THE DEPTHS by Kirk Kjeldsen, Book Review

 The Depths is Kirk Kjeldsen’s third novel.

Kirk Kjeldsen The Depths Cover

The Depths Synopsis:

After trailing spouse Marah Lenaerts suffers her third miscarriage in as many years, her husband Eden surprises her with a vacation to Malaysia, hoping it will lift her spirits. And it does, as they enjoy trading the bustle of their Shanghai life behind for the idyllic tropical paradise. But while on a diving excursion, they’re taken hostage by a group of terrorists, who take them to a remote island and hold them there for ransom. The longer that time drags on, though, the more doubts Marah begins to have about their captors’ true motivations.

(Grenzland Press, May 2018)

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Having enjoyed Kirk Kjeldsen’s second novel, a taut historical thriller Land of Hidden Fires, I was keen to experience his latest offering The Depths.

What I find refreshing about Kjeldsen’s writing is his no-nonsense approach, the immediacy and directness of his prose. This is an author that really values a reader’s time and writes with their experience front of mind. That’s not to say The Depths prose is spare, quite the opposite in fact — the word selection simply judicious.

Kjeldsen displays a real talent for swiftly encapsulating the mood between characters with evocative metaphor and simile.

Marah looked over at him with her wide, glassy eyes. There was so much she wanted to say, but she was afraid that if she opened her mouth, it would all come crashing out like the waters from a burst dam and carry him away. Instead, as she’d done so often in recent months, she said nothing and glanced back out the window, where hazy shapes merged and broke apart in the fog. She saw a cell splitting into two, and then imagined a grenade exploding.

He cleverly mines character insecurities to build credible tension and the reader’s empathy for his protagonist.

Somewhere in the distance, a hornbill cried out through the darkness. It sounded like a woman laughing.

The sights, scents and sounds of the Malaysian jungle setting are brought to life… the humidity, insect bites and deprivation just as vivid as the desperation and fading hope.

While there is clearly much to admire in this novel, The Depths does have its weaknesses. There are elements of predictability intrinsic to the plot construct, and some repetitious rudimentary actions and experiences described each time the narrator is blind-folded, the panic attacks and attempts to gather information without sight (counting distance, turns, etc). While my engagement lessened in these moments, the conclusion’s execution still delivered a good measure of reader satisfaction.

Kirk Kjeldsen’s The Depths is a compelling psychological thriller.

BOOK RATING: The Story 3 / 5 ; The Writing 4 / 5  — Overall 3.5

Get your copy of The Depths from:

Book Depository | AmazonKobobooks | B&N | Indigo | Booktopia(Aus)

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Drama

This review counts towards my participation in the 2018 New Release Challenge.

About the Author, Kirk Kjeldsen

Kirk Kjeldsen received an MFA from the University of Southern California and is currently an assistant professor in the cinema program at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of the Arts. He has also taught at the Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie Berlin (dffb) and the Polish National Film School in Łódź. His novel Land of Hidden Fires was named one of the ten best books of 2017 by the New Jersey Star-Ledger. He also wrote and produced the feature film “Gavagai,” directed by Rob Tregenza, which Richard Brody of The New Yorker called “an extraordinary and memorable film.” He lives in Germany with his wife and two children.

Other reviews of The Depths

Goodreads, Kirkus Reviews, IndieReader, SanFrancisco Review of Books

* My receiving a copy of The Depths from the publisher via NetGalley for review purposes did not impact the expression of my honest opinions in the review above.