Still catching up on all the reading I’ve not been able to focus on for ages, and I finally got to read a book by one of my Twitter friends, Premee Mohamed, Beneath the Rising (2020)!
Part thriller, part horror, part adventure, Beneath the Rising follows a girl genius and her best friend as they rush to prevent an eldritch apocalypse!
Joanna “Johnny” Chambers has lived the life of a celebrity since she was a little girl, justifiably, as her discoveries have changed the world, including a cure for HIV and dementia. Nick Prasad, her friend since they were children, is more or less happy to stay friends with her and keep in contact with her when he can, while he lives a perfectly ordinary life working at a bakery.
But Johnny has made a new discovery, one that would transform civilization forever: a clean and seemingly limitless source of power, in a compact reactor. She shows it to Nick first, but already her invention has attracted the attention of far less friendly beings. The reactor has caused ancient, evil eldritch beings to stir in their slumber, and they have sent their emissary to claim the power source by any means necessary. Soon Johnny and Nick are on the run across the world, from the oldest library in the world to the ruins of the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh, working to close the door that Johnny inadvertently opened. They are pursued not only by the servants of the Ancient Ones; there are others out there who have their own agendas. Can they stop the cosmic horrors from subjugating humanity and destroying the world?
Beneath the Rising is a fast-paced fun adventure. It is clearly and directly inspired by the cosmic horrors of writers like H.P. Lovecraft, but like many modern authors Mohamed puts her own unique spin on the Old Ones and their motivations. The result is a tale that leans more towards adventure and thriller than horror, but it definitely takes some sinister turns along the way.
At first, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the main character of Johnny, who is depicted as a very familiar child prodigy archetype. But there is more to her story and background, and Nick’s as well, and by the end of the novel the reader has a very different and deeper view of both of them. The direction of the novel is hard to predict, as there are a few major twists and revelations along the way; I was just enjoying the ride yet eager to get to the end to see how things turned out!
This book is the first of a trilogy, and was followed by A Broken Darkness (2021) and The Void Ascendant (2022), continuing the story of Johnny and Nick and their fight against evil. It is worth noting that Beneath the Rising comes to a very satisfying conclusion on its own, and doesn’t require reading the sequels; however, I find myself eager to see how things develop.
I think I’ve had this book in my collection since around the start of the pandemic, but just wasn’t reading much! I’m glad I finally did, because Beneath the Rising is a really thrilling adventure, and I look forward to catching up on the sequels as well.