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
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,
"I thought the book had been written 50 yrs earlier"
The novel descibed the English manner of the adventurer class very well. The writing was of a style I associate with John Buchan or Jack London
Just brilliant! Gripping story read perfectly for the best effect. I could visualise the scenes, and when I told my daughter she should listen to it, she said 'no way!' And that it would give her the creeps. I didn't find it too scary, but full of tension, and the atmospherics are just amazing. I listen to my audible books in bed, and it stopped me from dozing off! Can't recommend highly enough. Top marks for the original story idea and for the narration.
"evocative and memorable"
I really enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it - it was scary and moody - it made me want to run and hide at times - Jeremy Northam is an excellent narrator - making the characters live and breathe! my husband listened to it after me and he loved it too.
I will definitely read/listen to any other books by the author Michelle Paver.
This was a lugubrious tale somewhat in the tradition of an nineteenth century classic thriller. Set in Greenland, it tells of a group of scientists thrown together on a lonely maritime outpost and of an unpleasant mystery which unfolds during their time there. Although it is a while since I heard this book, thinking of it now sends a tingle up my spine as the sinister atmosphere of this claustrophobic tale really got under my skin. This was despite having listened to it on a coach packed full of year 10 students as we travelled to France on a school trip!
"Spine Tinglingly Scary"
Dark Matter is one of only a handful of 'Horror' genre books I have read.
I must admit I had my doubts about the book to begin with as I had heard it was very descriptive and sometimes that puts me off. However in this case the descriptiveness is more than necessary and the narrator deals with everything beautifully.
The Arctic world created in Dark Matter is key as the author creates a wonderful environment that quickly turns from a beautiful frozen landscape into a dark, lonely, ice filled desert.
The tension builds so delicately in this book but by the last few chapters I could feel my heart thudding madly as the writer spun a web of words that scared the hell out of me!
As soon as I finished listening I insisted my partner listen to it. He is not a big fiction fan but he absolutely loved it and has gone on to recommend it to just about everyone!
I can't stress enough that this book is worth sticking with, some people have described it as slow but I think it is more of a builder - and without all that groundwork the end wouldn't be quite so terrifying. At first I thought this isn't scary but it creeps up on you and all of a sudden you're petrified and can't go to sleep! Ha-ha!
This book is Brilliant!
As a dedicated thriller/horror/suspense reader, I am not easy to please, but Dark Matter ticked all the boxes. Cleverly plotted, beautifully written, chilling...my partner and I talked about it for days after we finished listening to it, and he doesn't usually like chilling tales. Everything about this story was credible, absorbing and yes, rivetting. Five star!
"Suspense and atmosphere"
For me, this is something close to the perfect audio book. Great narration and brilliantly written by Michelle Paver, I was truly transported out onto the desolate tundra and was alone with the stories lead character Jack Miller. It was very relaxing and easy to engage with listen; the story at times becomes very tense which is part of the fun. I learnt about an area of the world I previously knew so little about, and have since recognised places on a world map mentioned in the book. Highly recommended.
"Dark Matter Fabulous gripping book"
DARK MATTER BY Michelle Paver.
Narrator Jeremy Northam's telling of the book is brilliant he captures all the atmosphere of the places he goes to and it made me quite nervous to carry on I’m so pleased I did. I have since listened to it 3 times and each time I’m totally captured by the story.
A young man Jack has fallen on hard times. He applies and gets a job as a wireless operator on an expedition to the Arctic with a group of geology graduates. He is quite excited and apprehensive about the trip.
They arrive at the campsite, dropped off by the ship that has brought them and even before it leaves he sees someone or something near to a bear pole and an uneasy feeling starts to creep in. He soon realises this island Gruhuken is haunted.
When the long nights descend on the arctic things start to go wrong and things beset his colleagues and they have to leave one by one . He is left alone except for the huskies and he knows something else walks this Island.
He hears footsteps and sees a man outside the window near the bear pole and it always looks like it’s coming closer to the hut. The dogs are jittery and nervous. He has nightmares and longs for the ship to come collect him when the frozen sea melts. But something gets in ....
"Do not listen to this on your own in the dark"
Excellent story , excellent narration - very satisfying listen which stays in your mind during and afterwards!
"Unexpectedly delightful brilliance"
I'm not really into this kind of novel, but noticed some of the reviews here and, happily, bought it.
The narration really shines, and manages to add that special something to the story.
Wish I could un-hear it to enjoy it again!
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