Wednesday, August 18, 2010
From the publishers that brought you The Passage by Justin Cronin comes a new and suspenseful novel called Dark Matter by Michelle Paver, the bestselling writer of The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness Books for children and young adults.
I was lucky to receive a review copy of this as it will only be released in October of this year. I actually have a pile of review copies waiting to be read but as soon as I opened the package containing Dark Matter, I decided to just sample reading a few pages. I was hooked right away and finished it in just a few days. Dark Matter is the kind of horror story that can chill just about anyone. It's completely atmospheric as it's set in a fictional Arctic bay called Gruhuken.
It's July 1937 and twenty-eight-year-old Jack has just been offered a job to join a team of four men on a year long Arctic expedition. The endeavor promises to be dangerous as well as difficult because of the endless nights that occur during the winter. Jack is desperate for a change in his life and he decides to take the job in spite of the fact that he has nothing in common with his well-to-do companions. Gruhuken turns out to be an extremely cold and isolated place and as one by one his new friends have to leave, Jack feels a growing unease. Something or someone seems to be haunting Gruhuken. The short days turn into longer nights and as the sun completely disappears, Jack is even more apprehensive about what lays outside his cabin. Is it a ghost or a man? Though he senses something is out there roaming in the snow, his rational mind continues to clear his doubts. In spite of repeated attempts by his companions to pick him up before the sea freezes over, Jack is determined to finish his job and refuses to leave Gruhuken. Sooner or later he must come face to face with what he fears.
Michelle Paver studied biochemistry at Oxford and has had a lifelong fascination with the Arctic. She traveled and spent time in the Arctic region. As she explains it, "“I’ve always loved ghost stories and for the past decade, I’ve have had Dark Matter at the back of my mind. The title came first, and soon afterwards, I realised that the story must take place in the Arctic: the land of extremes that has haunted me for years. Dark Matter is my attempt to capture the beauty and menace of the Arctic – in a ghost story that will scare the hell out of you.”
Paver's research and experience shows in her vivid descriptions of the cold and isolated Gruhuken. She's also overwintered in the Arctic and her depictions are indeed creepy and menacing. It truly must be horrible to have days and weeks without sunlight and it must be even worse to be experiencing all this and be utterly alone. This book is spooky in a very intelligent way.
Mark your calendars, Dark Matter will be released on October 21 so definitely be on the lookout for it. Thanks very much to Helen Richardson at Orion for sending me an advanced copy.