The Devil in the Deep Blue Sea

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A review: ARARAT, a novel by Christopher Golden

***Some Spoilers***

Of the three novels that I have read by Christopher Golden, this by far was the strongest in terms of story and characters. I didn’t find the supernatural premise credible. Still, in terms of the creep factor, ARARAT  was very effective.
Cover of the novel, Ararat by Christopher Golden

Cover image of Christopher Golden’s novel, Ararat
from google images

Two bloggers, Adam and Meryam, travel the world and document their adventures.

Adam is American and Jewish. Meryam is English and a lapsed Muslim. Adam wants Meryam to marry him, but senses that Meryam is delaying her decision. Meryam insists that they travel to Turkey and climb Mount Ararat. She’s found evidence; Noah’s Ark has been located. Meryam is determined to lay claim to it by getting there first.

The lovebirds are experienced mountain climbers and they intend to call in some favors. Along the way, Meryam butts heads with the sexism of the local mountain climbers, fellow Muslims who disapprove of her uppity ways. They are skeptical of her conclusions about the Ark. Meryam wastes no time swatting down their macho attitudes. Her grudging guides agree to help her and Adam climb the mountain. In the meantime, others are trying to reach the Ark before she and Adam do.

So far, I’m buying the whole thing.

Meryam and Co gets to the site first. Soon after, her competitors arrive as well, including scientists and a priest, bringing their equipment and expertise.

There it is, Noah’s Ark. But there’s something strange about these ruins. Among the cages and ship cubbyholes, the artifacts and petrified wood, they discover a mummy.

Not your garden-variety, wrapped, foot dragging former Egyptian/Incan/Viking warrior, this one’s pretty strange, with its pointed head and menacing wrapping covered with ancient writing of undetermined origin.

It’s a dried-out devil.

Apparently those forty days and forty nights on Noah’s floating menagerie were action-packed. What was left of humanity was forced to outsmart an evil stowaway.

Say what?

At that point, the premise of a devil tormenting Noah and family as they waited for the floodwaters to subside made my long-ago Catechism lessons float to the front of my brain. I didn’t buy the idea of a devil stowaway on Noah’s Ark. Couldn’t the devil have hidden on some other guy’s ark? Someone saw what Noah was up to as the clouds gathered and put two and two together as the animals, two by two, boarded the Ark.

Let the devil hitch a ride with the other guy.
Regardless, in this novel, the devil was on Noah’s Ark. The plot continues with “the devil made me do it.”

Who’s got the devil in him and who’s the next victim and where’s the devil now?

I did like the ending.

It was a surprise and yet tied everything together. The characters had some depth. I wish I knew more about them. Adam’s childhood reflections helped define him. Meryam was unlikeable, but I did develop an understanding and sympathy for her.

Like the other two novels by Christopher Golden that I’ve read, the action sequences of ARARAT were written well and were suspenseful. However, like the other two (SNOWBLIND and DEAD RINGERS), the supernatural underpinnings were so flimsy that they threatened my suspension of disbelief. Reading these was like enjoying a tasty meal that gives you heartburn.

Anyway, I recommend ARARAT. It’s a satisfying read.

If you enjoy novels that deliver a good scare with well-drawn characters, check out books by Christopher Golden. But keep the Tums handy.

 

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