Review: The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie

abyssThe Abyss Surrounds Us
By: Emily Skrutskie
Publisher: Flux
Published: Feb. 8, 2016
Genre: GLBT YA Fantasy


For Cassandra Leung, bossing around sea monsters is just the family business. She’s been a Reckoner trainer-in-training ever since she could walk, raising the genetically-engineered beasts to defend ships as they cross the pirate-infested NeoPacific. But when the pirate queen Santa Elena swoops in on Cas’s first solo mission and snatches her from the bloodstained decks, Cas’s dream of being a full-time trainer seems dead in the water.

There’s no time to mourn. Waiting for her on the pirate ship is an unhatched Reckoner pup. Santa Elena wants to take back the seas with a monster of her own, and she needs a proper trainer to do it. She orders Cas to raise the pup, make sure he imprints on her ship, and, when the time comes, teach him to fight for the pirates. If Cas fails, her blood will be the next to paint the sea.

But Cas has fought pirates her entire life. And she’s not about to stop.



Cas has been helping raise and train Reckoners (genetically engineered sea monsters) since she was a kid. The day has finally come for her to test her skills and accompany a cruise ship with her Reckoner to keep pirates at bay and the people aboard the cruise safe. It should be an easy job but something goes wrong and before she knows it, her Reckoner is dead and she’s a prisoner on a pirate ship. Not only that but her only ticket to survival is training a Reckoner pup into being a killing machine for the pirates.

The Abyss Surrounds Us starts off really strong. We are shown the bond and connection between Cas and her Reckoner, Durga. I mean, here’s this massive turtle sea monster and it’s so gentle with Cas. You see the bond between the two of them and the trust they have for one another. Then to see the Reckoner flip switches and charge at an oncoming pirate ship and become the monster it really is was pretty interesting. Then Cas gets captured and you follow along while Cas struggles with what she has to do. It’s been ingrained on her that the Reckoners are to protect others from pirates, and yet here she is training one to fight for them. Add onto that the fact that the Captain tasks a teenage girl who’s Cas’ age to be her guardian, which inevitably turns to friendship, and then more… yeah. Let’s just say Cas has a lot going on.

However, the story did start to lag a bit at times. It was going strong and then just started to slow down at parts while Cas trained Bao. There’s a lot of resentment on her end towards the bestie but at the same time, she can’t help her instinctive protectiveness of him. While the training portions were interesting to read about, I feel like some of that time could have been spent building a bond between Cas and Swift. I could see them having a friendship but I didn’t believe their love for each other was real. I mean, I would have liked to have seen more time with the two of them getting to know each other. As it stood, I feel like Cas had more of a bond with Bao than with Swift.

One thing is for certain though, there are quite a few gory scenes in this book. I mean, after all, it’s a story about a massive sea monster that’s trained to take out ships. So, suffice to say, there are a few battles that get pretty suspenseful. Not to mention there’s a part where Bao eats a human. So, while there isn’t a lot of adult content in the way of language or intimate scenes, they do get a bit bloody. Which… I loved!

The Abyss Surrounds Us is a great sci-fi read. I mean, how could it not be, there’s genetically engineered sea monsters and pirates! I just wish the romantic aspect was a bit more solidified because I feel like that could have been amazing. Hopefully in the next book Cas and Swift are able to connect a bit more. Either way, I cannot wait to read the second half of Cas’ story and see where these turn of events take her.


1favepart“The fourth rocket hits her head.
I’m five years old and sharing a kiddie pool with a newly hatched Reckoner pup. I’m eight, standing on her back for the first time. I’m thirteen, and the only refuge from my first breakup is in floating alongside her, holding onto the ridge above her eye where my hand fits perfectly.
I’m seventeen years old, and I can do nothing but watch as Durga’s this blood paints the sea.”


4 Thoughts on “Review: The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie

  1. Can’t say I’ve read one like this before, I’m intrigued, though!

  2. This does sound fun and a great start to a new series. I mean, c’mon, a massive turtle sea monster? Heck yeah!

  3. Sea monsters are cool! I don’t think I’ve read one like this. Was the science part too hifalutin?

  4. This sounds interesting, Kristin. I don’t see many books set in the water like this…sea monsters? Hmm… I’m glad you liked it overall despite the lagging periods. Nice review!

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