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The Abyss Mass Market Paperback – Unabridged, October 12, 1983
This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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"I loved this book. The Abyss is very close to being great." --Stephen King (quoted from front cover blurb) "They dug one foot too far... and released the demons of Hell." (quoted from the front cover blurb) Amazon's author page for Jere Cunningham is at: /Jere-Cunningham/e/B001HPJKIA
Top customer reviews
The novel is Stephen King/Peter Straub-like novel in that it is rich in characters who have some serious issues and a an unknown menace. It has strong emotional power set against a background of impending doom. The major problem is that the author takes too long to get to the action and offers several ill-fitting answers and alludes to other factors. The writing is good but the path gets cluttered. The reader must tread through a lot of background information and meandering plot lines. I cannot say I despised reading this novel but certainly cannot say it was a pleasurable or even scary read.
The story's premise is interesting enough, if not exactly original. A group of coal miners deep under the Tennessee ground in one of the country's deepest mines begins to experience strange phenomena. As they dig deeper, they uncover artifacts that seem to have no business so far underground: strange looking thorns, odd rock formations. Some of the men notice a smell of sulfur; others see things moving in the shadows from the corners of their eyes.
On the surface, the town of Bethel begins to undergo weird changes as well. Red liquid that looks and smells suspiciously like blood flows from the city faucets. Animals begin acting strange, even hostile. Things start to fall apart for no apparent reason and decay more rapidly than they should. And people start to change too, in subtle ways at first, but then more and more blatantly.
When a hermitlike old woman who has lived in Bethel longer than most recalls that similar things happened a long time ago when the mine was new, a small band of citizens wonders what foreign forces are affecting their lives. And by the time the horrifying answer becomes unquestionably clear, it's too late to do anything but run.
The biggest problem with the book is the over-the-top writing. Mr. Cunningham tries to hard to construct sentences in as poetic a form as possible, resulting in a mishmash of flowery prose that describes too much and says too little. Characters present another problem, as not one is likeable. The protagonists drink to excess, are promiscuous, curse, and constantly demean each other--and this is before the mine's evil influence begins to have its way with the town. The town itself, with its shambling buildings and depressed residents, presents a dreary picture of what hell might actually be like long before the more stereotypical fiery variety is unleashed from the deep pit outside of town.
Loose threads and meaningless subplots abound, and many scenes are confusing. The author strove so much for descriptive writing that he at times seems to have forgotten to tell the reader what's going on. The story has no apparent climax, and the ending, while not exactly predictable, is far from satisfying.
The depictions of hopeless sexual promiscuity and vulgar language alone are enough to render this book unreadable. When these are combined with poor writing and an underdeveloped story, the book becomes first tiresome and eventually dreary. While some might argue that the depression I underwent while reading parts of this book constitute an authorial triumph, I found the entire reading experience to be unremarkable at best and downright wearying most of the time. Stephen King's opinion notwithstanding, I would not recommend this book to anyone.