Genuinely scary


This was “almost unputdownable”. The only reason for the almost was because it got very late at night and I wanted to actually go to sleep!

In Dark Matter we have a dark and brooding ghost story. The setting in the Arctic, Spitzbergen to be precise, is very atmospheric.

This book concerns a group of twenty-somethings who get together in the 1930s to form a scientific expedition to the Arctic. In the true spirit of that time, there is a good deal of public school bravado behind this. This lends an air of class related snobbery to the early part of the book. This is later pushed aside in deference to the meat of the story. Jack is the sole lower/middle class player in the group of five. He is the pivot for the book. He is alone in his life and without direction.

Our group set off in search of adventure and in the end find “horror”. We read this via the narration of Jack’s journal. His descent into abject terror is brilliantly described.

Jack and the team set out to take a years weather readings from a remote location called Gruhuken. This is a fictional location. The gradual change in the environment plays a key role in the perceptions of the group. They set out to overwinter there, enduring the long days without any sunlight. Needless to say this does not actually happen.

Our concerns are raised by many pointers and it is the skill of this author which leads us into the same place of fear experienced by Jack.

I really couldn’t tell if the whole scene was entirely in Jack’s mind or whether there was something actually happening in Gruhuken.

Were there any negatives? I don’t think there were. The only possibles were that I’m not sure that if jack were as lower middle class as he was portrayed with the family background he had, if he would actually have gone to university at that point in history. I’m also a not sure if the boat skipper would have behaved in quite the way he did surrounding the stories about Gruhuken. These are very minor points.

Brilliant. One of the best Ghost stories I’ve read since “the shepherd”.

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