To The Center Of The Earth by Grieg Beck


To The Center Of The Earth by Grieg Beck
Publisher: Severed Press
Genre: Contemporary, Action/Adventure, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

An old woman locked away in a Russian asylum has a secret—knowledge of a 500-year-old manuscript written by a long-dead alchemist that will show a passage to the mythical center of the Earth.

She knows it’s real because 50 years ago, she and a team traveled there. And only she made it back.

Today, caving specialist Mike Monroe leads a crew into the world’s deepest cave in the former Soviet Union. He’s following the path of a mad woman, and the words of an ancient Russian alchemist, that were the basis of the fantastical tale by Jules Verne.

But what horrifying things he finds will tear at his sanity and change everything we know about evolution and the world, forever.

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“Down there, beyond the deepest caves, below the crust and the mantle, there is another world.”

When a million dollar prize – as well as some serious bragging rights – are put up for grabs for the caving team who can travel the deepest under the earth the race is on. Two separate teams decide independently to try their luck with a long closed down cave in Russia, one that’s rumored not only the be the deepest anywhere on earth, but also possibly far more than anyone realizes. What the two teams discover is a whole new world – equal parts paradise and hell.

I really enjoyed this new adventure story from Mr Beck. His stories are always really really well balanced with both thriller, monsters, discovery of the unknown and adventure and this one certainly delivers in spades. I was quickly drawn in both by the characters, but also the caving adventure itself. Readers who enjoy a good “let’s discover something new” story should certainly find this suits their tastes, and readers who also enjoy “monsters eat most of the party” will find this book ticks a lot of those sorts of boxes as well. I’d hesitate to label this story as horror though – while there are certainly “monsters come and eat the characters” moments and there’s absolutely a few chilling scenes with alien creatures found deep deep under the earth – I’m not sure it really fits the “horror” genre in the sense of gore or serial killers or a more typical sense of a horror novel. Readers who are squeamish or not interested in monsters going bump in the dark style of books probably should shy away or be prepared to skim a few scenes – but I feel aside from that it’s not really horror at all but more adventure/thriller in style.

I also really appreciated the variation in the characters and how none of them were cartoonish or overdrawn. Even the antagonist was – while still not hero material – practical and willing to work with the team when the chips were down and it was very much an “us verses the monsters” mentality. I really really enjoyed this, partly because it would have been very easy (and far less satisfying I feel) if the antagonist had been an overblown villain character, but I could well believe how tempting that might have been. Indeed I found Mr Beck taking the harder road and notching down the characters arrogance and bravado and having the two teams come together and work in tandem as one merged team really satisfying and I was so pleased about this it really stuck with me.

As a longtime fan of this author I was amused at a few Easter Egg like tidbits where I recognized the author cleverly sneaking in subtle pointers to some of his other books where fans will notice this cheeky nod but others shouldn’t feel anything too amiss by the seemingly casual comments. It gave me a chuckle and flush of pride for each one I caught and it made reading this book all the sweeter to know I’d not only caught the reference but read and own the book as well.

Overall this was an amazing book and one I am pleased to have in print as I definitely expect to enjoy it a number more times in the future. I am also impressed with my own foresight – I have the sequel already purchased and ready to go. I’m thrilled I can move right onto it and not have to wait!

Readers who enjoy adventure stories, caving stories and monsters eating everyone should be as deeply satisfied with this story as I was. Mr Beck is a masterful storyteller and I feel this tale is well balanced, engrossing and sure to have you up reading half the night. A brilliant read and one I shall enjoy again in the near future.

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