Rivers are mystical places; twisting veins of life and death that cut into the land, carving their own path wherever they like. Magic can happen on them, but they can also transport us to darker places downstream, somewhere we don’t want to go, but are carried there regardless.
Deep like the River could’ve quiet easily been another hillbilly horror of modern civilisation versus the creeping horror of buckteeth in the undergrowth, but manages to transcend the (Wo)man vs nature genre and be something much more, something almost otherworldly.
Waggoner gives us two characters with little introduction and plunges them to the strange scenario of finding a screaming infant on the bank of the river, giving the tale a biblical feel from the get go. But things get curiouser and curiouser as they decide to take the baby to safety, but soon find themselves under threat from something lurking behind the cover of the trees.
From here, the pressure gradually increases with each turn as the safety of the foundling is challenged by threats from the shore and the river itself, all leading towards a shocking and unexpected finale.
Tim Waggoner has created an exemplary piece of American fiction, which feels like a missing episode of The Twilight Zone in its delivery. Atmospheric, brooding and pressurised to the point where you feel it could explode on any page.