"Borne of the Deep (The Salem Hawley Series: Book 2)" Book Review

Written by Tony Jones

Published by High Fever Books

borne of the deep michael patrick hicks poster large

Written by Michael Patrick Hicks
2020, 154 pages, Fiction
Released on 7 April 2020


I’ve enjoyed the fiction of Michael Patrick Hicks for several years now; an author who specialises in blending fast-paced pulpy horror, thriller and science fiction, check out Mass Hysteria or Broken Shells for some cool examples of his work. The Resurrectionists series is a major departure from his previous style, and I admire authors who stretch the boundaries of their writing with clever changes of direction. The series takes us back to the 1780s for a fascinating tale of cosmic horror and dark experiments, set in America a few years after the country gained its independence by kicking out the British overlords. Make sure you read The Resurrectionists before embarking upon Borne of the Deep, as they need to be tackled in the correct order for maximum enjoyment.

In a brief recap of the events of book one, the main character is Salem Hawley, a black man who fought for the American colonies against the Brits and is now a free man who is drawn into a dark graverobbing mystery. Set in New York, where it is common for graves, particularly of black people, to be robbed, a friend of Salem’s spouse is dug up and he attempts to help catch the culprits before being sucked into a supernatural underworld. Although The Resurrectionists is a horror story, it also has a strong sense of social justice and the question of race is a theme which lurks in the background, more so in the first book, adding an extra dimension to plot developments.

The other main characters, Jonathan Hereford and Dr Richard Bayley, are the The Resurrectionists of the title of book one; both are very nasty pieces of work and occultists. Bayley is obsessed with pain and, specifically, the idea that extreme pain, or torture, can bring forth something otherworldly, the cosmic horror element of the story. Hereford is the perfect assistant, as nobody enjoys inflicting pain more than this guy. The result is probably the most violent and graphic book Michael Patrick Hicks has written, but it never glorifies the unpleasant torture scenes. This opening novella ends on a beauty of a cliff-hanger and I was gagging for the second instalment.

Unfortunately, the sequel Borne of the Deep does not reach the same heights of its predecessor. It is a perfectly serviceable follow-up, but ultimately just not enough happens in it. I do not know how long the projected series is, but perhaps it suffers from being a middle section, where there is necessary plot manoeuvring in setting things up for big events further down the line. The plot is built around two major events; the first of which sees Salem Hawley going on a long journey. This goes on too long and is quite uneventful. Unfortunately, this travel sequence lacks the atmosphere of the New York setting of the predecessor, which is an outstanding location and bustling with life. The second major sequence, which is towards the end, is a supernatural battle which is also overlong and ultimately drags. Even the orgy which precedes is not enough to truly light the fires.

There is not much more you can say about the plot without going into heavy spoiler territory as Salem heads to Arkham, Massachusetts, on the hunt for a mysterious object, and even though the final destination is a dark and dangerous location, it never genuinely fires the imagination and I wondered whether it was worth the long trek. The clever conclusion of The Resurrectionists is only hinted at in dream sequences and is obviously, frustratingly, being held back for the next part. As well as cosmic horror, witchcraft is added to the mix when Hawley meets a suspected witch and freaky stuff follows him around, which is connected to the events of the first novella. This is well presented, with the ‘witch’ believing Sam might be in danger due to previous events.

I do not want to be too harsh on Borne of the Deep, as its predecessor is excellent and is obviously a hard act to follow. I’m still going to read book three, as I am invested in finding out what is going on with those pyramids which pop up in Hawley’s dreams and what direction events head into. It is tricky to maintain momentum in series which is released in parts. For example, even John F.D. Taff’s excellent four-part series The Fearing has dips along the way. In part three, I hope Sam Hawley finds himself back in New York, perhaps with the witch in tow, and I look forward to seeing how the plot moves forward now that the diversion into Arkham is in the taillights.


Overall: 3.5 Star Rating Cover
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Tony Jones
Staff Reviewer
Such is Tony’s love of books, he has spent well over twenty years working as a school librarian where he is paid to talk to kids about horror. He is a Scotsman in exile who has lived in London for over two decades and credits discovering SE Hinton and Robert Cormier as a 13-year-old for his huge appetite for books. Tony previously spent five years writing The Greatest Scrum That Ever Was, a history book very few people bought. In the past he has written for Horror Novel Reviews and is a regular contributor to The Ginger Nuts of Horror website, often specialising in YA horror.
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