Clouds of war are gathering over a fogbound London. Twenty-eight year old Jack is poor, lonely and desperate to change his life. So when he’s offered the chance to be the wireless operator on an Arctic expedition, he jumps at it. Spirits are high as the ship leaves Norway: five men and eight huskies, crossing the Barents Sea by the light of the midnight sun. At last they reach the remote, uninhabited bay where they will camp for the next year.
But the Arctic summer is brief. As night returns to claim the land, Jack feels a creeping unease. One by one, his companions are forced to leave. He faces a stark choice. Stay or go. Soon he will see the last of the sun as the polar night engulfs the camp in months of darkness. Soon he will reach the point of no return – when the sea will freeze, making escape impossible. And Gruhuken is not uninhabited. Jack is not alone. Something walks there in the dark.
I was really looking forward to this as I’ve never actually read a ghost story before, and I most certainly wasn’t disappointed. The language is easy to understand and this is an easy book to read, but it is still very well written. The pace is just right and the characters are engaging and easy to relate to. At our previous book group there were a few members who had already read this book and felt that they didn’t enjoy it and found it quite dull. Those members were unable to attend this meeting so I’m guessing that our conversations would have been a little different, but for those that did attend we thought that this was a really interesting and thought provoking novel.
The book brought up a few different discussions not only on ghost stories and how they should appeal to the readers, but also on relationships, beliefs and psychology. Michelle Paver is more well known for her young adult books and although this isn’t her first adult novel it is her first ghost story – and on a whole we think she has done a very decent job! We did all agree that it wasn’t the most heart thumping, terrifying ghost story to ever grace our bookshelves, but it is more the psychology of the book that will send shivers down your spine. Sometimes it’s what’s left to the imagination that can haunt you the most – what you don’t see can be just as scary as what you do see.
If you’re interested in ghost stories then this is definitely worth a read, and even if ghost stories are not for you it would still be worth a try – it may even convert you!
I found this link to an interview with the author with Richard and Judy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxywUNQXiHU It is interesting to find out just why Michelle wrote the book and her research on the book proves quite impressive.
Our next meeting is Tuesday 4th December and we will be discussing The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes. As it is our last meeting in 2012 we will be having cake and mince pies so it would be lovely to see as many of you as possible.