Day 1: Dark Matter - A Ghost Story

First day of my October theme!!

Day One: Review the Scariest Book You've Ever Read

I'm not going to lie, I chose this as the first day prompt because I read an amazingly great scary book recently and I've been literally dying to blog about it.  It's a ghost story book, so I felt it totally qualified.  (As a side note, second runner up was definitely Something Wicked This Way Comes--one of my top books of all time.  Third would be One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.) But number one is

Dark Matter - A Ghost Story by Michelle Paver

This book was loaned to me by my darling Georg.  Georg is a wealth of information and passion on the north of Scandinavia, which is the setting of this book, and I trusted his taste when he told me Dark Matter was a great and scary read.  I kind of devoured it in two days.   The writing was superb because it wasn't overly complicated--simple and to the point, the way a good ghost story should always be.  It was a pretty short book as well, but still managed to be suspenseful.  Some parts literally had me gripping the edges of the pages in anticipation.

Plotwise; a young poor London telegraph operator who is slightly jaded by his poorness and loneliness, is approached by some young rich lads with dreams of spending a year in Norway's dark region of the north.  They want him to be the radio operator while they do research (set in 1937, when England was keeping a wary eye on Germany.) Jack, the telegraph operator, accepts the job and the first part of the book takes place as they're preparing to leave England.

At first it's exciting; going up north, a new life experience, getting to know each other, all that fun stuff.  Then the big burly Norwegian ship captain warns them extensively about the place they've chosen to set up camp.  He almost doesn't take them to begin with.  Scary.  He doesn't explain anything and opts to leave the Englishmen there hurriedly and get himself, his ship and crew out.  I won't spoil too much of the book from there, but it works heavily on themes of darkness (the sun sets for good around September and they're left with only moonlight) and cabin fever as well as a supernatural being who resides in the area.  It's a terrifying combination: dark, aloneness, a vengeful ghost.

And yet the book was touching in a way too, which I think is the reason I liked it so much. The main character starts out so gloomy and poor and hardened and then as he spends time in the north he becomes more broken and in need of human contact.  He is a typical lonely child who had to grow up too fast and watching him work through his emotions (while being terrified) is really heart-wrenching.  Then of course the end of the book had me bawling like a freaking baby for a few hours and I had to take a recovery day just to readjust to the present.

One of the best books I have ever read and definitely the scariest book I've ever read.  Georg strikes again!


  1. Grunken, a trip for the whole family!

  2. Sue // As It SeemsOctober 3, 2013 at 7:14 AM

    This book sounds fantastic! I'll have to put it at the top of my October must read list.