I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Maiden by Ward Nerdlo
Published by Amazon Digital Services LLC - KDP Print US on October 12, 2021
Genres: Horror, LGBTQ+
Source: Author, NetGalley
Buy on Amazon
A MAIDEN VOYAGE...The Pepper Kay is no stranger to the open seas, but now she has a new captain: God. His maiden voyage aboard the newly-acquired vessel will be operated by a crew greener than seaweed. With a reputation like God's, they were all he could find.
NO MAN'S WATER...The Pepper Kay and her greenhorn crew, captained by God and his shady deckboss Nash, voyage into the brutal unknown of the Bering Strait in search of Dungeness crab. But, when a storm rolls in and the crew hauls from the depths an impossibility, something ripped from the pages of nautical folklore, tensions mount and the crew separates into factions: good versus evil.
THOSE WHO DWELL IN DARKNESS...Nash has plans for their newest catch, plans God is not a part of, and the deckboss will wade through blood and chum before he allows his goal to be blocked. As the crew dwindles, laid low one by one, the remaining shipmates must faceoff against not only the human evil of Nash, but something much, much older.
Maiden is like a bullet to the chest. The characterisation and the atmospheric and nightmarish landscape really does want to eat you whole. This is my first discovery of the writing of TC Parker & Ward Nerdlo but I’m going to read both authors’ back catalogue as soon as I can. The raw veracity of the storyline and the strength of the characterisation reminds me both of Barker and King with some Ketchum thrown in for good measure. It’s a writing duo that will leave a lasting impression on the brain.
Gritty and dark, Maiden introduces us to characters that are both morally grey and ones that are shaped by traumatic events of their past. However, the captain, God takes them on, gives them a clean slate. He’s not judgemental but he does run a tight ship. He wants the Pepper Kay’s maiden voyage to go without a hitch. He hires Nash – the worst of the worst, Sam, Jordan, and Charlie. Although God has hired Nash before the other three are relatively green when it comes to seafaring so it’s delightful to see how that plays out as the crabbing boat goes further into the abyss.
Right straight to it – I hated Nash with all the passion of one hundred fiery suns. Although that was the author’s intention, I was taken aback by how much he affected me. He is a deplorable human being. He’s messy, he doesn’t wash, he only sees women fit for two purposes – sex and cooking his meals. He will take what he wants from them by any means – violence especially gets him off and not in a mutual pain and pleasure fashion. There isn’t anything redeemable about him at all – by the end, I wanted to stick something sharp in him, he is written brilliantly.
The first few chapters of Maiden blew me away and transported me from a wee house in Scotland out to the deepest depths of the ocean. Being stuck out there would be my worst nightmare. The mermaid element of the story was eye-popping. Forget Disney’s Ariel, this is the shit that nightmares are made of. I was addicted to the author’s very precise writing style and soon the minutes turned to hours, and I had consumed the story whole. I was curious to how Charlie and the others would deal with Nash’s sadistic actions whilst still juggling the remnants of her past. Things escalated quickly and so did my need for more.
Maiden brings together two authors who together are at their twisty and depraved best. A clammy, atmospheric, and emotive story, it’s supremely audacious in its storytelling.