The Forest and Pale Green Dot by Justin Groot
This one gets me right where I live. In a mysterious and grand environment, monsters eat people. But the real monsters…are of the human psyche!
But seriously, this story is great. Rather than oceans, we have forests of monstrous trees that stretch from the sea floor to where the surface would be. People (“rangers”) put on body cameras and go into the forest, trying to avoid being eaten by the giant monsters that live there.
And that’s pretty much it as far as worldbuilding goes. The monsters are just monsters – no speculative biology. And the author doesn’t even begin to deal with what having the oceans replaced with monster-forest would do to world history. That’s okay, though, this book isn’t science fiction or alternate history. It’s horror.
And as horror, it’s excellent, reminiscent of John Dies At The End. The Rangers are not normal people, and even if they don’t come to forest lugging traumatic emotional baggage, they sure as hell do when they leave.
My one problem is that the plot falters toward the end of The Forest, and the book ends abruptly at what should be the 1/3 mark. That’s why I suggest reading The Forest and its sequel Pale Green Dot together and pretending they’re one book.