Fortnight of Fright 2016 | Halloween Book Recommendations (Anna from A Literary Potion)

FoF2014

Welcome to our fourth annual FORTNIGHT OF FRIGHT event!
October 17th – October 31st, 2016

Thanks for checking out the FOURTH annual edition of FORTNIGHT OF FRIGHT where Alyssa (Books Take You Places), Amy (Tripping Over Books), and I bring you two full weeks of Halloween-related posts! We’ve invited bloggers, authors, and book lovers alike to share their favorite things about Halloween and we feature a new person and post each day. 

Today, Anna from A Literary Potion is sharing a Halloween reading recommendation! Check out her rec below!


Dark Matter by Michelle Paver
Dark Matter by Michelle Paver
Published in September 2011 by Orion Books
Paperback, 288 pages
Rating: ★★★★☆ [4.5/5]

Out of nowhere, for no reason, I was afraid. My skin pickled. My heart thudded in my throat. My body knew before I did that I was not alone…
London, 1937. Jack is poor, lonely and desperate to change his life, so when he’s offered the chance to join an Arctic expedition, he jumps at it. Spirits are high as the ship leaves Norway and at last they reach the remote, uninhabited bay where they will camp for the next year.
But the Arctic summer is brief. As night returns to claim the land, Jack feels a creeping unease. One by one, his companions are forced to leave. Soon Jack will see the last of the sun, the sea will freeze and escape will be impossible.
And Jack is not alone. Something walks there in the dark…
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This book is more than a ghost story; it is a perfectly executed tale of the descent into madness.

The story centres around Jack, who wants to escape his lonely life in London. He signs up to be part of an expedition to the High Arctic, to Spitsbergen. Originally setting out with four companions, one by one they are all forced to abandon the expedition, leaving Jack to overwinter alone. As the nights close in, Jack’s mind begins to turn on him.

Michelle Paver has created a truly gripping tale, one that reveals a little bit more of itself each time I read it. The setting, a remote bay called Gruhuken in Spitsbergen, is stunning. She evokes the raw beauty of the Arctic wilderness and follows it as it steadily begins to threaten rather than entice. The stark difference between the constant summer and the polar night are wonderfully written. At first, Jack is happy to be so far away from civilisation. He wants to feel like a true explorer, coming to a place that has not been inhabited before. The isolation Jack finds himself in stops being a relief and starts being a danger when he is left alone.

Jack is a wonderful narrator. The story is told in journal form and the writing begins to change as Jack’s fears manifest themselves, you can trace the insanity as it grips Jack and forces him to hide from his own mind. I loved Jack’s stubbornness and his mental strength despite everything, his ability to find the small bits of respite wherever he can. The other characters are given a clear bias through Jack’s eyes, and the later addition of one or two other characters (one of which is a dog) show the full contrast between Jack’s behaviour when he is alone to when he has company of some sort.

The power in this story is not in dramatic scares, but in the lingering fears in the back of your mind, the fear of the dark, and what lies in the darkness, waiting. The way your mind slowly turns on itself the longer you stay in the place of fear, until you start doubting everything you see or hear. How acknowledging that fear can sometimes invite it in.

This book is incredibly well-written. I am not a huge fan of ghost stories but this will always be my favourite for how blurred the lines are between fiction and reality, and how it portrays the heavy toll the constant darkness takes on the human mind. Just hearing the word ‘Gruhuken’ makes me shudder and not want to turn my back to the room.


Thanks so much, Anna! This sounds like such a great recommendation — so spooky!!! I can’t do ghost stories (way too scary haha!) and it sounds like it’s positively creepy… Perfect for Halloween!!  

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