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Dark Matter
A Ghost Story

By Michelle Paver

         Lonely, penniless graduate Jack yearns to leave his dreary job in a stationery firm. As the clouds of war gather, he answers an advertisement for an expedition to Spitzbergen, a remote part of Norway above the Arctic Circle. At first he cannot imagine getting on with the team as they are all ex-public school types, but he is desperate to get away and start afresh. Everything seems set to go well at the uninhabited bay the team have chosen, but Gruhuken has a terrible secret and soon Jack will have to brave it all alone.

If M R James had gone on vacation to Norway, he would surely have written something like this. I do love a good ghost story, and this is certainly that and more. It is also a story about what happens when people pit themselves against the vast, unknowable wilds and when nature – and the supernatural – fights back. Having Jack tell the story as it unfolds in his journal is a stroke of genius; he is easy to sympathize with and tells what happens at first with the rationality of a trained scientist, later with all the fear of a haunted man. So often stories like this start well (actually I don’t think I ever read one that didn’t) but few of them sustain the atmosphere needed for this type of tale and even fewer pack such a wallop when the final horror is finally revealed. You won’t be disappointed I can assure you, and what a treat in these days of paranormal romances and detective stories to find a proper, frightening ghost. This author impressed me with her juvenile Chronicles of Ancient Darkness set in Britain during the Mesolithic period, and this is her new adult novel. I await with bated breath what she will write next; very highly recommended.

The Book

21 October 2010
1409123782 / 9781409123781
Horror / Spitzbergen, Norway 1937
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NOTE: Holiday: Halloween; Some gory moments

The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2010
© 2010