Review: Pressure by Brian Keene

Pressure by Brian Keene is this summer's hot new thriller from the bestselling author and World Horror Grandmaster Award winner (Available June 21, 2016).

Fast and full of breathless moments, this one is a definite for any summer reading list. To say I really loved this story doesn’t do it justice. I was left wanting more—more about the characters I had come to love, more about the fascinating and terrifying monsters, more and Mauritius. It also had the surprising effect of making me want to go to the beach RIGHT NOW and snorkel and dive and see all of the wondrous things under the water, which is really a surprise for me since I’m pretty much afraid of what lurks under the surface, be it a lake or the ocean.

Brian Keene’s gorgeous descriptions felt so real that I could easily imagine I was right there at Mauritius, in the water. After looking up the real phenomenon, I have to say I am intrigued—an underwater waterfall I had never heard of before.

Mauritius was renowned for its stunning beaches, as well as being home to some of the world’s rarest animal and plant species, but one of the island nation’s main draws had always been its underwater waterfall—an optical illusion created as ocean currents sent sand and silt plunging off the island’s coastal shelf to a much deeper second shelf off Mauritius’s southern tip. The shelf, as well as the phenomenon, were fairly recent in geological terms, having been created a few million years ago by a slow and gradual spreading of the sea floor. As the silt and other debris drifted downward into the dark depths, it looked remarkably like a waterfall beneath the ocean. The illusion was especially prominent from the air. Long a curiosity for scuba divers, tourists flocked to see it, and the phenomena had been featured endlessly on various travel and science programs. Private guides did big business in helicopter tours of the area.

I had never heard of Mauritius before reading this book, and now, I’m hooked. Google it if you get a chance and dive into the breathtaking pictures of the underwater waterfall.

Otherwise, the book is full of knowledge about diving and free diving. I was left wondering whether he’s been involved in the sport or just fully researched the subject. Also, the tension in the scenes with the free diving were explored beautifully, leading me to catch myself as I started counting my own breaths.

Even with everything I’ve already mentioned, the real star of the show is the creature that is causing all of the chaos. It’s…fantastic. I don’t want to say too much about it, but it’s definitely one right out of a fever dream. 

Here’s one particular scene that gives a glimpse at only part of this monstrosity (plus, I’m a big fan of tentacles and really wanted to share):

Dozens of black-and-brown tentacles burst from the water. They varied in size, from the circumference of a sewer pipe to no thicker than an extension cord. As the swiveling spotlights trailed over them, Carrie noticed that some of the tentacles were lined with suckers, while others were not. As the night exploded with rifle fire and muzzle flashes, the flailing appendages whipped across the main deck, seizing anything they came in contact with. One curled around the antenna mast, and with a tremendous yank, snapped it off. Debris plummeted to the deck, sending sailors scrambling out of the way. Metal barrels, gear lockers, and even a mop were snatched up by the questing tendrils and yanked into the black ocean.

As I was typing this article, we were coming fresh off of a few new fatal shark attacks off of Australia, and it sent a shiver through me in context of the creature that resides in these pages. Which would I rather meet? Neither, obviously, unless I had a Pacific Rim Jaeger.

There are plenty of scenes such as the one above with the monster, along with claustrophobic scenarios, corporate dirty work, and nail biting moments to ratchet up the tension as the story unfolds. All in all, Pressure is an awesome summer thriller that you should check out.


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Amber Keller is a writer who delves into dark, speculative fiction, particularly horror and suspense/thrillers. You can find her work on her Amazon Author Page and she also features many short stories on Diary of a Writer. A member of the Horror Writers Association, she contributes to many websites and eMagazines and you can follow her on Twitter @akeller9.


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