Book review · novel

Book review: Deep Roots

Deep Roots (The Innsmouth Legacy #2), by Ruthanna Emrys

Please note that this is a sequel and you might get spoiled if you keep reading further and haven’t read the first book yet. My review for the first book can be found here.

deep roots cover macmillanDescription: (from Tor dot com publishing)

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 Roots continues Aphra’s journey to rebuild her life and family on land, as she tracks down long-lost relatives. 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.

Publication date: July 10th 2018.
A review copy (eARC) of this book was provided by the publisher. Some things might change in the final copy.

While Winter Tide was about a found family coming together, Deep Roots is more about this found family finding their dynamics and working together. To continue on the comparison, Winter Tide was very atmospheric and mysterious and Deep Roots has a bit more things going on, places for the characters to go, a bigger plot driving things forth. This one has a lot of philosophical themes about identity and humanity, about acceptance and differences, about interference (be it from the governement or otherworldly creatures.) In this, Deep Roots also takes on a larger scale and stakes since Aphra and her friends encounter otherworldly beings as well as strange beings hidden on Earth. We also see more of Aphra’s Elders and I really appreciated that.

I liked the addition of flashbacks from a lot of the characters points of view between chapters, some heartwarming and very interesting to understand the characters better, or even reconnect to them if it’s been a long time since reading the first book. It adds even more of an emotional layer to the book because every little action of each characters is better understanded after getting a glimpse of their thoughts. Since the book has a nice cast of diverse characters, (being on race, sexuality, age…) it’s even better to be able to feel closer to each and everyone of them.

Emrys also succeeds at juggling her cast so as to not always have a crowded scene. Some characters disappear for a few chapters, some part ways for different parts of the investigation… While I could see her do it, it was nice and each character gets a chance to shine at one time or another.

I love the emphasis Emrys put on the importance of consent and respect, of the emotions of people and how Aphra always tries to do what’s best and think about the well being of the people around her. The care with which the author writes all of her characters and all the different point of view, never demonizing anyone (even the ones seen as ‘monsters’) is what makes this series a favourite for me. It’s one where, even if awful things have happened and might happen, you can FEEL the care of the author to always be respectful and caring of both the reader, the characters, and the Lovecraftian world she’s playing with.

Content warning: forced breeding mentionned, life in concentrations camps, racism, use of the n-word

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