Review: “Trench Mouth,” Christine Morgan

Rating: 5 out of 5

Christine Morgan’s undersea creature-feature horror novel Trench Mouth is absolutely delightful! There’s an under-sea research station called Fathom-5. They’re exploring the nearby area finding new and fascinating forms of marine life, but one of the scientists wants to do more. She recruits a bunch of seemingly unlikely candidates to be transformed by gene science–into something capable of living down in those depths. But there are already much stranger things living down there–and they’re hungry!

This book doesn’t get too hung up on the science, including just enough to “feel” right. This is especially the case in regards to the gene therapy, which gradually changes our guinea pigs’ ability to master high-pressure, underwater environments. Each one seems to change in a way that suits them best. The older woman who’s a diver is elegant. Her handsome young husband is colorfully flamboyant (and a little bit poisonous). The older ex-military man develops camouflage. The swimmer becomes super-fast, and others change according to their needs.

There’s a Queen of the deep that’s taken notice of Fathom-5 and her charges: a massive anglerfish with her bioluminescent lure, her “court” of followers, and her equally massive appetite. There’s also a giant squid that would like to get to know the mysterious metallic visitor. We get wonderful sections in which we see things from the perspective of various sea creatures, as well as a variety of characters inside Fathom-5 and out.

The characters are smart and quirky and fun. There are secrets had, embarrassing (and horrifying) stories to tell, personality clashes, marauding monsters of the human, monster, and hybrid kinds, and more. Content note for explicit sex and sexual material and gory injuries/deaths.

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