January 1937. Clouds of war are gathering over a fogbound London. Twenty-eight year old Jack is poor, lonely, and desperate to change his life, so when he’s offered the chance to join an Arctic expedition, he jumps at it.
Spirits are high as the ship leaves Norway: five men and eight huskies, crossing the Barents Sea by the light of the midnight sun. At last they reach the remote, uninhabited bay where they will camp for the next year, Gruhuken, but the Arctic summer is brief. As night returns to claim the land, Jack feels a creeping unease. One by one, his companions are forced to leave. He faces a stark choice: stay or go.
Soon he will see the last of the sun, as the polar night engulfs the camp in months of darkness. Soon he will reach the point of no return–when the sea will freeze, making escape impossible.
Gruhuken is not uninhabited. Jack is not alone. Something walks there in the dark.
My Review of Dark Matter
The story of the expedition to the Arctic is interesting and the descriptions are brilliantly done. The characters felt real to me, and I cared about what happened to them.
But I didn’t get enough of a feel for the the isolation or the darkness. Jack is never alone for long, then when he is he’s busy. I liked the journal format and I think it worked, but when Jack writes in it he condenses his day to the interesting bits and the long lonely hours aren’t included.
I did read it in the middle of summer, which didn’t help the atmosphere. I think this book would benefit from being read on a cold, dark evening. If you’re on your own, even better.
The important question: was I scared? Well, sort of, but not really. There was a nice build up, but it went on for too long. The reveal of how the ghost was created was creepy and very dark but felt a bit rushed and crammed in at the end. It feels like the book ends just as the scary things get going.
As a ghost story it falls a bit flat, but as a story about an Artic expedition with some dark, creepy elements then it works really well.