Book Review: The Dark

Thirteen of us. All Alone.

Emma Haughton ~ The Dark

Synopsis

In the most inhospitable environment – cut off from the rest of the world – there’s a killer on the loose.

A&E doctor Kate North has been knocked out of her orbit by a personal tragedy. So when she’s offered the chance to be an emergency replacement at the UN research station in Antarctica, she jumps at the chance. The previous doctor, Jean-Luc, died in a tragic accident while out on the ice.

The move seems an ideal solution for Kate: no one knows about her past; no one is checking up on her. But as total darkness descends for the winter, she begins to suspect that Jean-Luc’s death wasn’t accidental at all. And the more questions she asks, the more dangerous it becomes for them all…

Review

Traditionally, murders take place in large mansions, islands cut off from the mainland and isolated cabins. Yet, what is more desolate and bleak than Antarctica?

The setting for The Dark is incredible: atmospheric and beautifully dangerous. Nothing but ice and snow for miles around, in a place where there is less and less sunlight each day. Stuck in close proximity with colleagues in artificial light for months, it’s not surprising people would feel a little claustrophobic.

Descriptions of the outside world and the little details (like the lack of fresh food and the freezing of sweat) are excellent and we really feel Kate’s fear when she’s caught outside with no torch, fumbling in the dark to find her way back. These sections are powerful and terrifying.

However, the story lets the book down. It starts off very slowly, with multiple characters introduced. There’s a lot of diversity in the characters, but Kate judges them all by their appearance and we never get to know them as well as we should. I also wonder about the amount of alcohol (and weed) available at the station, as well as how on Earth Kate passed the medical checks for the role… The author hints at Kate’s past, but we are never sure what happened, which makes me think she wanted us to suspect Kate as well, especially considering her serious addiction, which would affect her reactions and perception.

It’s sold with one body and 12 suspects, but the first body (or lack thereof) is why Kate is there in the first place… and then all of a sudden, there are loads of them! I was quite invested in the story to begin with, but the second part feels very rushed and the ending is quite ridiculous! But if you’ve had a caesarean and think it’s feasible, please let me know…

The book is well-researched and the descriptions of the Antarctic are breath-taking. However, overall it’s disappointing and does not deliver a satisfactory ending.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Advanced copy provided by Grazia for their Book Club. All opinions my own.

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