Horror Book Review: Dark Matter by Michelle Paver

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 be the wireless operator on 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.  And Gruhuken is not uninhabited. Jack is not alone.  Something walks there in the dark.

From Michelle Paver’s web site

As a lover of ghost stories, this book pleasently surprised me when I borrowed it at the local library. I later went on to get it myself in hardcover, and the audiobook, that is amazingly read, and perfect for a cold winter night! It is set just outside of Norway, and there is some things set in Norway, and also a few Norwegian characters like the captain of the boat that brings the group to Gruhuken.

But I think that one of the things that got me with this book, was that they actually used something from Norwegian folklore, and they used it really well. I won’t spoil it here, but it pleased the folklore nerd in me and has kept with me since.

As a story it starts slowly in the cold streets of London, and then it builds as we discover the even colder Artic through the eyes of our hero, as we read through his diary. Then, the sun fades for longer times, until it is gone, and as it slowly fades, we feel a creeping promise that when only the darkness is left, something horrible will happen.

(Trailer for the audiobooks. Can be gotten from audiable for free if you don’t have an account there yet.)
So, as the autumn now turns the nights darker, and as winter closes in, and the darkness takes more and more over, sit down before the fireplace with a good book, or lean back in the chair with the audiobook, and let your mind wander to the cold artic, where danger creeps ever closer in the dark.
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