Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book
Rate this book
Aphra Marsh, descendant of the People of the Water, has survived Deep One internment camps and made a grudging peace with the government that destroyed her home and exterminated her people on land. "Deep Roots" continues Aphra’s journey to rebuild her life and family on land, as she tracks down long-lost relatives. She must repopulate Innsmouth or risk seeing it torn down by greedy developers, but as she searches she discovers that people have been going missing. She will have to unravel the mystery, or risk seeing her way of life slip away.

352 pages, Kindle Edition

First published July 10, 2018

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Ruthanna Emrys

21 books446 followers

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
342 (32%)
4 stars
442 (42%)
3 stars
205 (19%)
2 stars
46 (4%)
1 star
6 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 181 reviews
Profile Image for carol..
1,576 reviews8,232 followers
February 26, 2019
The title captures it perfectly; quiet, deep, thoughtful. Well, yes, there are multiple dimensions and worlds, and horrors from the night, and a smattering of G-men who are paranoid the Russkies might get their hands on powerful weapons before the Americans do. There's also questions of families, of bloodlines, of spiritualism and of living one's own life. It is very much a timely and yet otherworldly book.

Narrative is primarily in first person, that of Aphra, one of the last remaining full-blooded people of the water. She and her brother, Caleb, are hoping to find other 'mixed-blood' relatives who might be persuaded to rejoin them at Innsmouth and rebuild their race, inasmuch as it is possible. However, there are short page or two interruptions that contain first person accounts from one of the other characters. They bring another perspective to the situation, and occasionally add a scene in which doesn't have Aphra in it. In some cases this humanizes other characters; in others, it might cement the reader's dislike of the character.

Setting is New York City, which was intriguing. I like Emry's word-smithing. Focus-wise, it contains a nice balance of description, rumination and dialogue, although tilts perhaps slightly higher to the rumination side.

"Spector straightened, shook his head, and led us down to the subway station. Tiled walls created an echoing cave of footsteps and muddled conversation, but the crowd was sparser. I was relieved to see signs forbidding cigarettes and pipes; my throat still stung after the ride from Boston. Even so, the platform air was a stew: half-spoiled food, urine, sweat, faded perfumes and musks. It cloyed and teased, wavering curtains of rot blowing aside for a moment to reveal hints of lust and roses."

Ultimately, I found it very interesting and immersive. These were books I wanted to sit down and read without interruption, not because of the suspense, exactly, but because I wanted to fully sink into the world. I read when I had time and awakeness to pay attention.

Miscellaneous thoughts of advice:

No, it's not a horror-thriller.

No, you don't have to know Lovecraft, although you might appreciate some of the nods to the Lovecraftian worlds. As Emrys notes in her 'thank you,' a couple of her ideas capitalized on previous authors in the Lovecraft universe.

Yes, you really should have read Winter Tide before this one. It is very much a continuation. I'd say the two books together are a duology, and feel like the ending in this made for a satisfactory conclusion.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,109 followers
May 16, 2018
I really enjoyed this novel, but let's be real here: this isn't your average Cthulhu monster novel full of mystery and intrigue and reveals that turn your hair white in disbelief. There aren't even 1d6 investigators to throw into the open maw of a multitentacled AND multidimensional immortal beastie!

But there are multitentacled and multidimensional immortal beasties, ghouls, Deep Ones, halfbreeds and Creatures of Air. Not to mention strange boxes, a focus on books, legacy, and the ultimate fate of mankind. I mean, the whole thing that comes with a Cthulhu tale is the realization that we're insignificant specks of poop in a disturbed nightmare of a dead but sleeping god. Of *course* our fates are up in the air!

But that's where we take our tale out of the norm and place it firmly in the hands of a nuanced and careful character who has been locked away in a concentration camp thanks to her own country, who only wants to read and preserve her culture, who had suffered a massacre of almost all her people on her home soil in Innsmouth.

And she's a monster. An immature Deep One. Who likes books and just wants to be left alone. But thanks to the FBI and her folks under the sea and a nightmare of diplomacy with other Outsiders that reckon diplomatic negotiations in terms of 50 thousand years, she's thrown right into a tangled tentacular soup trying to protect the flies (that's us humans) with the super-technologically-advanced multidimensional space-traveling immortals that WE call Lovecraftian horrors.

The premise and deep exploration of characters and processes and reveals -- including dreamwalking, magics, and threats from well-meaning gods that think that consuming us is a proper way to preserve us forever --is a perfect delight.

It is NOT a humorous tale, however. So fans of Stross' Laundry Files should be forewarned. It is, however, philosophical, ethical, and it tries to answer all the questions about what constitutes MONSTERS. No one is at fault, but the power differentials are immense... and even the flies can sting.

I'm perfectly on board for reading this series until the end of time. :) It's deep, clever, and monstrous. :)
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
3,005 reviews10.6k followers
July 20, 2018
Aphra Marsh's quest of resettling Innsmouth to New York, where her confluence runs into a snag: two factions of Outer Ones!

I enjoyed Winter Tide quite a bit so I pre-ordered this. Oddly enough, I was approved for an ARC on Netgalley AND a friend gave me the ebook as a birthday gift on the day it shipped. The stars were right that day.

Anyway, Aphra Marsh's goal of repopulating Innsmouth brings her to New York. She discovers a family with Innsmouth blood only to find the son has joined a cult led by a group of Outer Ones, aka The Mi-Go, aka The Fungi from Yuggoth. Arpha Marsh and her friends are caught in the middle of two rival factions with humanity's fate in the balance.

As with Winter Tide, there's a lot to enjoy here. Ruthanna Emrys takes some Lovecraftian concepts and fleshes them out, taking them away from Lovecraft's fear of the unknown roots. The Mi-Go are a lot more than one-dimensional monsters in this tale, given three (or more, if you want to get non-Euclidean about it) dimensions. The ghouls are also fleshed (heh) out quite a bit, given something of a culture.

The characters are a far cry from Lovecraft's, not falling to pieces with the first brush with the unknown, probably because all of them are part of the unknown to some degree. Charlie is gay in an era where it's nowhere near as acceptable as today and also studies magic. Aphra is one of the last of the Deep Ones. Catherine was host to a Yith. Audrey has something different in her heritage.

The jaunts to the Dreamlands and the trek into the Outer Ones' mine were cool set pieces. The magic system is one of the things I like the best in this series. Magic isn't free and takes its toll. Aphra's learning quite a bit but isn't coming through unscathed by any means.

As I've said many times before, I like the stuff inspired by the works of HP Lovecraft more than the works themselves. Ruthanna Emrys' humanized Lovecraftian fiction is some of the best out there. Four out of five stars.
Profile Image for ✨Bean's Books✨.
648 reviews2,926 followers
September 29, 2018
IDK maybe I had to read the first one but this book just did not blow my skirt up. I found it extremely difficult to read and follow the storyline. like I said maybe I should have read the first one first. This one was a bail for me.
Profile Image for Richard Derus.
2,981 reviews1,991 followers
September 30, 2019
That was satisfying. More later.
Real Rating: 3.75* of five

The Publisher Says: Aphra Marsh, descendant of the People of the Water, has survived Deep One internment camps and made a grudging peace with the government that destroyed her home and exterminated her people on land. "Deep Roots" continues Aphra’s journey to rebuild her life and family on land, as she tracks down long-lost relatives. She must repopulate Innsmouth or risk seeing it torn down by greedy developers, but as she searches she discovers that people have been going missing. She will have to unravel the mystery, or risk seeing her way of life slip away.

My Review: Second novel in what I devoutly hope will be an ongoing exploration of the Lovecraftian (or Cthulhu) Mythos by QULTBAG Author Emrys; this time it's the Summer Solstice, so we're six months after the events of Winter Tide. The writing is, as always, luxurious and replete with the most pleasurably unexpected moments of character definition:
Neko’s familiar dreams lay open above me. Twists of color, scattered images: buildings, imagined cities, the people on the subway. She twitched among incomplete ideas. They spilled over the edges of everyday reality, coloring directions that she wasn’t able to travel. (Aphra is speaking of her Nisei internee "sister" from the camps.)

He separated his hands, unraveling finger from finger. (Ron Spector, gay FBI agent, is described here. He is a man torn and mended one too many times.)

A pale man, gangling in a tweed jacket, walked hunched as if against blistering wind, arms tight across his chest. He caught sight of an awning marked in Chinese characters and shuddered, hurrying on. (Lovecraft cameo! And bloody well perfect!)

In every case, Author Emrys makes this kind of observation completely without fuss or fanfare. These are the characters, the behaviors and thoughts are theirs; no need to make a song and dance about it, this is what that person would do/say/feel. I trust Author Emrys implicitly to tell me what I need to know when it is most helpful for me to know it. This is a characteristic of all of her writing that I've read. It's why I will buy and read more of her stories as and when they come out.

The Mythos itself is replete with amazing, juicy weirdnesses like the Mi-Go, or as the Deep Ones call them "meigo," betentacled crustaceany Outer Ones whose corporeal presence in out tediously limited and limiting 4D spacetime isn't remotely complete; entire segments of the creatures exist in dimensions we cannot access with our sensory equipment. Here's one image of the beings, slightly off from what Author Emrys's evocation of them summons in my brain but better than trying to word-paint them for you (or spoil the book's amazing evocation!) so you can get some traction on where this story *is*:

The Outer Ones are repugnant to Aphra, our main character; they aren't right, the way she knows that she herself isn't right to "People of the Air" like thee and me. But they are practically speaking immortal, unlimited by mere 4D spacetime's demands, and so vastly more intelligent than merely mortal Humanity; they have developed a (strange) moral code they adhere to, they are very much creatures of deep philosophical thought:
Doesn’t Nyarlathotep tell even you to ask the most dangerous questions, and travel as far as you need, wherever you need, to find the answers?
(Nyarlathobuddha, sounds like to me.)

To accept, without trying to change, the errors of the universe. Worse, though, to let our haven enforce the illusion that the universe can always be altered. Architecture as debate. Very much my thrice-mate’s style. (Spoken by one of the Outer Ones allied with Aphra about the leader of the Outer Ones's opposition.)

We seek the civilizations capable of living with difference, who can look on the vast and variable universes without fear, who can recognize wisdom wherever it’s found.

This, then, is the heart of the Outer Ones's need in our dimension: They are learning about us for their own purposes, not quite like the Yith, those truly immortal and utterly amoral scholars and recorders in the Archive of the entire body of knowledge that all beings in all dimensions have accumulated:
They boast of all they’ve learned, but write nothing down and call their work finished when all they’ve done is talk. They see everything and learn nothing; they are an embarrassment to Nyarlathotep.

The Mi-Go need something. This is value, for them, created value that pleases Nyarlathotep. The Yith? As we learned last book, and as several of Aphra's confluence (her metaphor for created family, logical as opposed to biological family) continue to wrestle with the aftermath of in this story, they aren't interested in what the knowledge they are collecting is, they are only determined to collect it, however and wherever they can, consequences be hanged. Which is why Winter Tide took place in Arkham and at Miskatonic University; and now that the Outer Ones are the opponents, where better to acquire truly useful knowledge than New York City?

Author Emrys agrees with me. She celebrates the very things that make this my home:
New York is full of immigrants and the United States is used to taking them in—we may be able to help you.

The city’s rhythm was constant when I paid it mind, but fickle in its effects. It could buoy me with excess energy, then wear me out a moment later with the pace of its million heartbeats.

Outside, the breeze brought relief: still rich with sweat and trash, but topped with the remnant of sugared pastry and the homesick scent of hot dogs.

New York, for all its height and humanity, was a breath from the ocean, and would pass in a geological instant.

Gigantically and brobdingnagianly replete with differences and conflicts and all the other things that vastly increase a culture's store of knowledge and wisdom, New York is the perfect place for the Outer Ones to set up shop! Add in the borning Cold War, the incredible postwar economic boom, and the seaport...well! I ask you! What better stewpot, pressure cooker, percolator of a place to locate a spy ring! Which is what the Outer Ones are...their internal factions can't agree whether to continue to passively watch Humanity boil itself or, out of deep savior complex fantasy needs, to intervene and "help"/force us to behave:
We needed Nnnnnn-gt-vvv’s passivist faction to reassert their influence and to hold sway over what their species did on Earth.

But Aphra and Company need to adjust their prickly, offended sensibilities to the Outer Ones's very real intent to help fellow creatures on a path to self-destruct:
You think we don’t understand family, but we do. We recognize many kinds of family, many kinds of connections that matter. We understand duties beyond obedience, and loyalty that can transcend species. We’re not the demons you think, tempting children away from the safe shadow of the gravestone. We serve a greater purpose too.

But help ain't help when it ain't asked for, is it. And that is where the whole rushing, roaring climax of the story leads us: What help are we willing to ask for? And what price offering to help a species that, in the main, wants to vomit when your pandimensional person enters its members's frames of reference?

Good times.

The attentive will recall that I gave Winter Tide four and a half stars two years ago. Then the attentive will cast their eyes upon my less-than-four-stars rating for this book. Then consider the warbles of pleasure in this story and its writing, its very universe, that have occupied me for over a thousand words. "What gives, Papaw?" the attentive will ask.

Freddy and Frances, excess baggage; S'vlk, Obed Marsh, Catherine Trumbull, and Shelean; not one of these characters has a hope in hell of making a lasting impression on the reader. I have read this book twice, a year apart. That was deliberate and calculated. I wanted to be absolutely sure I felt that I was fair and reasonable in my annoyance and subsequent chastisement of almost a whole star's docking. (I mean, it's not like Author Emrys will be hurt and dismayed about my review or like there'll be any kind of backlash; but it's an article of faith with me that I should behave online the way I would in person and I'm always quick to praise and deliberate in disappointment.)

The extra characters add little, detract much, and cost a great deal of forward momentum. The fact is that I'm always shifting gears, like driving a five-speed sports car up Lombard Street in San Francisco during rush hour. The issue grows and becomes very distracting by halfway through the book. I want the urgency of Winter Tide to continue, and with the immense broadening of this story, it does not.

I did not want to offer false praise, and I haven't; I did not want to stint on what I feel is merited celebration of Author Emrys's reimagined Mythos, and I do not think that I have; but, in the end and after a year's thought and consideration, I can't help but share Aphra's prayer for Cthulhu's help in her desperately overworked mind's ease:
Ïa, Cthulhu, help me sleep in the shadow of others’ dreams. Teach me patience in the shadow of frustrated desire. Teach me stillness in the shadow of ever-changing threats.
Profile Image for Lindsay.
1,275 reviews227 followers
July 22, 2018
The first book in this series, Winter Tide, introduced a Lovecraftian mythos Earth with a found family where the monsters are just other sorts of people.

Aphra Marsh and her confluence are seeking other humans with connections to the Deep Ones so that they can repopulate Innsmouth before the whole town is swallowed up by developers. On coming to New York they have some success, but also become involved with the FBI again because of increasing activity from the Outer Ones, the meigo. The Outer Ones are in danger of stepping in to manipulate the politics of the Cold War, with potentially disastrous consequences.

These books are wonderful, particularly in their inclusiveness and commentary on moving on from the disasters of the past. They take these themes far beyond things that we struggle with now like race, gender and sexuality into species, reality and horrific elements. The author has a genius for demonstrating that even things like the Mi-go brain canisters actually have an upside while still preserving the visceral horror of the concept. Aphra's love for the Elders of her people never conceals that they're horrific looking fish/frog people with needle sharp teeth. Even ghouls get a sympathetic treatment here.

I will say that this book is very slow and features a lot of talking between large groups of people. This can feel a little clumsy, as when a character who hasn't been part of a conversation for several pages suddenly interrupts with a comment. You're left wondering at times who else is in the room other than the people dominating the conversation and the person who just interjected. The first book was a bit like this too, but this book increases the cast and exacerbates the problem. Still, they're interesting conversations, and the primary way that we see characterization, as there isn't really a lot of other action. To give an explicit example, the final conflict is resolved by .

One final note is that the book ends in a really interesting place. The series could end here and be quite reasonably wrapped up, but I'm really excited by what Innsmouth will look like a few years after this book ends.
592 reviews8 followers
March 5, 2018
I really, really loved the first book in this series, Winter Tide, so when I had the opportunity to read an ARC of Deep Roots, I jumped at the chance. I really enjoyed both books, but was also a bit surprised by how different they were.

In Winter Tide, the plot felt almost secondary to me: what I loved about the book was the character development and the approach to themes of chosen family and how to rebuild one's life. Deep Roots, on the other hand, felt much faster-paced, and the plot seemed to drive it a lot more.

Rather than being a warm story about family and healing, Deep Roots seemed to be a not-entirely-resolved debate about philosophy, identity, and how humanity (and individuals) can and should relate to the size of the universe and the presence of beings and societies incomprehensibly larger, older, and more powerful than us. Not to mention how we need to learn to relate to our own differences: we may all be monsters here, but we're certainly not all the same sort of monster.

That's not to say that the characters in Deep Roots weren't important: they certainly were. I loved getting to visit with Aphra's retinue again, and the addition of flashbacks from other characters' points of view was a wonderful addition. Some of the flashback scenes were incredibly heartwarming: seeing Spector and Charlie first really get to know each other left me strongly wishing my partner was there to hold me. And some of the new characters we met were wonderful as well: I found myself strangely drawn to Audrey's cousin, and I really hope that we see more of her in the future.

Speaking of which, Winter Tide felt like a self-contained stand-alone book. I was quite surprised--but very excited--when I found out a sequel was coming out. The ending to Deep Roots felt a bit less like a satisfactory end to the story, and I really hope that Ruthanna Emrys will write a third book in the series, soon: we need to find out how the changes at the end of this story play out.

The first time I read Winter Tide, I broke down crying at the beauty of the story several times. The first time I read Deep Roots, I don't think I cried at all, but I felt like I shared some of Aphra's pain at discovering more moral and philosophical complexity in a world that she had thought she'd finally gotten her grip back on. I really can't wait to see what the third book makes me feel, even though what I know of the world--ours and that of the Mythos--makes me suspect things won't get easier.
Profile Image for Justine.
1,158 reviews312 followers
August 22, 2018
Although I didn't like the story in this one quite as much as the first, it was pretty close, and this sequel to Winter Tide really is extremely good. Emrys is a wonderfully accomplished writer and I love reading her books as much for that quality as for the stories she tells. I am most definitely on board for the next one.

Profile Image for Kam.
413 reviews34 followers
April 15, 2018
What I find most interesting about this particular pattern of themes and the way they emerge in the novel is that the author presents a potential solution to a very real problem. We all want the world to be a better place. We want to vanquish oppression and fear, and be really, truly free. But in order to do that, we first need to be open and honest with the people around us about who we are and what we are, while at the same time being accepting of those differences. However, to get to that point, we need to work at it, because that’s just how the world works: nothing of true value can be had for free. We cannot simply wish a better world into being, nor can we start from scratch. We have to work with what we have – and since this imperfect, uncaring world is all we’ve got, we might as well start here, with what we can change: ourselves.

Full review here: https://wp.me/p21txV-FB
Profile Image for Matthew Galloway.
1,038 reviews33 followers
March 11, 2018
Emrys continues to write beautifully about a diverse cast of characters and cosmic horrors that are much more "human" than we'd expect from their appearance. I loved and the exploration of what an "I'm right" -- with no room for discussion -- type group mentality can do and the problems they can generate. Really, Emrys explores the mental states of so many different kinds of people and how those can clash or meld so well. I think she may write the most nuanced characters I've read in fantasy recently. Once again, the story is slower than some may like, but I actually count that a strength of the novel. The pacing allows the relationships to be explored thoroughly, and I think that's exactly what makes these novels so good. I dearly hope the series continues for a long while.
Profile Image for C.T. Phipps.
Author 81 books601 followers
January 4, 2019

DEEP ROOTS is the sequel to Ruthanna Emrys' WINTER TIDE and THE LITANY OF EARTH. It is a story set in a "perspective flip" Cthulhu Mythos. The basic idea behind the Innsmouth Legacy is the Cthulhu Mythos is not actively hostile but simply different. The Deep Ones are just another race of human beings, the Mi-Go are busy-bodies who want to make humans better, the Yithians (actually the Yithians are much worse). It moves the setting from the realm of horror into that of science fiction.

I don't mind authors doing this sort of thing and actually think more people should. Basically, there's no point to trying to ape H.P. Lovecraft's prose but much benefit to adding your own spin on his universe. It's why I enjoy the works of Brian Lumley's TITUS CROW, Peter Cline's 13 and THE FOLD, Matthew Davenport's ANDREW DORAN series, and David Hambling's HARRY STUBBS series. I admit, I'm biased since I also wrote CTHULHU ARMAGEDDON with this sort of thing in mind.

The premise of the Innsmouth Legacy is the adventures of Aphra Marsha. Aphra is one of the only two survivors of the camps where the population was herded after the events of THE SHADOW OVER INNSMOUTH. This idea was actually done before with THE DOOM THAT CAME TO INNSMOUTH by McNaughton but his story took a traditional view that the Deep Ones, victim of a horrible crime or not, were still an evil cult. This group of Deep Ones is entirely innocent of the blood libel they have been accused of.

The first book had Aphra exploring Miskatonic University and the Innsmouth ruins while dueling with both the Yith and FBI. The sequel takes Aphra and her brother Caleb on a quest to New York (as well as Red Hook) in order to find missing members of the Innsmouth Legacy (a.k.a "mistborn"). Along the way, they encounter the Mi-Go who provide Aphra with a different perspective on the religion she's grown up revering.

I really enjoyed this novel and hope Ruthanna Emrys continues to write books in the setting. While it's a bit iffy to find so many of the Mythos creatures made harmless and good intentioned, she still manages to make some of them quite terrifying. The Yith (also the Elder Race in this version) are also a people she reveres but this book highlights what a vicious and evil race their actions actually make them to being. The K'nyanians (from "The Mound") are also revealed to be even worse than Lovecraft portrayed them.

I also like how Ruthanna Emrys plays with the themes of prejudice as Aphra Marsh proves to be outstandingly bigoted and close minded against the Mi-Go. The prospect of defying fate, of exploring the galaxy, and many things we tend to think of as positive are all things that horrify her. She can't get into the mindset of someone who doesn't view the Earth's oceans as the "be end all" of existence.

I also like the follow up from events in WINTER TIDE with the apexia of Mary, Professor Turnbull struggling to get her life back in order, and Audrey's love of Aphra that she remains oblivious too. It seems very likely Aphra is asexual with no interest in mating beyond reproduction and that's something you don't see very often in books.

In conclusion, I really like this story and think fans of Lovecraft will enjoy it if they don't mind switching genres.

Profile Image for Seth Skorkowsky.
Author 21 books321 followers
August 10, 2018
I really enjoyed Book 1. I'd looked forward to Deep Roots for a while, and maybe my excited anticipation stained my opinion of it. I just didn't like it that much.
Emrys has a commanding knowledge of the Lovecraftian Mythos. I love her interpretation of the world and what she brings to make it her own. Deep Roots explores the Mi-Go, and she does a fantastic job describing and showing their alien bodies and mindset. She's brilliant.
That being said, Deep Roots just didn't hold my interest that well. There is a lot of things in here and many felt like they only existed to cause needless tension or world-building where they weren't really needed. I never fell into the story the way I did with Winter Tide and several times I found myself thinking, "Just get on with it." Parts felt too drawn out and then others felt too rushed. There are many fantastic ideas here, but they just didn't click with me.
I will continue the series, but I probably won't jump on Book 3 the way I jumped onto Book 2.
Profile Image for wishforagiraffe.
222 reviews49 followers
August 7, 2019
This is a great follow-up to Winter's Tide. Aphra and her found family are in New York, so we get a chance of scenery and some good historical glimpses. The stakes are a bit higher than the previous book, but the connections are stronger and even the other FBI team who were mostly antagonists before have motivations fleshed out and become more sympathetic.

Still plenty of creepy Lovecraftian stuff to be going on with, and I'm not actually sure whether I find the ghouls or the Outer Ones creepier.

Perfect if you want found families, conflict resolution based on diplomacy rather than strength, or a diverse historic fantasy.

Review copy via Net Galley.
Profile Image for LAPL Reads.
559 reviews171 followers
July 31, 2018
In recent years H.P. Lovecraft and his works have become increasingly problematic. His personal views on race permeate his stories resulting in fiction that is, at best, challenging to enjoy for many readers. As a result, there currently tend to be three approaches regarding Lovecraft’s fiction: those who love it, those who hate it, and those who choose simply not to read it. But there is now a fourth group of readers that is developing: those that are fascinated with the works of authors like Ruthanna Emrys, who use Lovecraft’s mythos as jumping-off points to create incredibly thoughtful, enjoyable, and inclusive new novels. Novels like Winter Tide and Deep Roots.

“The Shadows over Innsmouth” is the only work by H.P. Lovecraft that was published as a book prior to his death in 1937. It is the story of a college student who, while touring New England, discovers a small fishing town, Innsmouth, that is in decline. Innsmouth has its secrets that, as the story progresses, become increasingly personal for the protagonist. In Winter Tide, the story of Innsmouth and its inhabitants continues. Starting on the other side of the continent in San Francisco in 1949, readers are introduced to Aphra Marsh. She and her brother Caleb are the sole survivors of the citizens of Innsmouth. In 1928, the town’s entire population was rounded up by the U.S. Government and secreted away to camps in the southwest deserts. In 1942, when the U.S. government required a place to relegate Japanese-Americans due to unfounded fears about their loyalty during World War II, it sent them to those camps as well. After their mother was removed from the camp for experimentation, Aphra and Caleb were informally adopted by a Nikkei family within the camp. Upon the release of Japanese-Americans from the camps, Aphra and Caleb went with their new family and struggled to find their place in a world that had sought to destroy them and their kind. But now the same government that destroyed her family, home, and culture needs her help. The FBI has learned that the Russians may be experimenting with the use of magical texts, some possibly from Innsmouth, to gain an upper hand in the developing Cold War, and Aphra Marsh may hold the key to uncovering what the Russians are doing and how to stop them.

While Emrys draws liberally from the Cthulhu horror mythos to establish and build a new world, Winter Tide and its sequel Deep Roots are not horror novels. Instead they are explorations of identity, culture, family, both by blood and those we create ourselves, and one’s responsibility to their ancestors. All of this is presented with a nice dose of magic and discovery, and executed with a wonderful sense of the period in which the novel is set. While there are “monsters” in the pages, they are not as monstrous as they may have once seemed during Lovecraft’s lifetime. And, repeatedly, the most heinous actions taken during the course of both books are those by humans (and tragically, often those who are acting as representatives of the U.S. Government).

Attempting to compare fictionalized racism with fictionalized races/species, and with actual documented racist actions against people of color, seems fraught with peril. This is especially true when referencing the reprehensible treatment of Japanese-Americans during WWII. Emrys, however, deftly walks a fine line, never straying into unnecessary sensationalism nor trivializing actual historical events. In her acknowledgements she refers to the research done to portray the actual events involved with the Japanese-American internment and gives recognition to actor George Takei’s autobiography To The Stars, which includes his child’s-eye description of being taken from his home and sent to the camps (which was clearly a model for Aphra’s fictional experiences). The result is the depiction of a second, earlier internment that is told so compellingly that it all seems to compound the affronts, rather than minimizing the significance of what actually happened.

Emrys also demonstrates that although they were often unseen or ignored, the pre-Cold War US population was just as diverse as it is today, describing the extreme measures that people took to blend in or go unnoticed, often simply hiding in plain sight.

Winter Tide and Deep Roots are complex and compelling works of fantasy that help illuminate not only where we’ve been, but also where we are. While they are based on the works of a known racist, these books feature characters that are diverse and inclusive. It is entirely possible that H.P. Lovecraft would have hated them, and that could be a very good thing.

Readers interested in other contemporary novels based on the works of Lovecraft might also want to read:

“The Litany of Earth” by Ruthanna Emrys, which is a short prequel to Winter Tide.

The broken hours by Jacqueline Baker

Carter and Lovecraft by Jonathan L. Howard

Hammers on bone by Cassandra Khaw

Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle

Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

Reviewed by Daryl M., Librarian, West Valley Regional Branch Library
Profile Image for Colin MacDonald.
154 reviews3 followers
June 8, 2023
4.5 stars maybe? It's hard to wow people after the first book in a series, but this is definitely a worthy continuation. I love the depth it brings to reimagining Lovecraft's universe—its beauty, wonder, and horror—and especially the complex meshwork of uneasy alliances, slanderous folktales, visceral repulsion, longstanding vendetta, and anxious near-worship that exists between the various races of eldritch horrors.

This is a sign that I'm getting old, but I also find it a valuable cultural counterweight, and an oasis in these troubled times, to have a story where conflicts are resolved through empathy, knowledge, patience, and compromise, rather than shooting.
Profile Image for Frith.
148 reviews19 followers
July 15, 2018
This series continues to be quiet and lovely and queer and full of genuine moral dilemmas and people on all sides who I want to just all agree so they can all be happy! And there are also blood rituals and eldritch horrors, of course.
Profile Image for Tim Martin.
745 reviews46 followers
January 13, 2019
This was a wonderful follow up to _Winter Tide_, one that was a delightful read. Which is a strange thing to say about any story set in the universe that Lovecraft created, full of powerful beings and unsettling creatures and dark rituals that were never meant to be comforting (something commented upon in the first volume in this series). It was fun to rejoin old friends Aphra Marsh, the immature Person of the Water (aka Deep One, a term not really used in the series), her brother Caleb, and the rest of Spector’s Irregulars, adding some new ones along the way, people comforting and I cared about, again, a strange thing to say about any Lovecraftian story, even those tales Lovecraft himself did not pen, written at the very least in an era with fairly little character development (at least among genre stories) and by an author with a fondness for cursing his characters with insanity, death, or insanity and then death.

Indeed, far from being just a new take on a Lovecraftian universe that includes Cthulhu, viewing the universe as dangerous but also not as completely evil or even always indifferent, with many of its eldritch inhabitants at the very least misunderstood if not at times actually benevolent, Emrys’ view of friendships, of networks of friends, of reaching out and connecting with very different peoples, of, as the title suggests, deep roots, is far from just a highly revisionary take on a Lovecraftian-inspired setting but indeed is integral to understanding the Irregulars and how they function, the role they have to play in the story, the evolution of Aphra’s own life (how rooted is she in the Irregulars, in the United States, to her destiny on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean as mature member of the People of the Water, to history), and the central plot of the story. Excellent thematic writing, some of the best I have seen in genre fiction.

Dare I say it, and I don’t think I am spoiling much if anything by saying this, but Emrys sort of argues that love or at least understanding is the answer and again not as just a highly unusual thing to say in a Lovecraftian setting but as actually vital to the main story itself, the problem that Aphra, Caleb, Audrey, Charlie, and the others have to unravel.

Lots to like about this book, from a further development of the people of the earth and Audrey’s relationship to them to getting to see more people of the water elders (always love them) to a lot of a classic Lovecraftian monster, fully fleshed out and revised as Emrys is fond of doing so, as well as a great 1949 New York City setting, more Cold War intrigue, visiting the Dreamlands, and a fair amount of ghouls. The climax was even better than in the first book, quite exciting and again wonderfully tied into the concept of deep roots, of what anchored both the antagonists and the protagonists to the world (and Aphra in particular). The ending intrigued and I would like to see it followed up on, a whole new adventure for Aphra and her strange family. Though definitely not a humorous tale, there was some decent chuckles in a few sections that I really liked too.
Profile Image for Idzie.
40 reviews18 followers
July 6, 2018
I received a digital ARC courtesy of NetGalley.

I struggled for a while to write a review of this book, because I couldn’t seem to find the words to convey how much depth and heart(break) it contains, the startling realism, the grace with which the author explores the complexity of human (and not-so-human) people.

Picking up some months after the events of Winter Tide (a book you really must read first), Aphra, along with her confluence (a group who work magic together) and friends, has travelled to New York City in search of long lost “mist-blooded” relatives, after horrific acts of genocide perpetrated by the American government left them the only known survivors on land. Soon their search leads them to a group of people dealing with a mythical species from another world, capable of sending disembodied minds on journeys through the stars, and things become a lot more complicated. Government agents, aliens, and of course all of Aphra’s group find themselves struggling to find the best path forward for humanity, when there are some very different ideas about what “best” means.

This is a historical science fiction novel (set in the late 1940’s) that, though it might be based on Lovecraftian mythology, is about as far away from a monster book as you can get. The historical aspect feels breathtakingly possible, a thin veneer of fantasy laid over the bones of past injustice, as all the struggles and prejudices and violence really happened, even if in our reality no ocean-dwelling branch of humanity ever existed,

This is also not a “monster” book because not only is the “other” shown with compassion, but we see the world entirely through the eyes of those who have been pushed to the margins. The cast of main characters, when we move away from Aphra and Caleb’s more mythical origins, are black and gay and Jewish, are women who don’t behave the way women are supposed to, are people who balance on a knife’s edge of respectability. In this installment Aphra remains the primary narrator, but in an added bit of richness we see small glimpses into all the main cast of characters’ mindsets and experiences in the form of short diary entry like segues between chapters, deepening the reader’s understanding of the wider emotional picture.

And though there are some genuinely creepy elements, I wouldn’t really classify it as horror either. It stays firmly on the side of SFF, a unique and tender take on the Lovecraftian source material (the author herself notes wryly in the acknowledgements that her stories would cause some grave-turning for the eponymous writer).

At a time in our own world when the American state is once more talking about mass internment of the “wrong sorts” of people, this story hit me even harder. While in Winter Tide the freshness of loss was still a raw wound for Aphra, and she still seemed somewhat in shock, in Deep Roots she’s really coming to realize the enormity of the reality that nothing will ever be the same again. Not if she finds every single “mist-blooded” human, not if she buys back every house in their former hometown, not even as she’s found a chosen family whose love is a beautiful part of her new world. It’s not that she’s not hopeful or commited--far from it--but there’s also a sense of resignation that hurt for its realness, its truth. An atrocity was committed, a horror that left just two orphan children in its wake, now adults who have no choice but to live and work beside those who were complicit in the destruction of their entire world. There’s rage and bitterness, but also the inevitability of living, still, and living as best you can with the circumstances as they are.

Ruthanna Emrys holds her characters close, telling their stories, fictional though they may be, with dignity and care, a deep respect for the sacredness of a people and religion that never existed. Her writing is lyrical and skilled, and as a reader I’m left rather melancholy, the story lingering in my thoughts for days after I turned the last page. This series is something special, and something too relevant to the age we’re now living in. I think it would have crossover appeal not only to SFF fans, but also readers of historical fiction and literature. Do yourself a favour and read it now.
286 reviews12 followers
April 25, 2020
In the course of Otherwise Award reading, I came across this Cthulhu mythos novel, the kind of thing I would be very unlikely to pick up on my own. I found myself reading the whole thing, long after I knew it wasn’t an award contender. Emrys is trying to tell Lovecraftian stories without the xenophobia and sexism, so she’s telling them from the point of view of Lovecraftian monsters. Again, I haven’t read the first book in the series, so I found the beginning confusing, but I ended up caring about the characters and wanting to know what happened. I love surprising satisfactions.
Profile Image for Jack.
288 reviews22 followers
September 20, 2020
I would like more, please.

There's something so intriguing about lovecrafts mythos, that you can't but wish for more, even with all of his unpleasantness. So, to find novels, two brilliant novels, which bring that to a place where you can talk about found families, and what it means to be family is just something I love completely.

But yes, please more.
Profile Image for Elle Maruska.
232 reviews92 followers
July 19, 2018
I read Winter Tide earlier this year and absolutely loved it; when I finished, I wanted more than anything to be able to rejoin Aphra and her confluence. I was so excited for this book and read it as soon as it appeared on my kindle.

The plot was interesting. I know some will find it slow because there's more talking than doing but I think talking can be just as fascinating, just as compelling if done right and Emrys does it right. She presents characters with wildly different ideas and ideals, and allows conflict to emerge organically rather than through forced set-pieces of fight scenes or battles. I appreciated the introduction of the Outsiders; I think they provide a fascinating contrast to other galactic visitors already present in the series and their presence opens up a host of interesting quandaries for Aphra and her confluence. I liked seeing more of Aphra's Elders, appreciated that despite their distinctly inhuman appearances they are still incredibly, heartbreakingly human.

Also!! I LOVE LOVE LOVE how queer this book is, even queerer than the last one! I love the diversity of the characters, how they are all of different ages, races, sexualities, and experiences. So many fantasy/sci fi books tend to think that they can shoehorn diversity narratives into monster stories without actually including diverse humans but Emrys manages to write diversity among both monsters and humans with respect, dignity, concern, and care.

I think my biggest issue with this book was the lack of focus on the characters other than Aphra. I felt that the storylines of various members of the confluence were placed in a sort of holding pattern where nothing much changed and that was a bit disappointing. I would have loved spending more time with Audrey most of all but I found her sidelined through a large part of the action. I enjoyed the deeper look into Aphra's state of mind, her struggle to reconcile the past and the future, her battle with both outside threats and herself. I love her quiet resolve, her flaws and her courage and her heart. I just wish we were able to see more of the others at the same time.

Overall though, I enjoyed this book very much and I'm super hopeful that there will be more books about Aphra and her family.
683 reviews10 followers
July 28, 2018
Deep Roots is the second volume in Ruthanna Emrys’ fascinating and intensely readable series inspired by the Cthulhu Mythos. These books are told from the perspective of the last on-land members of the sea people who once lived in Innsmouth, before the US government kidnapped and interned them in a concentration camp in the desert where all but two - brother and sister Aphra and Caleb - died from lack of the ocean and the conditions required to make the change to their near immortal sea-dwelling form. Emrys begins from the assumption that everything we think we know about these people is wrong, based on twisted propaganda spread by those who hated and feared them.

In the first novel, Winter Tide, Aphra, who is a student of the ancient magics known to her people (and others), formed a confluence, or chosen family, comprised of an unlikely group of people with the ability for pursuing magic and a commitment to trying to rebuild the land community of the sea people: her brother Caleb; his lover DeeDee, a black woman recruited by the FBI as an informant, seductress and spy; Charlie, a gay man who is Aphra’s friend and student in the magical arts; Neko, the daughter of the Japanese couple who adopted and cared for Aphra and Caleb when when the internment camp they and the few other dying sea people were held in was repurposed to imprison Japanese Americans during WWII; Catherine Turnbull, a mathematician and scholar of magic who had been the host of one of the time-travelling, body-borrowing, and rather arrogant Yith; Audrey, a woman of mixed heritage, part ‘ordinary’ human (the people of the air), part descendent of a third human subgroup, subterranean dwellers called the people of the earth; and, on the periphery of this family, Ron Spector, Charlie’s lover, and an FBI agent working in a branch of the bureau established to investigate magical threats to the USA.

In Deep Roots, Aphra and her confluence have been following leads and rumours of other sea people who may have survived the genocidal actions of the government, ‘mistblooded’ descendants of he few who left the Innsmouth community and married into families of the people of the air. Having learned of a woman, Frances Laverne, and her son Freddie, who live in New York City, they travel to the big city, only to discover that Freddie - who could be Aphra’s only chance to bear a new generation of sea folk - has become involved with a community of Mi-Go and other humans.

Lovecraft’s Mi-Go are, alternatively, the origin of the Abominable snowman myth, or other-dimensional aliens, winged and clawed, technologically advanced, who take human minds and place them in cannisters which they can then transport across space. Emrys has taken the latter description as her starting point. Her Mi-Go - who are more properly referred to as the Outer Ones - see themselves as benefactors, travellers who set up communities on many worlds, recruit followers - or travel-mates, as they refer to them - from the indigenous populations, and offer them the same experiences they themselves spend their lives pursuing, the exploration of and communication with minds across the vastness of space. While the Outer Ones can travel in their own bodies, other races must be separated mind from body in order to travel, their minds placed in devices that the Outer Ones can carry with them as they travel. The process is reversible, but many who join the Outer Ones find themselves less and less inclined to return to physical form.

The Outer Ones have a long and not particularly positive relationship with Aphra’s people, not least because the mind-body separation process is more dangerous to the people of the sea and those who travel with the Outer Ones are likely to be unable to return to their bodies and remain healthy - thus, those lost to the Outer Ones are lost forever. Also, The Outer Ones and the Yith, with whom the people of the sea have a strong and positive relationship, are enemies at a deep philosophical level - the Yith are firm believers in non-interference, the Outer Ones often try to ‘save’ species they fear are on the verge of extinguishing themselves, often by interfering with the political and cultural life of the planet.

Aphra is drawn into contact with the Outer Ones because she hopes to extract Freddie Laverne from their fellowship, seeing him as a possible father for the children she must have fir her race to continue growing. At the same time, the FBI is drawn into the unstable mix because of all the disappearances reported by families of those who have joined the Outer Ones.

Aphra learns that the majority faction among Outer Ones are considering taking action to intervene in human affairs because of the tensions of the Cold War and their fear that the human race will destroy itself. Part of this manipulation involves discrediting Aphra, her confluence, and the sea people with the FBI branch involved with magic and non-human activities - a nit too difficult task, considering the extreme paranoia of the FBI and the existing distrust between the two. Yet the only chance for humanity to maintain control of its own destiny is for Aphra to convince the FBI agents that they must help her in putting the faction that favours non-intervention in charge of the Outer One’ colonies on Earth.

Emrys does a wonderful job of subverting the racist tropes of Lovecraft’s work, while keeping the real sense of potential menace - locating it in the institutions of a racist society instead. The novel ends in an uneasy truce between the surviving sea people and the government, with Innsmouth beginning to live again, though after some degree of compromise with the very people who once destroyed it. So eager for the next installment.
Profile Image for Susan.
4 reviews
January 11, 2019
I read the first book. I was confused at the beginning of this book, and it took a few pages to reconnect characters and plot lines with the previous title. I stuck with it and loved getting back into the Innsmouth story. Aphra Marsh is a perfectly-not-perfect heroine. I relish the way it challenges our sense of who is a monster and who is a friend.
Profile Image for Besha.
177 reviews14 followers
October 14, 2018
Too many characters, too few voices, and if I wanted to listen to a poly family processing I’d still live in in a queer co-op. The Litany of Earth was my favorite story of 2014, and I still find Emrys’s writing beautiful, but it turns out I can only listen to Aphra for so long.
Profile Image for Dave.
61 reviews
January 24, 2019
If you liked the first book in the series, you'll probably like this one too. I sometimes felt like the plot and relationships were forced, but overall I still enjoyed spending time with Aphra.
Profile Image for Alex Can Read.
254 reviews9 followers
July 29, 2018
This review first appeared on Alex Can Read.

The sequel to the stunning Winter Tide, Deep Roots explores more of Lovecraft’s mythos. Aphra and her confluence are on the trail of a mist-blooded relative and find so much more than they expected.

Deep Roots wrestles with so many of the things we wrestle with in our own lives, especially when confronted with our loved ones choosing paths we’d rather they didn’t. How do we believe that they haven’t been coerced? When is it right to let someone go, and when do we cling to them and hope they forgive us at the end? When is it right to walk away, to call someone out, or to ask them to reexamine their deeply held beliefs? Now, more than any other time in the last thirty years, many of us find ourselves wrestling with these questions within our own families as political rhetoric threatens to tear us apart by othering each other into separate camps.

One of the myths that Deep Roots tackles isn’t from Lovecraft’s mythos, but rather from current Western society. Emrys shows us that the idea that “One who has been othered, can’t also be othering” is false. I see the sentiments that “I can’t be racist, I’m black” or “I can’t be a lesbophobe, I’m gay” or “I can’t be a misogynist, I’m a woman” or “I can’t be ableist, I’m also part of a marginalized community” pretty frequently. These aren’t true statements, but I hear variations of them all the time. Deep Roots explores how even groups that have been othered can have and hold othering beliefs about groups, cultures and people not their own. This is why intersectional activism is so crucial. Despite their own experiences being discriminated against Aphra and the Deep Ones hold strong beliefs about the Outer Ones that are explicitly called out as offensive within the narrative. Aphra is forced to rexamine her beliefs in order to navigate the situation at hand.

I am SO glad to get more of Aphra, Neko, Audrey, Charlie, Specter, Dawson and Caleb. Emrys writes them so vividly, the time between books felt like missing friends. Deep Roots felt like opening a letter from someone who had gone on a long trip into a remote place without technology.

I am impatiently waiting for my next letter from the Confluence. I can’t wait to see what they get up to next.

Thank you to Tor.com for providing me with an eARC in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Ann Schwader.
Author 82 books92 followers
December 23, 2019
Ruthanna Emrys returns to her post-Innsmouth -raid America (Winter Tide ) with another Cold War tale featuring Aphra Marsh & her "confluence" of chosen family. What begins as a missing person case in New York becomes a literal bug hunt, as various factions of the flying "fungi from Yuggoth" known as mi-go reveal their determination to save -- or possibly destroy -- humanity. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union may or may not be having similar problems . . . but they do have the Bomb.

It's a detailed and occasionally convoluted adventure, but I enjoyed all the twists & turns. This is character-focused world building with a strong sense of history, though I did occasionally feel as though 21st century social values were cropping up a bit too frequently in this mid-20th century setting. Aphra's confluence is diverse in nearly any way one can imagine (including species), & watching them work together provides much of the plot's tension.

This second book of Emrys' Innsmouth Legacy series definitely did not disappoint, & I'll be ordering the next on Audible with no hesitation. As ever, though, I'd recommend it for those already very familiar with Lovecraft & open to a revisionist view of that Mythos. And please, start with Winter Tide if you haven't already read it.
Profile Image for David Thirteen.
Author 9 books30 followers
January 27, 2020
Aphra Marsh is one of my favorite literary characters, and Ruthanna Emrys (with her hopepunk fiction) has become one of my must-buy authors. Deep Roots builds upon the world begun in Winter Tide. A world where Lovecraft’s monsters are complicated beings misunderstood by the narrow-minded society of 1940s America. Emrys does a wonderful job of driving Aphra’s ongoing quest to restore her people and her culture, while delivering an exciting, contained adventure. The novel is set largely in Manhattan where Aphra and crew are searching for more of her bloodline. But things get sidetracked when they discover alien entities recruiting locals and trying to gain influence with the government. This development expands on the Mythos creatures Emrys has put her spin on and is sure to delight those familiar with Lovecraft. The ending is satisfying and far from simple. It also made me eager for the next installment in this series.
Profile Image for Kate Sherrod.
Author 5 books83 followers
March 4, 2019
A worthy successor to Winter Tide. I love the depth Ernrys gives to this world. The Mi- Go were a great addition to it.

I listened to this as an audio book but I wish I'd gotten it as an ebook. The narrator did a good job differentiating character voices but man, she has some of the harshest consonants I've ever endured especially her sibilants and interdentals. I chose to listen to this one because eye problems are giving me headaches. On several male voices the Ts and Ds were like bullets! This narrator sometimes made them worse. If the story wasn't as good as it was, I would have damned the sunk cost and DNF'd this one.

The book, however, is brilliant.
Profile Image for Donna.
1,050 reviews52 followers
Shelved as 'didnt-finish'
November 13, 2018
I really enjoyed the first book, but couldn't get into this one at all, probably because I haven't reread Winter Tide since its release. I normally don't have this much trouble piecing all a story's secondary characters and their relationships back together. Not sure if that means the book doesn't include quite enough little memory refreshers or if it's more to do with my own lack of concentration lately. Either way, I had to give up for now.

Hopefully I'll remember to try it again at some point, maybe once the series is farther along.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 181 reviews

Join the discussion

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.