*Contains no spoilers
This is the ultimate Arctic voyage novel, based on real events. The 1913 Canadian voyage on the Karluk was the worst planned arctic mission in history. The captain declared the boat unsuitable on seeing it and the crew consisted of a rag-tag bunch of wannabes with no experience in Arctic weather. The scientists on the voyage had never stepped out of a classroom.
This is Jennifer Niven’s first book and in terms of language, pacing, historical research and creating larger-than-life characters on board the ship, she has done an incredible job.
In her hands, this historical account reads like a first-rate novel and thunders along at a cracking pace. It’s really one of the better books I have read in a long time. I have never read anything in this genre before – i.e. Arctic voyages, but after reading this, I could see how these kinds of books could become addictive.
Niven deftly and expertly crafts the narrative including how the crew manage to survive in the harsh polar winter, with plenty of evocative descriptions of the quality of the wind and the cracking forboding nature of the ice breaking around them, as the Karluk is stranded and floating on a wayward ice floe.
I won’t give away any of the story here. This is really worth getting and reading if you want to envelope yourself in pure escapism of a tension-filled thriller in an inhospitable land, all from the warmth and comfort of your own sofa.