Review: Sinking Deeper, by Steve Vernon

Sinking Deeper cover artSinking Deeper: Or My Questionable (Possibly Heroic) Decision to Invent a Sea Monster, by Steve Vernon (Nimbus, 2011)

Fourteen-year-old Roland lives in the dying seaside town of Deeper Harbour, Nova Scotia. His parents have separated, and when he’s with his police-chief father, he sleeps at the jail while his dad does night patrol.

Except when his grandfather convinces him to sneak out for some prank-type vandalism. That’s how the story opens, and lest parents be concerned, there are consequences and restitution. There’s also, through a madcap series of events, the inspiration of how to revitalize the town’s tourist industry so Roland’s mom won’t make him move to Ottawa in search of a better future.

Roland, along with Grandpa Angus, 15-year-old Dulsie, and her father Warren, will create a sea monster. And they do—through spreading rumours and building an actual “Fogopogo” for the townspeople’s “sightings”.

The story is told in the first person with evocative descriptions like this one:

I … squoodged the sleep-sand out of my eyeballs with the sides of my fists. (p. 3)

And observations like this one:

The idea that had been sneaking around the basement of my imagination jumped up and smacked me directly between the eyes. (p. 30)

This is a fun novel, heartwarming in places, and with plenty of humour. It also has plenty of depth, which, sadly, makes for a more realistic ending than I’d hoped. But the characters are delightful, and Roland discovers new layers to these people he’s grown up with and thinks he knows.

I heartily recommend Sinking Deeper for young adult readers and adults who are still in touch with their 12-to-14-year-old selves. Sinking Deeper was nominated for the Silver Birch and Hackmatack Awards.

Steve Vernon is the author of four collections of Maritime ghost stories, the children’s picture book Maritime Monsters, and more. He and his publisher, Nimbus, are local to me, but I heard of this book through a blog giveaway (and won!) You can learn more about Steve Vernon at his blog and on Facebook.

[Review copy won from Polilla Writes.]

4 thoughts on “Review: Sinking Deeper, by Steve Vernon

  1. Steve Vernon

    Reblogged this on YOURS IN STORYTELLING… and commented:
    There’s a brand new review up for my Silver Birch and Hackmatack award nominated novel SINKING DEEPER.
    SINKING DEEPER is available in both Kobo and traditional trade paperback. If you hanker for a journey into the very heart of storytelling – why don’t you pick up a copy of SINKING DEEPER today?

  2. Lynn A. Davidson

    Great review, Janet. It always is interesting to me how different people can review the same book and come up with different ways of telling about it.
    Steve wrote a fun book, well worth adding to one’s library. 🙂

    1. Janet Sketchley

      I find the same thing about reviews, Lynn. It’s fun to see how different people will present it. And if one appreciates the book and another doesn’t, it can almost sound like two different books.

      I didn’t realize you were a fellow Nova Scotian! Perhaps we’ll connect somewhere along the way.


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