Sunday, September 25, 2011

What I've been reading lately... Dark Matter

Ooooh I love a good ghost story. And Michelle Paver's Dark Matter doesn't disappoint. I first read about this book in a review in the literary section of my newspaper. It's 1937, and five men set out to research a remote part of the Arctic called Gruhuken. Written in a diary format by explorer Jack, we read about his enthusiasm to be actually doing something that doesn't involve the looming second world war. Cast as the group's Wireless Operator, Jack describes the freezing cold, having to exit the warmth of their hut for polar temperatures and having each day become darker and darker as the inevitable polar night creeps upon them promising months of winter darkness.

Twilight. Behind the bird cliffs, the red glow of dawn, but to the west it was night: the cold glimmer of stars. The black bones of the mountains jutted through the snow. On the shore, the whale ribs glinted with frost, and the rocks sloping down to the sea were white and smooth. The water was dark purple, vivid and strange. Because of the cliffs, we couldn't see much. We saw the sky turn bloody and inflamed as the sun struggled to rise. We saw a sliver of fire. An abortive dawn. The sun sank back, defeated. Gone.

I mostly read this book at night just before bed. Deliciously fine if you're going to turn off your lamp and snuggle down to sleep, knowing that you're safe and sound, not so much if you need to visit the bathroom in an all-sleeping household.

Jack's journal tells us about a menacing presence that appears on the Arctic beach, malevolent, sorrowful and dangerous. My only gripe with this book was the language didn't evoke 1937 to me. The vernacular seemed much more contemporary. But this didn't steal anything away from the book itself.

Sadly (or maybe luckily depending how you look at it) I picked this book up for five bucks at the bookshop that replaced the one that shut down at my local shopping centre. Apparently all books sold there are now going to cost five dollars. So I'm not really going to complain too much if I'm able to pick up great stories for that price. If you like ghost stories definitely one to read.

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