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
I was not familiar with the author when I picked this up, so I had no idea what to expect. The plot is simple but told in a very effective way. Narration is absolutely top notch. This may be my favorite audio book of the past 12 months, and I go through these things like it's my job.
I haven't tried it in print form, but the reader brought an incredible richness to the experience. Aside from the excellent voice, Jeremy Northam worked it so you could feel the dry cold in every breath.
When the pole he definitely cut down and destroyed is back.
He has a rugged sharpness to his voice that fleshes out the atmosphere.
A Cold Post
The atmosphere here is thick enough to float rocks in. The setting of the story is wonderfully bleak and vivid. I also like that it makes use of a rather underutilized monster of nordic folklore.
See clearly/Know what is/Act without hesitation
This is easily one of the best ghost stories I have read and listened to in the last decade.
The first look at the round shouldered figure on the beach.
If Ms. Paver's other novels are paced the same as Dark Matter, then I think I will pass up the opportunity. If Jeremy Northam delivers a performance in other productions like he did in this recording, then I will definitely send them into the Audible shopping cart.
Absolutely not. I'd consider other ghost stories, but if the majority of the genre has this little action, then I may skip it in the future.
Jeremy Northam was absolute perfection as Jack Miller. There are minor characters, which he makes distinctive, but as this if a first person story with diary entries as the story vehicle, the main character is 99% of the novel. That said, he makes each individual a true personality with accents and speech patterns.
Michelle Paver is a gifted writer whose descriptions are vivid and come to life off the page. However, there is only so much of a good thing you can take. The ratio of description to action, or events, was, in my opinion 7-1. There's only so many times you can describe the ever-shifting colors of the arctic sky, sunsets, plays of light upon the water and snow, etc., before you are begging for something to happen.The production value was good, although the formatting of seven audio chapters not matching the 17 book chapters did throw me off and I kept having to use bookmarks to return to a chapter's start.The star of this production was easily the narrator, Jeremy Northam. No one could have cast a better narrator for this production. It's was kept me listening till the end.
Did I read a different Dark Matter? I couldn't download this novel fast enough after reading the reviews. I do love a good ghost story and based on people's comments it sounded as if I was going to experience one that set a gold standard. If this was one of the greatest, then I have to bail from this genre now.
It is easy to discover that Michelle Paver is a gifted writer. Her characters are life-like, the dialogue natural and sharp, and her descriptions of the artic seas, landscape, flora and fauna, and palette of shifting colors in each scene is vivid. However, these elements need the accompaniment .of plot and pace. The story's events, like an arctic winter, are sloooooow in passing. It takes so many chapters before you even are exposed to a ghostly manifestation that the interest in the novel wanes.
No doubt there is suspense, the reviewers are spot on, and it's built steadily, steadily. But it builds only so far and then it flat lines till the end of the novel. Reviewers claimed they were frightened, midway through the novel I used the recording as a sleep aid. The suggestions of a malevolent presence watching Jack Miller and the expedition members isn't enough, especially since it takes 10+ chapters before a ghost is seen. And once experienced, its later appearances, and suggestions of presence, hardly match the build up to the climax.
I'm sad to say, it was a let down. When the narration finished I asked myself, "that's it? I spent the money and time on this story and that's it?"
The strength of this novel is the character arc Jack Miller travels through the chapters. Had this been a psychological case study of the daily affect of artic winters on the mind, it would have been a great academic read, but a novel highlighting daily routines and visual descriptions seems no more exciting than real life, even when it is peppered with a ghost.
I wanted to like this novel. I anticipated it. It was like looking forward to a date with someone you are told is beautiful, dynamic, and guaranteed to please. But as the date goes on you begin to see the flaws, the personality flattens with each passing minute, and in the end, you're standing on the porch, your date went inside and you didn't even get a peck on the cheek. If only they had paid for dinner.
Lover of sci-fi and the occasional horror story. Philosophical inclinations. English is my second language.
This is a nicely composed narrative about loneliness, social class and horror. As an avid fan of horror movies and books, I think there is little in the genre that can scare me. With Dark Matter, I actually had a delicious moment when I was lying alone in bed, listening to the narrative and starting to fantasize what might lie in wait for me in the darkness under the bed. As a Scandinavian, I like the fact that the author has drawn on some of our Scandi myths, although I might be less scared of the arctic night than people who have never experienced it.
I particularly like that the main protagonist, Jack, faces the horrors on Spitsbergen not as a hero, but because he is too afraid to display his fright to his social superiors. In a sense then, the novel shows how shame triumphs over dread.
I really enjoyed the performance by Jeremy Northam, who skillfully acted out, rather than merely read the novel. Could not help notice that he pronounced the Norwegian words quite well, guess he has done his homework.
Still, despite this being an entertaining book and despite the really well developed personage gallery and social themes, this kind of horror novel always follows a given path. Dark Matter does not do anything new with the genre and simply adds a bit of depth and detail to a narrative we have read/heard in numerous other books. This does not take away from its entertainment value, and the author never promises anything else. Nevertheless, this bars me from giving the book five stars, which I will save for the more innovative examples of the genre.
What a great book! I really liked the subtle spookiness and atmosphere the story has. The sense of isolation and the mental effect it had on the protagonist was written very well. I thought the supernatural elements were not too overbearing and complemented the story well. If you are looking for over-the-top gore and in-your-face horror, look somewhere else! However, if you enjoy a slowly built story with lots of chilling events that you think of long after you have finished the story, check this one out!
I would recommend to those who enjoy a ghost story depicted in the early 1900's.
The descriptions used gave you the impression that just out side your door would be a world of ice.
It was a very well written book. I found myself feeling dread just from the author's description of a log in the ground. Not something easily done for me! I can't go into too much depth without giving anything a way, but it does have that Lovecraftian journal-writing feel that slowly injects you with growing dread of something that shouldn't be.
Jeremy Northam does a good job as the narrator and by the end of the book you really feel he is the voice of the protagonist.
There are a few thoughts and declarations of male homosexuality that Michelle Paver crams in near the end of the book that I didn't feel were really needed, but the story was still great despite it. Not sure why she decided to add it. There isn't any physical homosexual contact. It's all in the guy's head. However, you won't miss anything by skipping the few tiny bits that she included if you are the homophobic type.
Also, if you are seeking an action-packed read, then you will not find it here. You should probably look for a different novel if that's what floats your boat.
All in all Dark Matter was a great horror story that I enjoyed a great deal. Anyone who enjoys tales of growing dread and creepy horror stories, but isn't looking for action, should definitely give this audiobook a listen.
Tell us about yourself!
The entire story seemed as something of an intro to a great horror story. The narrator is what held my interest, as the story although short was a bit slow.
Love epic fantasy, war stories, monsters, and zombies.
The author writes well, and the voice talent is perfectly capable. Nothing in this work draws attention to itself as being sub-standard. I'd probably try to author again, and definitely try the narrator again.
No, I wouldn't recommend it. I'd say,
"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.
This was my first audio book, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think I must have listened to it 5 or 6 times now, and it never gets old. I love the atmosphere that the author brings to the story, and would highly recommend it to anyone, not just lovers of ghost stories. Truly excellent!
"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.
Report Inappropriate Content