From The Belly, by Emmett Nahill

29 May 2024

The Book

From The Belly
Pages: 284
Age Group: Adult
Published on 31 May 2024
Publisher: Self-published
Genres:
Horror
Available on:

Synopsis:

The whaling vessel Merciful has just made its strangest catch a massive whale containing a still-living man secreted within its stomach lining. Sailor Isaiah Chase is tasked with keeping the enigmatic man alive.

As their relationship grows, a series of accidents, injuries and deaths quickly befall the ship and its crew. Isaiah is plagued by strangely prophetic dreams, even as the crew continues their endless quest for whale oil under the command of an increasingly unhinged captain.

As events spiral further out of control, the mysterious man confesses what Isaiah has begun to the crew of The Merciful has fallen into a cycle of punishment for their greed and destruction. Isaiah must confront the sea's vengeance made flesh, and choose between this new, strange love and the fate of the ship itself.  

My Review

From The Belly is a queer nautical horror novel written by Emmett Nahill, published by Tenebrous Press. The kind of title you could expect from a press that has embraced the weirdness as their main defining point, fusing high sea horror and body horror in company with a compelling and bizarre queer romance that will leave your spine tingling.

The novel is entirely set in the Merciful, a whaling ship in an expedition that most of the sailors hope that will help them to void their debts to the company; under the command of the accurately named captain Coffin, a descendant of a accommodated family who soon shows his contempt to those crewing his ship, making them work until exhaustion. But his greed will be part of what will be unleashed when a big catch happens, and a mysterious man is found inside the whale; surprisingly, alive. Isaiah, one of the sailors, deemed as weird by the others, is tasked to share his rations with the man.

The meetings between Isaiah and the mysterious man will lead first toward animosity and a confrontation, but as long as the disgrace hovers over the Merciful, they will be attracted towards the other, sharing their strangeness as the common point that creates a ground between them. Isaiah has a complicated relationship with the mystical elements, partly due to how he was traumatized by the past; but it is strangely mesmerising how Nahill manages to draw us towards these scenes.

Parallel to this subplot, we can see how the Merciful and their crew are submerged into a desperate situation, one that early shows how it will end; similarly to the Demeter in Dracula, you can feel the hopelessness and dread taking over the boat, paired with particularly well-written body horror scenes and a bit of aquatic horror. 

From The Belly is an excellent horror novel, which fits perfectly the philosophy of Tenebrous Press; if you are looking for something different and whose quality is over the roof, you should give it a try. After reading this kind of book, I can't wait to deep dive more into Nahill's books, because there's talent here.

The Author/s

Emmett Nahill

Emmett Nahill

Hailing from a haunted seaside town in Northeastern Massachusetts, Emmett Nahil is the author of LET ME OUT (Oni Press, 2023), and a writer of horror and speculative fiction centering marginalized perspectives. His debut novel, FROM THE BELLY (Tenebrous Press) releases Summer 2024. His writing has been featured in THE BOOK OF QUEER SAINTS, VOLUME II, Laura Kate Dale's GENDER EUPHORIA anthology, and elsewhere. Favoring the historic, the strange, and the gory, in his other life Emmett makes video games as Narrative Director and co-founder of Perfect Garbage Studios. He can be found most places online as @_emnays.