I saw someone mention on Twitter that they were reading Dark Matter and it was really scary. Being nosy I just had to take a look, when I found out the book was set in a remote uninhabited bay in the Arctic I knew I must read it.
Just like the author, Michelle Paver, I have had a lifelong fascination with all places extreme, cold and remote. I wonder how people live in constant darkness for up to six months, cut off from the rest of the world.
The book is set in 1937 when a group of five gentlemen set off on an expedition to the arctic including Jack, a poor lonely man who feels he doesn’t really deserve to be sharing time and space with his fellow upper class explorers. For various reasons only Jack, Algie and Gus, plus their eight huskies actually make it to Gruhuken, a remote bay, which was to be their home for a year. However, it soon becomes apparent that perhaps they are not as alone as they thought they would be. Being the stiff upper lip types they don’t like to admit to each other that all is not well leaving Jack especially to start questioning his sanity. Unfortunately illness leaves Jack manning the camp alone as the polar night beckons. Through Jack’s journal we read of his increasing panic at being alone in total darkness among a dark figure that appears to be very angry with him, how his relationship with one of the huskies, Isaak, develops into a deep mutual friendship and of his strong feelings for his now departed companions that he feels compelled to impress by keeping the expedition going at whatever cost.
I loved reading about the desolate landscape and the arctic winter, in particular the polar night, and could almost picture myself there. I found myself holding my breath at times but unlike some reviews I wouldn’t say the book was terrifying, more creepy and psychologically thrilling. The only criticism I have is that I was disappointed the book wasn’t longer.
However I would definitely recommend it, I loved it in fact and it has pricked up my enthusiasm to find out more about the region once again and to read some of the books that Michelle used to research her story.