Novel: Deep Down by Deborah Coates

The second novel in Deborah Coates’ rural fantasy series about magic, death, and the Upper Midwest, Deep Down (2013) is a terrific follow-up. Having solved the mystery of her sister’s murder, Hallie Michaels — a former soldier whose brief death has enabled her to see ghosts — is at loose ends, trying to figure out her next step in life. Soon enough, though, her South Dakota hometown starts making decisions for her, throwing her in the path of a number of supernatural mysteries. One of them involves shocking history about her sorta kinda boyfriend, Boyd Davies, whose past literally comes back to haunt him. Determinedly, Hallie investigates the strange goings-on, dogged by spirits and supernatural creatures as reality seems to bend and warp around her.

Like Wide Open, Deep Down opens quietly and gradually, her landscape radiating a creepy, offbeat David Lynchian vibe. But ultimately I think this one embraces its fantasy content more firmly, goes bigger with it: harbingers of death, reapers, magic lore, otherworldly dimensions, and more. For me, this was a welcome escalation, and even better the accumulated elements coalesce structurally, propelling the story toward exciting climactic action. Of course, Hallie is as foul-mouthed, resourceful, and likable as ever. A wonderful, highly satisfying sequel.

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