Review: Secrets So Deep

I absolutely adored reading Dark and Shallow Lies by Ginny Myers Sain. It was an incredibly bingeable, brilliant book that thrives on its atmosphere of dread, darkness and death.

So when I heard she was releasing another book, I knew I had to get it!

This review originally appeared on The Nerd Daily.

Twelve years ago, Avril’s mother drowned at Whisper Cove theater, just off the rocky Connecticut coastline. It was ruled an accident, but Avril’s never been totally convinced. Local legend claims that the women in the waves—ghosts from old whaling stories—called her mother into the ocean with their whispering. Because, as they say at Whisper Cove, what the sea wants, the sea will have.

While Avril doesn’t believe in ghosts, she knows there are lots of different ways for places, and people, to be haunted. She’s spent the past twelve years trying to make sense of the strange bits and pieces she does remember from the night she lost her mother. Stars falling into the sea. A blinding light. A tight grip on her wrist. The odd sensation of flying. Now, at seventeen, she’s returning to Whisper Cove for the first time, and she might finally unravel the mystery of what really happened.

As Avril becomes more involved with camp director Willa and her mysterious son Cole, Whisper Cove reveals itself to her. Distances seem to shift in the strange fog. Echos of long-past moments bounce off the marsh. And Avril keeps meeting herself—and her dead mother—late at night, at the edge of the ocean.

The truth Avril seeks is ready to be discovered. But it will come at a terrible cost. 

Publication Date: 29th September

TW: death, murder, grief, PTSD, hallucinations, drowning, fire, violence, gaslighting, manipulation, suicidal ideation, self-harm, sexual abuse, grooming

Goodreads | Waterstones

My Thoughts:

Secrets So Deep is a potently ambient book that sits comfortably in its intense, edgy environment to convey this spell-binding mystery.

Ginny Myers Sain is an expert at weighing her books down in a thick and smoky environment that pulls you in until you cannot escape. Dark and Shallow Lies was the type of book that you just cannot get out of your head. Secrets So Deep plays on that same vein of choking, intense and claustrophobic settings, encircling with secrets and the hint of death. This book is so, so atmospheric and it is so easy to just get lost in the fog. That slowly steeped atmosphere is just impeccable and allows time to slow around you while you read. 

This is a really psychological story, centering ghosts, hauntings and buried secrets. I liked how ghosts here became mirrors and glimpses into the past, echoes of moments long vanished. The way Myers Sain plays with realism and the whisper of something beyond our comprehension is superb and so entertaining to read about. Yet again, this is a very layered and well-constructed story. Not everything is as it first seems and there are plenty of twists to discover. The complex web of threads – secrets and lies – that characterise this space is a wonder to unpick and offers some intriguing moral dilemmas, as well as questions that linger long after the final page. This is also a book heavily concerned with trauma and grief. Myers Sain uses the ongoing impacts of traumatic experiences to obscure and fracture the narrative through non linear moments and hallucinations. That trauma becomes deeply intwined with the reliability and realism of the story, emphasising the effects of PTSD and traumatic flashbacks. The past is at times a deeply ominous presence in the book and definitely its own character. Those echoes in the form of ghosts are both comforting and deeply disturbing at times. 

At the heart of the book, we have Avril. She was a brilliant protagonist, marked by her past and the heavy weight of grief still sitting on her shoulders. Her natural ability and skill to fully merge into her characters speaks to her shifting social cues, always trying to fit the perfect image of what she thinks people want. That deep-rooted hurt and sense of abandonment has defined her, but I really enjoyed how Myers Sain elevated her character and developed her beyond that. Her trauma has had a significant effect on her, but it does not totally define her and I massively appreciated that. 

Also, I loved how theatrical this book and how visually stunning it was. A lot of the book hinges on deceptive appearances and the ever blurring distinction between reality and fantasy. Obscurity makes you question everything you think and feel. There is a spectacular meditation of the pretence of acting and the way the self can dissolve in the pursuit of the character. Theatre can truly allow you to escape and lose yourself in a story completely, though that disappearance is a double edged sword. Obsession and the pursuit of perfection are often hallmarks of talented actors and that is something explored in an original and fascinating way here. Clearly, this is also a love letter to the found family and community created within theatrical spaces. It celebrates the joy, colour and love of the spectacle and the simple pleasures of creativity. 

Secrets So Deep sneaks up and utterly consumes you in its murky tides. This is a book made of smoke, impossible to pin down and difficult to forget.

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