January 1937. Jack Miller has just about run out of options. His shoes have worn through, he can't afford to heat his rented room in Tooting, and he longs to use his training as a specialist wireless operator instead of working in his dead-end job. When he is given the chance to join an arctic expedition, as communications expert, by a group of elite Oxbridge graduates, he brushes off his apprehensions and convinces himself to join them.
As the young men set sail from a gloomy Britain on the verge of war, Jack feels the overwhelming excitement of not knowing what lies ahead. Little can he imagine the horrors that await him in their destination, Gruhuken, a place that cannot escape the savage echo of its past.
©2010 Michelle Paver (P)2010 Orion Publishing Group Limited
A beautiful atmospheric story. It had me captivated by its darkness and tension
The beauty of this novel is not what is described but that which is implied. Don't listen to it expecting a hair raiser, just allow yourself to be immersed in the cold.
I really enjoyed this book. It was very well written with believable characters, and the descriptive verses of the Arctic were fascinating. I found the ghost story part quite tame and slow, and once I realised my spine was not going to tingle and my sleep was not going to be disturbed over this book, I appreciated the story a bit more. I would not describe it as dark, disturbing nor horrific but it is interesting and I definitely wanted to listen to it all the way to to the end.
This story kicks off with a very effective opening monologue. The first person point of view provides the story with a fantastic atmosphere. The writing style combined with a brilliant narration performance by Jeremy Northam allow the reader to become fully immersed in the story, which itself is quite creepy and realistic. The setting is realistically portrayed and allows the reader to really get a sense for the intense cold and isolation experienced by the protagonist as he progresses through the story.
I honestly cannot give enough credit to Jeremy Northam for this performance. I believe he presented the story flawlessly. Even his portrayal of the various Scandinavian accents are extremely realistic. Often narrator's attempts at various accents can detract from the story and drag the reader out of the experience, but this is most definitely not an issue in this case.
A well deserved four stars!
Dark Matter is in the best tradition of the 'creeping dread' British horror genre, in the manner of M.R. James. The first person narrative is nuanced and very compelling. The novel is a well-researched fictional history of an expedition in the 1930s to a haunted Norwegian bay, far above the arctic circle. Beyond the main stories are themes of poverty, class and hero worship which give the story incredible depth.
The narration by Jeremy Northam is flawless.
"Dark Matter by Michelle Paver"
As a first experience with audiobooks, listening to Dark Matter narrated by Jeremy Northam is an eye opening experience. The story, quite simple really, is riveting. A touch of irony here and there makes it all the better. Of course, Mr. Northam could read a phone book and make it interesting but the story is so compelling that he quickly becomes "just" the narrator of a very good story.
I enjoyed the experience very, very much and quite recommend it.
"Not as good as it could have been"
Great idea, great characters, good narrator, slow story, I kept wanting to jump ahead. It held my attention well at first but I struggled to pay attention to the narrator about half way through.
"Ominous, dark, creepy and wondrous"
This is a grand and at the same time deeply claustrophobic adventure. The setting, between the great wars, is perfect for the precise and scientific exploration of haunting and horrid, menacing presence.
Dark Matter succeeds as an intelligent, evocative and visceral ghost story and its central metaphor remains strong and intact, evolving and gaining depth as the deeply personal narrative unfolds.
Jeremy Northam is superb and reveals how great and majestic a craft narration can be.
Jeremy Northam is superb in his narration. Most of the text is in the main character's mind, rather than spoken aloud. Northam's take on this book really brought to light the idea that the character is speaking to himself. The narration brought this book to life.
"Absolutely an amazing writer-VERY creepy!!!"
YES.YES.YES. If you are looking for a creepy, atmospheric haunting with strong character development and an engaging, original story then grab this one!!! This author KNOWS scary. Her ability to write had me absorb every word, the atmosphere she creates is incredible and the fear that accompanies isolation and darkness is executed perfectly in her writing.
Jack is a reclusive, defensive ass...yet I bet anyone could relate on some level, I did.
Best narrator I've heard yet! He carries the words well, perfectly.
The bear post.....oh God and the window checking. I don't want to spoil anything!!!
I picked this book based on reviews and I couldn't be more satisfied. I even loved the ending----how many horror writers can successfully pull those off??? I'm a big critic that way. This author has just made it to my top #2 and trust me I read a LOT of horror!!! SO GOOD!
Wonderfully creepy and surprisingly claustrophobic tale. Narration is superb. Very well written. I highly recommend this book to anyone with a love of ghost stories.
"Excellent and haunting."
I have never read anything by Michelle Paver before so this was a pleasent surprise. A chillng ghost-story set in the most desolate and isolated enviroment imaginable and with characters that really feels alive. I'm usually not very fond of novels written in diary-form but Michelle Paver's prose pulls it through all the way to the ghastly ending.
I recommend the book to anyone interested in good ghost-stories and will certainly look up her other works as well.
"Great Horror Story!!"
An Exhibition to the high artic seems fated to end poorly even before it starts. An uneasy Norwegian captain who knows more than he will acknowledge; all but three of the team struck down before even landing; and gruesome artifacts of other unsuccessful enterprises found on the bay shore at which the team plans to overwinter, all seem to point at the reality that nobody wants to acknowledge: this place is haunted. Shortly after the team arrives uneasiness sets in and through some unfortunate circumstances Jack is to be left for a short time alone to man the station. This is in October 1937 and the sun has already set for the last time of the season. Events are told through the entries in Jack's journal and slowly we watch Jack lose control as terror seeps into every action and every perception. How long can he hold the fort until the others come and save him? He has a radio, dogs and even has a visitor but ultimately the winter is setting in and the ice will soon settle the question of his rescue. Meanwhile every month comes the moonless sky and the nothingness that threatens to consume him.
This is a wonderful piece of horror fiction that slowly ratchets up the tension and uneasiness. It is unsettling yet compelling and was a true “page turner” that I almost listened to completely in one sitting. As I read I wondered: “which is more horrifying: the ghost we see or the ghost we create in our minds?”, “How much of our sanity is linked to the things we call reality – light, color, other people, sound?”, and “Are their things that we don’t understand or want to acknowledge that exist beyond this reality?” Jack must balance these questions with other forces pulling on him, such as rationality, duty, loyalty, honor, and love.
I felt the length and the pacing of the story were perfect. In these days where every novel is part of a trilogy or massive in length, it was refreshing to encounter a tight little story as complete and satisfying as this one. I highly recommend this for fans of horror or psychological thrillers. To me this story had elements of “The Shining”, “The Thing”, and “The Turn of the Screw.”
"A good ghost story"
This was a pretty good ghost story. Not a ton of action, but the plot builds up nicely to the end. Story is well written with plenty of details and flow to keep you listening well after you stop your car. Recommended.
"Dark Matter by Michelle Paver"
An excellent story, brilliantly told. Atmospheric and chilling, poignant and heartbreaking. Narration - spot on. One of the best audiobooks that I have listened to so far.
"Wonderful audio performance"
?Dark Matter?, Michelle Paver?s hotly anticipated adult novel, describes itself as a ghost story, and that it most definitely is, but it is also a poignant love story. Set firmly in the class-ridden society of the inter-War years, when exploring the mysterious Polar regions had the allure that space travel has for us today, Ms Paver?s book is nonetheless crisp, modern and accessible in style. Many have favourably likened the novel to the classic ghost stories of M.R. James. James, I find, chills me most when read aloud, and I recommend the audio version of ?Dark Matter?, read by Jeremy Northam, for the same reason. Jeremy?s intelligent and subtle yet incredibly powerful performances make him the ideal reader of ?Dark Matter?. This may well be his best audio performance to date.
Jack Miller, whose journal forms the narrative, is a loner, a misfit, a middle-class boy with a chip on his shoulder, too well-educated to have anything in common with his peers, and doomed by circumstances to a dead-end job. He is poor, desperate, and longs for another life, where he can use his intelligence. An Arctic expedition offers Jack a chance to change his life. After seeing a drowned man pulled from the Thames, and fearing a similar fate awaits him if he stays in London, he decides to take his chance, though once again he is the outsider amongst his Oxbridge companions.
Jack is a vividly drawn character, and a gift for an actor, as is the journal format. Think of it as one long soliloquy! Jeremy doesn?t merely read the book, he becomes Jack Miller. Jack is a character you will care about. He is prickly at times, a mass of insecurities, at first an unlikely hero, but he is also an ordinary man who is capable of great courage, as we find out.
It is when the expedition reaches Gruhuken that the novel and Jeremy?s performance really take hold. I recommend setting aside a goodly chunk of time to listen because you won't want to switch off!
"The scariest audio book I have ever listened to"
I usually listen to my books late at night, but this was one that almost had me running around turning all the lights on. This must be THE most scary book that I have downloaded from Audible to date. I'm no great fan of violence or gore, and with this book it's the suggestion of the horror awaiting the protagonist that really gets to you - the uncertainty of whether it is all in his (or your) mind. But no spoilers here! I also really enjoyed the atmospheric descriptions of the barren artic wastes and found the narration really good. All in all a highly recommendable read!
"Top 5 Horror"
I listened to this book a while a go now and really enjoyed it from start to finish. It really grips you with the atmosphere and the character(s) are very believable. This makes it easy to feel like you are in the book and believe me when I say that sometimes it is a relief to remind yourself you are not.
I would definitely recommend this to a friend and will be listening again! I am a massive fan of all things horror so for me this is quite a statement.
"Dark. And very cold. Brilliant."
Oh boy, I listened to this while London was experiencing the Big Chill and it totally spooked me. There were times when I found it so menacing I had to switch off . The atmosphere is very convincing thanks to Jeremy Northam's superb narration. Each scene was very clear to me visually and this made the 'menace' of the story even more threatening. But there's compassion here too, the main character is genuinely likeable and you feel - and fear - for him in his solitude. I absolutely loved it.
"Buy this book"
This was one of the best audiobooks I have listened to. The characters were believable, and the story was well developed. The sense of menace was built slowly, with a clever interlude when it seemed all might be ok. Any more information would spoil a great listen - I recommend this book to anyone who has ever finished reading and wished that the story continued.
"Storytelling at its best..."
This really is an excellent book, and far surpasses the basic storyline of a small group of people going to the islands of Svalbard to study weather patterns. All starts well, but it isn't too long before the first sense of foreboding is triggered by the question 'Did you speak to him?'
After this the sense of menace slowly mounts, until two wrong choices Jack makes from misguided altruism lead to the inevitable tragedy, albeit not the one expected.
This is a strongly written story, and so goosepimply atmospheric that at times I felt myself actually there by Jack's side, experiencing the horror of his two fatal and irrevocable mistakes. It was impossible to escape the feeling that this wasn't going to end well; in fact, it was one of the most poignant endings I've come across in a long time.
Excellently written, superb narration and highly recommended.
If you like having your spine tingled, buy this audio-book! You will not be disappointed.
"So haunting and atmosphere - a gem of a story"
It's hard for a book to really capture a spine-tingling ghost story, but this book does it fantastically. The harsh landscape is really captured in this writing, and the characters are excellent. My heart was really racing at times, and the mix of landscape and cultural mythology and factual history was utterly compelling. An excellent story and fabulous narration all combined to make this a real treasure.
Creepy story, very atmospheric and the reader's voice suited the story.
This is a very fine novel, beautifully and evocatively written. Jeremy Northam's superbly atmospheric narration makes it a terrific audiobook, in both senses of the word. Far more than a ghost story set in the Arctic, it is a profound meditation on loneliness, darkness, fear, love, loss, memory and death. Without being in the least sentimental, it is a deeply moving story, movingly read by a great actor.
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