“Ends not with a “BOO” but a whimper”

NO MAJOR SPOILERS

1937 and Jack, Gus and Algy set out on a scientific expedition to Svalbard. Against the advice of their guide, they set up camp at an abandoned trapping station at Gruhuken and wait for the sun to set for the long winter night. But something else has been waiting for the dark of the night.

I’m not normally one for ghost stories but this one came recommended so I gave it a go. It is very well written, in the form of Jack’s journal and it reads easily. The story seems like a fairly conventional “cabin in the woods” “24 hours of darkness” affair, nothing too complex or demanding. The early chapters build slowly as the characters set off on their adventure, settle down at the camp and watch the sun go down and there are some nice descriptive passages that convey the stark beauty and brooding menace of the landsacpe.

The haunting builds equally slowly, with a nicely handled, mounting sense of dread. This really spoke to me – and it will speak to anyone who has climbed the stairs in the dark after watching a scary movie, or walked down a dark country lane, wondering whether they can hear footsteps behind them. So, by the time I had reached the last third of the story (at about 11pm at night!) I was a little reluctant to turn off the lights!

However, while it promises a lot, the story falters in the final stages, this nicely crafted tension falls away and the nascent terror fizzles out. It remains an engaging and enjoyable /tale/ but the ghost story turns out to be a bit of an anti-climax.

Read it, enjoy it, but don’t expect to be left a quivering jelly of nerves when you finish it.

“The moon has waned. It’s just a slit in the sky. The dark is back. Once, I thought fear of the dark was the oldest fear of all. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe it’s not the dark that people fear, but what comes in the dark. What exists in it.”

Reviewed by:

Campbell McAulay

Added 14th May 2015

More Reviews By
Campbell McAulay

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