I wasn’t sure what I was missing or what Jeff Long was trying to say or if he was just having fun with an idea. Either way, I wasn’t too fond of this demonic Angel claiming omnipotence and power and creation. He’s a disgusting character, and one I would never give credit for creating such a beautiful world.
Don’t read this if you can’t handle graphic content and thematic elements that go beyond the weird into the extreme zones. Even though I don’t agree with everything in the book, it doesn’t take away from the fact of how great a writer Jeff Long is. This story is full of mystery and a wondrous imagination. It’s also beautifully written and vividly described.
I didn’t give much of the book away because it has so many twists and juicy parts to it that giving away anything could ruin the ride. It’s dark, deep, suspenseful, and it makes you think.
Read it if you dare. It’s a perfect book for Halloween!!!