Monsters weren’t supposed to exist, said Berkley, the plucky protagonist of Laura Martin’s latest novel. “I mean, I’ve read about them in books and stuff, but I’ve also read about dragons and elves and gnomes and giraffes, and none of those exist either.”
The truth was, there were all kinds of monsters in the world, all of them sea monsters. Jörmungandr, ghorch, makara, cetus, saw-mouthed skeplar, charybdis, kronda, bakunawa, two-headed aphant, loogie, mortagog and sea pig—they all existed because the world was now one massive body of water.
Because of a “Tide Rising” apocalyptic event, mankind was forced to take a giant evolutionary step backward. Humans lived on cruise ships and Navy aircraft carriers and existed on a diet of “fish, fish and more fish.” Like everyone else, Berkley was born and raised at sea. It was a precarious situation at best. “Fear was just a part of life,” she understood at an early age.
Berkley discovered gigantic sea creatures existed one day when she and her friend Garth were scavenging the Mediterranean Sea looking for valuable junk. Coming face-to-face with a 30-foot hydra serpent irrevocably changed her life in more ways than one.
Not only did monsters exist, she realized, but they were also intelligent and vengeful. Said Berkley immediately after escaping the clutches of the ruby Hydramonsterus serpentinius: “I turned back to look at the monster one last time. There was something about the way it looked back at me that made me sure it would kill me if it had the opportunity. I never thought that a creature like that could communicate emotion through its gaze.”
As a result of their first-hand, near-death experience with the hungry hydra, both Berkley and Garth were recruited as full-time monster hunters on the good ship Britannica. Now they would be stationed on the frontlines of the ongoing battle between man and monster.
It’s obvious Martin has a thing for sea monsters of all stripes and colors, and not just the shadowy unknowable blobs lurking at the bottom of the ocean. She takes care to give her creatures distinctive personalities. In particular: Elmer, the bratty gargantuan octopus.
Throughout the novel, ol’ Elmer is a pest who terrorizes the Britannica’s crew. It doesn’t take long before Berkley realizes he’s simply a colossal prankster with no evil agenda. After helping the ship overcome a hostile takeover by pirates, Elmer gives Berkley a convivial wink. What happens next is unknown, but the possibilities are endless.
[The Monster Missions / By Laura Martin / First Printing: June 2021 / ISBN: 9780062894382]