Samhain Publishing, $6.50, ISBN 978-1-61923-093-4
In 1945, the Nazis was banked their hopes of victory on the U-5001. This submarine was designed using hushed-up secret tech to allow the submarine to move undetected by the solar scans of the enemies – the perfect transportation for an equally top secret weapon of mass destruction. Kapitaenleutnant Erich Heinz Bruckner was the commander, and when the story opens with a flashback, it is obvious that he doubted that he and his crew of 52 would all survive the mission. And you know what they say about being such a pessimist – as it turned out, he was right. Only, no one seemed to die – the whole U-5001 and its crew simply vanished. commanded the U-boat on its only mission—a voyage that transported him and his crew to a place of wonder…and horror.
What happened to the U-5001? That is what Dexter McCauley, a diver, intends to find out in the present day, when he and his diving buddies stumble upon it. It somehow ended up in Chesapeake Bay, all of places. And really, if curiosity kills the cat, just imagine what will happen when he realizes that darker forces are behind the mystery of the U-5001. Really dark and creepy forces…
Submerged has one problem: it tries too hard to show off too many things. The author loves his narrative devices, and he can’t stick to a few. So, here are flashbacks, changes from third person to first person narrative and back again (have to lose those log entries), and, my least favorite, dramatic cliffhangers with the subsequent scenes cut to a time down the road – something that just slightly above “Bobby Ewing coming out of the shower… and it was all a dream!” when it comes to cheesy narrative gimmicks.
All the fancy stuff is wasted, though, because the story dies the moment the story shifts to Part Two and the author introduces a new – and annoyingly smug – character out of nowhere. Erich’s story is building up in a suspenseful manner, only to have the author abruptly change gears, move the story back to the present, and disrupt all momentum and goodwill built so far because he really likes to show off his writing tricks. The story turns into a dry scavenging and talk-heavy tale full of naval and submarine terminology, and I wonder where all the Lovecraft-ian horror elements I was promised in the official plot synopsis is. I don’t know why this one is marketed as horror, come to think of it. It’s more like a mild action adventure tale with some milder spooky elements thrown in.
There may be a good story here, or there may not be. Ultimately, I can’t bring myself to care much because the author’s deliberate obfuscation, time skips, and narrative switches all come together to just annoy me. Perhaps a more “old-fashioned” straightforward narrative will do the trick better. As it is, this one is indeed Submerged by the author being too much of a smart aleck here.
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