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
Dark Matter is a moody, atmospheric ghost story reminiscent of James or Poe. There is little obvious gore; the horror lies in the claustrophobic struggles of the protagonist who is tormented by his inability to decide whether he is hallucinating or really being haunted by a ghost. He is temporarily alone at a pre-World War I arctic research site. The cold and the dark close him in. He is constantly counting off the days until his companions return and that return repeatedly gets delayed. His only companion (apart from a brief visit from a trapper) is an Inuit husky. How he goes from being a dog hater to having his sanity saved by a dog is one of the more interesting subplots (if you like dogs, I do). The narrator is excellent and makes the most of a good story. Recommended if you like ghost stories without a dead body every ten steps...not for action junkies.
If you love ghost stories in the gothic/vitorian vein, then this is a tale well worth reading and listening to. I believe that this "chilling" tale will become a classic. The narration is spot on and the writing is tight and well developed.
Avid reader (and listener) of books. I love drawing and photography.
I love the story. There's a creeping sense of unease throughout the whole thing. The more I knew about Jack the more I liked him, and that simply added to the suspense - I didn't want anything to happen to him. I knew something bad was coming but I didn't know what. It made me want to listen non-stop simply to find out what happened.
The moment with the Seal. I don't want to spoil the moment for people who have never read it, but I was deeply affected by it. It added to the atmosphere of creeping horror I felt. It made it seem more substantial.
Even though I truly enjoyed the story, what I loved most about it was the narrator. He has a pleasant, calming voice, and I love the way the narrator reads the story, it is like the main character is a real person relating his experiences to me. I don't feel like I'm listening to an audiobook at all, and the emotions of Jack shine through in his performance. When the character felt afraid, I felt afraid with him. It really felt like I was going on a journey with him. I think the narrator simply enriched what was already a good story and made it superb.
'What is it? What does it want? Why is it angry with me?'
I would recommend this story to anyone who loves ghost stories and suspense. The story, if you'll excuse the pun, is truly chilling. I wouldn't recommend you listen to it at night, like I had done, though.
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!
This story met the criteria that I was looking for at the time. Ghost story in a winter setting.
(I realize that sounds odd but I pick books that way)
In that regard this story did not let me down. At times I was pleasantly reminded of a little Lovecraft and Poe, other times I found the story to build to no avail. The writing felt like a classic does.
There was nothing wrong at all with this book. I was just left wanting more.
Yes the narration was excellent!
The whole premise of the story and the setting.
No others from Jeremy yet but I loved the narrators work on this book.
Listen to it late at night and you will not be disappointed.
Hard-core horror fans may not be enamoured with this story, as the fear slowly simmers without really boiling over. Just enough detail to imply horror, and lots of beautifully written tension. The placement of this story post-WW2 aids several plot points and adds to the feeling of displacement, or disorientation, the reader may experience. The main character is nicely developed and likeable. His story is told in an intimate, journal style. The book takes it's time getting to the "creepy parts," but the quiet, moodiness of the writing, and the character development is, in it's own way, suspenseful. Possibly not the most thrilling ending, but really, the story wraps up nicely and the denoument is quite satisfying. Definitely a mood piece. And...WOW, the narration is INCREDIBLE!!!
This terrifyingly cold book is lovely for this dark, frigid time of year. I listened to it during my evening runs in the cold and dark. The isolated, confined atmosphere added shivers to the brilliant ghost story.
Jeremy Northam gave a nuanced performance, and I will be looking for other books narrated by him.
This is a nice quick listen. Just over six hours. Perfect for a drive or just doing chores around the house on a Saturday.
You may want to pay for this out of pocket as you can digest it in one go and that way you still have your credit for the remaining 29 days.
That being said, it is still worth the listen. Jeremy Northam has given a nice performance on this story. This would be best suited for the Fall as the weather is getting worse and you seem pulled inside more. You will really feel part of this story. While I listened to it on a warm Spring day, I did have to suppress a shudder more than once. Enjoy!
"Dark and unsettling"
One of the best books I've listened to.
Jack of course. He was the the heart and soul of the story.
Wonderful performance, brilliantly paced and interpreted and lovely on the ear.
The relationship Jack has with the dog was very well told, and of course, Gus. *sniffle*
Such a brilliant book. Tight writing, very atmospheric. I suppose it would be called an old fashioned ghost story. There's no gore or throats ripped out but it's better for it in my eyes. The feeling of creeping menace brought back tales by M.R James. It's that good. It's sticks in the mind along with that feeling of unease. It has a wonderful sense of place. You can see Gruhuken in your head, hear the silence, the storms, the sea; smell the rotting seaweed. And the bloody bear post is the scariest piece of wood ever written about. It really is a wonderful story and I absolutely recommend it.
"Chillingly Brilliant "
I couldn't stop listening... great narration, superbly written. I felt the cold darkness permeate my mind. More please Michelle!
I would be surprised if Michelle Paver was not influenced by M.R.James, for me the greatest writer of disturbing stories, but there is no question as to her own originality shown by this book. Her description of place and its supernatural element both underscore and illuminate a masterly atmosphere and character study. It is slow moving, understated and ultimately unexpected - do not expect thrills. Its writing as an act of imagination is quite breathtaking, and as often is the case, a female writer portrays a man better than many male writers. It is written in first person, and Jeremy Northam's narration is almost an actor's soliloquy; again a testament to the fine writing. Thoroughly recommended, especially for Autumn and Winter nights.
"Wonderful, sad and gripping"
This was a wonderfully read and totally absorbing tale - I found myself reluctant to stop listening when I needed to do other things! The atmosphere of loneliness, terror, love and faith was beautifully expressed. The story is superb and it is so wonderful to find a truly frightening ghost story which has depth and ultimate redemption (of a sort).
Dark Matter is a very enjoyable audiobook, If there can be such a thing as an audio equivalent of a page turner, this would be it.
Jeremy Northam is a superb reader, and you really feel like you are listening to Jack (the main character) rather than someone just reading from a script.
The building sense of isolation becomes almost unbearable towards the end of the book and makes for an enjoyably suspenseful listen.
I thoroughly enjoyed this audiobook. The reality of the setting and the characters are well establsied before the ghost elements are gradually introduced. The culmination of tension is truely gripping.
This audiobook was utterly rivetting! I became totally immersed in the characters, the plot and the location, experiencing a roller-coaster of emotions throughout this spooky but incredibly moving tale. Jeremy Northam's narration really brought the story to life and made Jack a very realistic character. This is a wonderful book and one that I would definitely recommend.
I found both narrative and performance completely compelling and listened to the whole thing in one session because it's the audio equivalent of impossible to put down. I hope there will be many more stories like this from Michelle Paver. This one has edged Sarah Waters' 'Little Stranger' into second place in my top ten of modern ghost stories, and I didn't think that was possible.
"Well crafted novel"
Dark matter is a well crafted and subtle novel which is hard to put down. Compelling story presented in the first person in the form of journal entries, which is a journey through a full range of emotions from anticipation, excitement, jealousy, fear obsession and paranoia. The story builds nicely. Well researched and thoroughly enjoyable!
I hesitate to disagree with other reviewers but I found this book a disappointment.
The plot is just too far-fetched and very contrived, and the way the author tries to rack up the tension just didn't work for me. It's been done far better by other authors eg Richard Matheson and the great Edgar Allen Poe.
Jermey Northam is a very talented narrator and he does his best - indeed it was the only thing that kept me going to the end - but a good narrator cant make up for a mediocre book. Sorry.
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