October 16, 2011

Rabid Reads: "Sinking Deeper" by Steve Vernon

Sinking Deeper: My Questionable (Possibly Heroic) Decision to Invent a Sea Monster
by Steve Vernon
160 pages
ISBN 9781551097770
Available via: AmazonBook Depository

When I read Haunted Harbours and Halifax Haunts, I thought it showed Steve Vernon's innate folkloristic abilities. Those were essentially nonfiction books, offering local legends from the Maritimes. This time around, Steve has crafted his own Maritime legend in the form of a middle-grade novel.

Roland MacTavish is a fourteen-year-old living Deeper Harbour, a slowly dying small town on the southern shores of Nova Scotia. His mother's the mayor, his father's the police cheif, and his grandfather Angus is his best friend. Yeah, the town's that small. But after some late night hijinks with his grandfather, and his self-described "punk-goth-freakazoid" friend Dulsie, Roland's mother tells him that she's resigning as mayor and moving to Ottawa--and taking Roland with her.

From that point on, Roland is determined to rejuvenate Deeper Harbour and convince his mother to stay, so he doesn't have to move. The plan? Invent a sea monster as a tourist attraction. What ensues is a rollicking read that captures the youthful exuberance and naivety that makes the best children's stories. Steve captures the voice of a desperate young teen resistant to being uprooted from everything he knows and loves.

All of the characters are distinct and likable and the 160 pages keep plot condensed to its purest elements. Roland's grandfather, Angus, was a particular treat to read. The guy was a hoot and kinda steals the show. The story is saturated in turns of phrase and figures of speech though, and feels a bit exaggerated at times. The story itself makes up for that, however, wrapping the reader up in an adventure that feels outlandish and believable at the same time.

Canada is full of quirky local legends, several of them involving sea creatures, and this one feels like it fits right in with the rest of them. A fun read for any kid--or kid at heart.



  1. Thanks for the great review, Gef. This book is still bobbing below the radar of readership. Good reviews like this will get the word out.

    Steve Vernon

  2. That sounds wonderful. It reminds me of the Goonies not wanting to leave Astoria.

  3. Steve - You're quite welcome. Fingers crossed that business picks up for it heading into the holidays.

    Jen - Much more down-home charm in this book than the Goonies. Though, the Goonies did have their charm.

  4. Sounds like a fun read. I've been reading a lot of stories, especially darker ones, set in Canada lately. I'll have to check this one out.