This awesome debut blends the best of paranormal and psychological horror for a fresh contemporary horror read.
Full disclosure: I received an unsolicited paperback ARC.
I don't know what's in the water right now, but the Canadian horror mojo is strong with this year's debuts, and Amelinda Bérubé's flawless The Dark Beneath the Ice is no exception. I loved the character detail and how drama with family and friends and the childhood and parental goals crumbling under the pressure of nearing adulthood all fed into a really well-fleshed out main character and story world. Bonus points: it's set in Canada (Ottawa).
The MC trained as a fairly competitive ballet dancer, but no longer dances by the start of this story. Finding out why is one source of mystery. I don't care one way or another about ballet, so it was interesting how much the author made of this detail and how interesting it ended up being. Definitely some telling details to watch out for!
The other big mystery is a haunting that starts out slow and requires some sleuthing on the part of the MC and her newfound goth-girl friend. Good progression from eerie nightmares to full-on traumatic haunting, with nice touches of how realistic encounters with paranormal stuff like psychics and readings might happen in an essentially non-magical world.
So I don't think it makes it into most blurbs, but there is a f/f romance subplot. It's fairly slow-burn, and possibly bi? I'm kind of ambivalent on romance subplots personally, but I know it's a genre convention in lots of YA so heads-up; it's there if you want it, and if you don't, it's not overdone at all. Would love to see more stories about the power of nonromantic love, friendship, family, character etc. helping to overcome monsters, but that's neither here nor there; Bérubé does a great job keeping the story balanced and on trend.
This is a great read as we head into fall and Halloween. Hauntings, drownings, and possible madness, what's not to enjoy? Good for fans of the Mara Dyer series, Anna Dressed in Blood, and The Wicked Deep. Definitely grab a copy!