Into the Sublime / Kate A. Boorman / Book Review

Four girls go into a cave. Three come out, covered in blood. Two are hysterical. One is ready to talk.

Amelie Desmarais has a story to tell, and she won't cut corners, no matter what the cops want. Part of a now-defunct thrill-seeker group, Amelie and three others planned an adventure to find a secret underground lake known as "The Sublime." Legend says this lake has the power to change things for those who seek it--assuming they make it there alive. Amelie certainly had something she wanted to change. The others, she assumed, did too. 

But as Amelie's story unwinds, nothing is as straightforward as it seems. These girls weren't friends but strangers. Amelie is hardly the thrill-seeking type. And she's definitely covered in somebody's blood. Where is the fourth girl, who didn't return? And who's blood is it?

Is Amelie spinning a tale to hide her own guilt? Or is there really something lurking down in the Sublime?


This book comes with a solid premise, and it is decently executed. But it's not perfect. It's certainly a fun addition to the genre. It's very self-aware and pokes and prods at the conventions it employs. It just isn't scary (which is a problem in a horror thriller like this). 


  • Strong Opening: Is there any better way to start of a thriller than with a body? A washed-up body sets expectations--high expectations--which is especially important in a story like this, a story that does not necessarily need to end with a body. There are many ways this story could unravel, and so having the body front and center in a flash-forward sets up a sense of unease and distrust--and, of course, readerly anticipation. 
  • Journalistic Style: This book flips perspectives and angles, switching from the first-person account that Amelie gives and the more detached, journalistic third-person of the investigators on the scene in the aftermath. That cold, formal style is a good choice. It helps to frame a very subjective narrative in something tangible, concrete, and real. Amelie's story might otherwise be over-the-top and melodramatic, but having that grounding in firm, solid reality sets her high-key story in a brand new light. 
  • Philosophic Horror: This book is rife with name-drops. One of the four girls on this treacherous descent is a horror buff, and she's not afraid to pull out references and point out all the little things they're doing wrong--if, of course, this were like a horror film. But it's not just the philosophy of horror cinema that makes its way into these pages. Real philosophy does as well--as the "sublime" title might point toward. Having this bit of philosophy undergirding the story laces the book with a sense of nihilistic dread which only heightens the overall horror.   


  • Horror Trailer: Are you looking for something unique? Some wholly original, spine-chilling horror? That's not what you're going to get here. This book feels, on some levels, like a horror film trailer--ultra spooky but not ultimately more than that. It's like a tease--all the elements to entice you in but nothing new in the end. Kate A. Boorman's storytelling is great; don't get me wrong. But if new is what you're into, this isn't it. 
  • Slow Progression: Like the cops who get frustrated with Amelie's slow story, readers might feel similarly. Amelie really does string out this story to "tell it from the beginning." It unfolds so, so slowly--maybe too slowly for some readers. Parts of the spooky tale are diminished due to the narrative length alone. 
  • Not Scary: Slow progression plus low plot momentum gets rid of a lot of the spook factor here. It just doesn't feel scary. The storytelling is great--the atmosphere, the characters--but if you're looking for some spooky horror or psychological dread? Well, I just wasn't feeling it here, and you probably won't, either. Which is disappointing in the end. 



Anyone looking for another weekend-trip-gone-wrong story after Kara Thomas's That Weekend will appreciate this new group of teenage hikers. Those who like a self-aware read like Victoria Lee's A Lesson in Vengeance will appreciate the name-drops and genre conventions of this new psycho thriller. 


Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Date: July 26, 2022
Series: N/A
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Note: I was provided with an ARC by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own.


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