The Sea Below by William Meikle

The Sea Below by William Meikle
Publisher: Severed Press
Genre: Historical, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Horror, Action/Adventure
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

The adventurers from THE LAND BELOW return to the cavern under the Austrian Alps.

At first it is a rescue mission, but soon Danny, Stefan, Ed and Elsa find themselves in a fight for survival.

A perilous journey across an underground sea brings them to a lost island and fresh adventures, but their attempts to return to the surface only serve to make their situation worse.

Now they must flee for their lives, with all the denizens of that strange island at their heels.

When Danny received Stefan’s missive – that their mutual friend Ed had gone back underground to the caverns and other world they had recently discovered in an old caving site – Danny doesn’t hesitate. With little money to his name and even less reason to stay in London, Danny decides to go and offer whatever help his friends could use from an old soldier. Even though his dreams were still shadowed from his previous experience, Danny has no real idea of what’s in store for them all.

I really enjoyed this short story and feel it’s an excellent, quick read for those looking for an old school action/adventure with a bit of mystery and horror thrown in for good measure. While this is a sequel to The Land Below, readers should be reassured that they absolutely don’t have to have read that first installment to really enjoy this story. Even better, half the first few chapters aren’t spent re-hashing the previous book. While there isn’t much time spent describing Danny’s journey to the cave site, nor their descent down into the underground world the story is set in, I feel this time the story really reaps the rewards of having all it’s action centered fully on the caves, monsters and adventure the men have below ground. While the book is a self-contained adventure, there is not a traditional style of “happily ever after” ending. I don’t particularly mind this with mystery and adventure books, and I certainly don’t feel like the ending is a cliff-hanger or without suitable resolution, but I do feel readers should be aware the ending isn’t a traditional tying up of all the loose ends.

William Meikle – in my opinion – is an exemplary storyteller when it comes to short, action-paced and spooky stories. His writing style really flourishes in this sense and I feel he manages with true skill to straddle a number of genres. While not horror in a traditional sense, his story has monsters and things going bump in the dark. The action is there from virtually the first page and the pace is fast and I feel it really draws the reader along at a breakneck pace. I also really enjoy how he skillfully weaves the story so it’s impossible to tell what sort of period/year these two stories are set in. There are lamps, boats, trains and pulleys, engineering feats so it doesn’t feel “really” old – but the lack of computers and phones also indicates it’s not necessarily the modern world as we know it. Then again, phones and computers won’t work so deeply underground, so given the story’s setting this lack of modern technology indicating an older time period is seriously debatable. Underground caves in the middle of the isolated countryside don’t lend the story to the internet, wifi reception or satellite coverage. While I can’t quite figure this is a truly contemporary time period, I feel this story really can’t be slotted into a historical setting either – but more a vague, hazy “in between” type of time of not right now but neither in the distant past. And oddly, I enjoy the fact this story doesn’t give answers to every question that the reader will come up with. Some things are left to the readers own imagination – and isn’t that the point of reading, really?

Readers looking for an intense, fun and slightly scary monster/adventure/treasure hunt style of story should not find themselves disappointed with this. I thoroughly enjoyed reading every word and I know there will be a number of happy re-reads of this to come. Recommended.

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