Rivers Solomon’s The Deep imagines a world where mermaids are the descendants of the pregnant African slave women who were thrown overboard by slave owners. A really interesting concept to base a novella on. While living idyllic and peaceful lives in the deepest parts of the sea, Rivers Solomon’s creations are not your clamshell bra wearing mermaid. Descended from humans, humanlike in appearance and emotion, but startlingly creepy creature of the deep.
The Deep follows Yetu, a young mermaid, and the historian for her people. She holds the memories of her people’s traumatic history so that the rest of her society can live in blissful ignorance. Carrying and being carried by these memories is physically and emotionally painful for Yetu. So, when the opportunity arises, Yetu flees to the surface to escape the memories and expectations of her people.
The Deep is an introspective book. I felt disconnected from this book for quit a lot of it. I think I expected it to be different than it was. This isn’t to say that it wasn’t a good story or wasn’t well written. This just wasn’t the story for me. The Deep is about Yetu’s emotional and psychological journey and how it relates to her understanding of her role amongst her people and their history. It is just not a subject that is typically within my wheelhouse.
In Yetu’s time on the surface, away from her people and the pressures she is under, she meets a human woman. A human woman who finds Yetu as interesting as Yetu finds her. This romantic arc is short and sweet and the book concludes on a happy ending. Yetu, her people, and her love interest are all happy in the end, which is always nice.
While not the book for me The Deep was still worth the time to read at only 167 pages. And hey, maybe you will like it more than me, like many people have!