Not every story about human-like amphibians is meant to be an homage to the Creature from the Black Lagoon (Abe Sapien, for example. Or maybe Kermit the Frog). Still, it’s always nice to see a nod to the legendary Universal monster when the opportunity presents itself.
Here’s how author Graeme Reynolds describes the lair for his gnarly water creatures: “The tunnel begins to open up until it becomes a vast cavern, lit by green and glowing fungi. On the far side of the cave, a small waterfall spills out into a large, black lagoon.”
The inhabitants of this black lagoon aren’t lonely gill-men pining for a sexy scientist named Kay Lawrence (R.I.P. Julie Adams). They are the female progeny of an ancient witch—“a woman of the water, like the mer-folk and the sirens.” For thousands of years Jenny Greenteeth and her 28 water-hags have been killing, dismembering and eating people in the lakes and rivers of North West England, from Preston to Liverpool.
A spat of recent water-related deaths attracts the attention of Samantha Ashlyn, an investigative reporter for a small-time news website. Almost immediately she sees the “horrific parodies of women” in action and knows what needs to be done. She vows to kill the fucking she-creatures once and for all.
But there’s a lot to accomplish before Samantha finds her way down to the black lagoon. First and foremost, she needs to untangle a multi-generational mystery that includes her dead parents, her uncle, her children and even her best friend. It all leads to a shocking resolution that changes Samantha’s life forever.
Ol’ Jenny Greenteeth is a monster, that’s for sure, but her priscine handmaidens are a pitiful crew. When they attack their victims, they do so with a shocking sexual intensity. There’s a reason this novel is called Dark and Lonely Water. The killer mermaids are trapped in an eternal cycle of servitude, loneliness and depravity.
Readers will figure out pretty quickly that Samantha’s uncle is entangled in Greenteeth’s centuries-long curse. Not only did he willingly enable her spirit to exist, but he also doomed all future generations to a watery anti-life. “The goddess comes before all,” he tells his niece. “She is our family and this is our destiny, our holy charge and our legacy.”
Samantha, as you might guess, doesn’t agree with her nutty uncle. “Screw you,” she tells him. “You’re just another fucking prick destroying women’s lives. You think this is some sort of blessing? It isn’t. It’s the worst thing in the world.”
[Dark and Lonely Water / By Graeme Reynolds / First Printing: February 2023 / ISBN: 9781957133279]