logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: Michelle-Paver
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-10-06 10:41
"Dark Matter" by Michelle Paver - novel filled with dread - highly recommended
Dark Matter - Michelle Paver

"Dark Matter" is a ghost story of the kind only a master storyteller can get right. The sense of bone-deep, hair-raising, hope-defeating dread builds with a slow inexorability that is almost too much to endure.

 

It is a book that seems at first to about the atmosphere of a place and the state of mind of an individual producing an unshakable uneasiness. This defensive explanation of fear as a product of the confluence of nature and character turns out to be too brittle to stand against the truth: the presence of something deeply malevolent, unrelentingly vengeful and entirely supernatural.

 

"Dark Matter" tells, mostly in journal form, the story of a 1937 British scientific expedition to the Arctic that ended disastrously.

 

The journal writer is Jack Miller a lower-middle-class man who sees himself as having, through no fault of his own, "missed his chance" to make a career. At twenty-seven, to change his life, he signs on to be the radio operator for a five-man Arctic expedition, made up of privileged, Harrow and Oxford educated young men, none of whom have any Arctic experience.

 

Michelle Paver uses the journal format with great skill to let us see what the journal writer sees and all the things that he doesn't see because he takes them for granted or they sit in a blind spot created by ignorance or inexperience.

 

In the early parts of the journal Jack is focused on the differences between himself and his upper-class companions, yet I was struck most by how similar they all are in their innocent unpreparedness and their unconscious sense of invulnerability.  These young men are unable to imagine the reality of the terrible power of a winter. Although they have no experience of the Arctic, they are confident that, with the right kit, some teamwork and a bit of pluck, they can conquer it. This combination of ignorance, self-confidence and wealth is probably one of the most lethal forces on the planet.

 

The expedition is dogged by bad luck from the beginning, so that, by the time they are encamped in the Arctic, Jack is accompanied only by Gus the charismatic leader of the expedition, Algie Gus' annoying, huntin'-shootin'-fishin' best friend winter and a pack of huskies. As full winter arrives, events conspire to leave Jack alone for a time with the darkness, the dogs and a nameless malevolent presence.

 

The power of this book comes from the quality of the writing, which subtly creates and sustains an atmosphere of creeping dread, one small scene at a time, letting your imagination fall slowly into the endless dark of an Arctic night until you feel the overwhelming isolation of being alone in a deadly cold darkness so silent you can hear yourself blink. Then Michelle Paver cranks up the horror by introducing an awareness of a manifest evil, a dread that is nameless only because daring to name it would make it too real to be borne. 

 

There is one journal entry that describes Jack becoming lost in fog on Halloween night, a short distance from the cabin he can no longer see. Nothing happens. Probably. Yet the passage held more fear in it than any confrontation with a monster could have produced.

 

I found the ending of the story very satisfying. There we no shortcuts and no cheap thrills, only the knowledge of how evil, once met, changes the lives of everyone it touches.

 

My enjoyment of the story was greatly increased by Jeremy Northam's skilled narration. Click on the SoundCloud link below to hear an extract.

 

[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/117937492" params="color=#ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&show_teaser=true&visual=true" width="100%" height="300" iframe="true" /]

 

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2018-10-03 23:00
Reading progress update: I've read 59%.
Dark Matter - Michelle Paver

I see why this made it to last year's Man Booker Longlist now. The writing is subtle and powerful, creating a gloomy atmosphere a little bit at a time, letting your imagination fall slowly into the endless dark of an Arctic night.

 

Then, when you are alone in the dark and the deadly cold, introducing a sensation of dread that is nameless only because you don't dare name it because naming it would make it real.

 

I've just read a passage about a man getting lost in fog on Halloween night, a short distance from the cabin he can no longer see. Nothing happened. Probably. Yet it the passage held more fear in it than any confrontation with a monster could have produced.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2018-09-22 23:15
Reading progress update: I've read 14%.
Dark Matter - Michelle Paver

So far, this is working well. It's told in a journal format that could easily become tiresome but, when handled with skill, lets you see what the journal writer sees and all the things that he doesn't see because he takes them for granted or they sit in a blindspot created by ignorance or inexperience.

 

The journal writer is a lower-middle-class man who sees himself as having "missed his chance" through no fault of his own. He's in a party made up of privileged, educated young men, set on an arctic adventure.

 

The writer is focused on the differences between himself and his companions. I can't help but be struck by how similar they all are in their innocent unpreparedness and their unconscious sense of invulnerability.

 

The class aspects are fascinating. I remember reading about Scott's doomed arctic expedition and being struck by the fact that, even when they were dying, there remained an unbreakable seperation between officers and other ranks.

 

Yet what's speaking most clearly to me at the moment is the idea of men in their twenties unable to imagine the reality of the terrible power of a winter. Men who have no experience of the Arctic and yet are confident that, with the right kit, some teamwork and a bit of pluck, they can conquer it. This combination of ignorance, self-confidence and wealth is probably one of the most lethal forces on the planet.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-07-29 20:54
Dark Matter by Michelle Paver
Dark Matter - Michelle Paver

Dark Matter by Michelle Paver
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Top Read 2018

Five men and eight huskies make their way to the Arctic, specifically to Gruhuken; an uninhabited bay that the expedition will spend the next twelve months. As the last days of summer fade, darkness descends until the sun becomes a distant memory. Jack, eager to work, finds himself alone when his companions are forced to leave, one by one. Soon enough, the nightmarish ambience takes its toll, especially when a horrific figure makes itself known.

(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)

There’s a funny story related to this book, and it all started with me initially purchasing it in my local secondhand bookstore. To tell the truth, I didn’t much pay attention to it, other than noting it was a ghost story, as said on its cover. I put it away with my mountains of other titles, and then some time passed. I got the urge to try Audible again, so I logged into my old account and found a random horror to try. Much to my surprise, it was truly amazing, and it surpassed my every expectation. After I finished it, I desperately wanted to get a physical copy, but I actually already had a hardback stashed away; indeed, the book I previously acquired in the store. Realising I had already had it, without even realising it, brought a sense of happiness I rarely feel; where everything feels just right. Paver’s hauntingly beautiful story will therefore always remain special to me.

I can only try and properly express my thoughts, but I’m unsure if they’ll do the masterpiece any justice. You see, in no way did I predict the emotion that rose to the surface as I progressed through the chapters. I didn’t foresee the ending that brought me to tears, nor the fondness that stuck with me thereafter. It’s tales like these that make reading an incredible experience - something that gives the days a sense of wonder. Okay, I could probably keep on gushing, or I could actually go into the all important details.

The structure in which Paver relied heavily upon is my preferred way of storytelling - deeply atmospheric, where the surroundings are used to add ample weight to the situation. I really could see every detail in my mind’s eye, and my imagination appreciated the brutality included. Let’s face it, the Arctic is just not a place for humanity, as literally everything about it can cause a big dose of death. Paver delved further into the uninhabitable environment by exploring the detrimental effects on mental health. Isolation played a major role, smothering the main character in all its depressive glory. Friendship and love were also prominent themes, and all together a remarkable concoction was created.

I honestly didn’t like Jack at first. His dog-hating ways were the total opposite of endearing, yet as time passed, I found myself warming to him. He developed a great deal, becoming someone I very much wanted to persevere. Due to bearing witness to his innermost thoughts, he was shaped into a very genuine person - he had his fears, desires, and most of all, an abundance of confusion that had him question his identity. I enjoyed his self discovery, as did I enjoy his struggle for survival.

The paranormal aspect was subtle, but it only made it all the more oppressive; its presence was constantly imminent, and I felt a considerable amount of dread. More than anything else, I was more worried for the dogs than any of their human counterparts. I knew from the first moment of their introduction that they would be used to pull the heartstrings. I mean, it’s not like Paver would have shied away from including animal cruelty, as there’s other instances where it’s present. Isaak in particular completely gained my love, for obvious reasons.

Since I listened to Audible’s version, I have to give credit to Jeremy Northam. His performance was brilliant; adding in just the right amount of despair.

In conclusion: What else can I say, other than I one hundred percent loved it?

Notable Quote:

Four months without the sun. Doesn't seem real.

© Red Lace 2018


Wordpress ~ Goodreads ~ Twitter

Source: redlace.reviews/2018/07/29/dark-matter-by-michelle-paver
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-04-19 22:10
A ghost story set in the Arctic landscape of fictional Gruhuken; the darkness and frigid cold alone are nightmarish enough!
Dark Matter - Michelle Paver

I’m now (finally) done with Dark Matter, my latest read for my #ScreamsByMail #HorrorPostalBookClub on Litsy. When I was actually reading it, it sped by, but I took a MASSIVE break in the middle of it because of animal death (yes, I know it’s par for the course in the Arctic circle but I couldn’t deal with it at the time). It reads as a journal, so it’s fast reading, but honestly being stuck on a polar ice cap in the dark sounds like a horror story to me anyway! I can’t think of anything more lonely or terrifying...
I was distracted for a good part of the book by the dogs’ well-being (the main character Jack luckily had huskies for company), as well as how animals are spoken about. This sort of thing trips me up in novels quite a bit (see above). It pulled me out of the actual story, and away from the ‘ghost story’.
Since we are writing in a journal (funnily enough) for the postal book club, and mailing that around too, I won’t write too much here. I will say though, that the writing by Michelle Paver is remarkable and fits very well with the time period and the character she writes for. I was very struck by this. She also obviously did extensive research into the area she writes about (although Gruhuken is fictional), and this is key to the effectiveness of the atmosphere of the novel. It will also ensure that you never, ever find me going near these parts. And it reminded me how much I hate the snow!

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?