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Dark Matter [Hardcover]

Michelle Paver
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (327 customer reviews)

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Book Description

21 Oct 2010

'What is it? What does it want? Why is it angry with me?'

January 1937.

Clouds of war are gathering over a fogbound London. Twenty-eight year old Jack is poor, lonely and desperate to change his life. So when he's offered the chance to be the wireless operator on an Arctic expedition, he jumps at it.

Spirits are high as the ship leaves Norway: five men and eight huskies, crossing the Barents Sea by the light of the midnight sun. At last they reach the remote, uninhabited bay where they will camp for the next year. Gruhuken.

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. He faces a stark choice. Stay or go.

Soon he will see the last of the sun, as the polar night engulfs the camp in months of darkness. Soon he will reach the point of no return - when the sea will freeze, making escape impossible.

And Gruhuken is not uninhabited. Jack is not alone.

Something walks there in the dark.

Product details

Read an extract from Dark Matter [PDF]
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Orion; First Edition edition (21 Oct 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1409123782
  • ISBN-13: 978-1409123781
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 22.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (327 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 36,437 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born in Malawi to a Belgian mother and a father who ran the tiny 'Nyasaland Times', Michelle Paver moved to the UK when she was three. She was brought up in Wimbledon and, following a Biochemistry Degree from Oxford, she became a partner in a big City law firm. She gave up the City to follow her long-held dream of becoming a writer. Successfully published as an adult author, the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness were her first books for children and her brilliant new series, Gods and Warriors, is just beginning . . .

Product Description


Dark Matter is terrific....(a) wild beast that grabs you by the neck (Helen Rumblelow THE TIMES)

Dark Matter is a spellbinding read - the kind of subtly unsettling, understated ghost story MR James might have written had he visited the Arctic (Eric Brown THE GUARDIAN)

Gruhuken is reportedly haunted, and hints as to why are skilfully drip-fed through a tense and strangely beautiful narrative that bristles with the static electricity of a stark, vast, frozen Arctic night (METRO)

Bestselling children's author Paver's genuinely terrifying tale will have you shaking under the covers (PSYCHOLOGIES)

Atmospheric and decidedly unsettling (WOMAN & HOME)

It's a cracker of a read, set in the 1930s and a blisteringly cold Arctic winter (DOVE GRAY READER)

You have plenty of time to clear your TBR piles to make room for this book as it won't be published until October, but make room you should as Michelle Paver's Dark Matter is a ghost story of terrific menace written with consummate skill (CORNFLOWER BOOKS)

I loved this story. I couldn't put it down. It's as creepy as an M R James ghost story and yet, even though it's set in the 1930s, it doesn't feel self-consciously dated as many neo-Gothic stories do. It feels absolutely relevant. Not many people can write historical fiction without anachronism but with a contemporary feel and Michelle Paver is one of them. Dark Matter comes highly recommended (THE BOOK BAG)

I was hooked right away and finished it in just a few days. Dark Matter is the kind of horror story that can chill just about anyone (LITERARY STEW)

Dark Matter is one of the spookiest stories I've read in recent years. It's not a teen novel, but unsurprisingly, given Michelle Paver's background, the style shares many YA traits. The main character, Jack, has a strong voice and the writing is tight. The pace builds gradually, yet Michelle Paver keeps the action moving and doesn't stray into superfluous description. Everything in this book has been retained for a reason (CHICKLISH)

Definitely a book to read in large bites (if not in one mouthful) if you are a lover of the strange and chilling (MIDLETON BOOKS)

Dark Matter is a true ghost story. It will chill, terrify, and haunt you, while still leaving you feeling satisfied. I cannot praise this book enough. Perfectly written (EMPIRE OF BOOKS)

Paver has written a seriously good, very original, genuinely creepy story and for that, we must say mange takk (Norwegian for thanks) (Toni Whitmont BOOKTOPIA)

Dark Matter got my attention from the very first pages (Sarah Clarke THE BOOKSELLER)

A scary tale that explores issues of class and love (Ruth Hunter THE BOOKSELLER)

Paver creates and describes a wonderfully atmospheric setting; one nervously begins to hear the harsh wind blowing and to feel the unbearable cold (Rodney Troubridge THE BOOKSELLER)

Winter is the perfect time to enjoy a good ghost story and Michelle Paver's unsettling psychological novel, Dark Matter, really fits the bill (Sue Scholes THE BOOKSELLER)

Paver once again brings her distinctive style to DARK MATTER. A lot of attention is paid to the natural landscape, making it a captivating read for the explorer's heart. DARK MATTER has a very strong sense of realism, testimony of the thorough research involved, and of Paver's own experience in the Arctic circle (SONGS OF THE FOREST blog)

I needed to read this for a job I have. It is a ghost story, and a pretty successful one, judging by the fact that I had to sleep with the lights on for three days after. Either it's pretty good or I'm a pretty big wuss. It's about an expedition in the 1930s to the Arctic. Once the sun disappears entirely for the winter, they start seeing a man who walks the shore near their cabin. Nothing much more than that happens, there's not much gore, but it's still impressively scary (BOOKISH)

Dark Matter while easily accessible, is more than a chilling read. It carries a poignancy that lingers, not unlike the frozen island of Gruhuken (MSLEXIA)

'For teenagers, we're recommending Dark Matter by Michelle Paver. A crossover book straddling both older teens and adults, it's a chilling ghost story set in the stark, desolate environment of the Arctic. Subtle and evocative, it's an absorbing and intelligent read. Not many people can write historical fiction without anachronism but with a contemporary feel and Michelle Paver is one of them. (THE BOOK BAG)

an artful exercise in suggested menace (SFX)

really grips you (FLIPSIDE)

This is a book written for the adult market but will be enjoyed just as much by many readers who fall within the so-called Young Adult age range. There is no bad language, no sex, no blood or gore - this is pure ghost story that relies on a mastery of the craft of writing to create a sense of lingering terror in the reader that will not go away easily once the book is finished (BOOKZONE4BOYS)

The very best ghost stories usually concern the predicaments of the living rather than the return of the dead. It's a point appreciated by Michelle Paver, whose haunting new novella so cleverly illustrates how it is fear, rather than death, which is the great leveller (THE LADY)

It's 1937, and a Londoner named Jack jumps at the chance to be a wireless operator on an expedition to the Norwegian Arctic. The group of young Englishmen arrives in the uninhabited bay where they will spend the next year. But as the Arctic night falls, Jack's companions start to leave - and something else is out there (SAGA)

This is the perfect present to yourself now that we're going into winter and the need arises for darker, scarier reads. Trust me: you won't be sorry (MY FAVOURITE BOOKS)

Dark Matter is to me, exactly the sort of Horror story I enjoy ¿ the one that scares but at the same time unveils something about human condition (THE BOOK SMUGGLERS)

Told in the increasingly fearful words of Jack as he writes in his journal, this is a blood-curdling ghost story, evocative not just of icy northern wastes but of a mind as, trapped, it turns in on itself (DAILY MAIL)

The sense of fear as Jack slowly began to lose his mind imagining things that had moved or appeared was palpable and made for very chilly reading (THE BOOK WHISPERER)

Dark Matter is a successful cross between The Riddle of the Sands and The Call of the Wild, set in Svalbard (BOOKWITCH)

A terrifying 1930s ghost story set in the haunting wilderness of the far north (PIPER AT THE GATES OF FANTASY)

Paver has created a tale of terror and beauty and wonder. Mission accomplished: at last, a story that makes you check you've locked all the doors, and leaves you very thankful indeed for the electric light. In a world of CGI-induced chills, a good old-fashioned ghost story can still clutch at the heart (Suzi Feay FINANCIAL TIMES)

Jack becomes sure that an evil presence is trying to drive him away from Gruhuken. Paver records his terror with compassion, convincing the reader that he believes everything he records while leaving open the possibility that his isolation - and the class barrier he feels so acutely - has made him peculiarly susceptible to emotional disturbance. The novel ends in tragedy that is as haunting as anything else in this deeply affecting tale of mental and physical isolation (Joan Smith SUNDAY TIMES)

The ultimate test of a good ghost story is, surely, whether you feel panicked reading it in bed at midnight; two-thirds through, I found myself suddenly afraid to look out of the windows, so I'll call it a success (Emma John THE OBSERVER)

Paver is the mistress of suspense, and the strangeness that humans can suffer from when exposed to the Arctic wilderness is brilliantly exploited in this period piece (Amanda Craig THE TIMES)

Dark Matter is the perfect terrifying read for those who, well, love to be terrified! (BOOKSYOULOVE)

a very atmospheric read (Erica Wagner THE TIMES')

Neither (Susan) Hill nor Paver allows any doubt. Their ghosts seem real enough. Paver's is, I think, the more disturbing, her vision of an eternally dark world of snow and fear the more convincing, her pattern of mood and suggestion the more satisfying (GLASGOW SUNDAY HERALD)

'Dark Matter is brilliant. Imagine Jack London meets Stephen King. The novel virtually defines a new genre: literary creepy. I loved it.¿ (Jeffery Deaver)


I read the final 100 pages on that Wednesday evening and I only realised how wrapped up in it I was when I reached out to reassure the dog. We don¿t have a dog, but Jack did (FITCH RABBITS ON)

This is a great read and I can't wait for Michelle's next book to come out if it is anything like this one (THE FRINGE)

'The Arctic is a deliciously devilish setting for this horror whodunit. The eternal night and the expedition¿s bay is wonderfully reminiscent of ¿30 Days of Night¿ (ALPHA READER)

Disquieting and piognant in equal measure, Paver's novel reminds us that fear of the dark is the oldest fear of all. An ideal read for long winter evenings (Val Nolan IRISH EXAMINER)

Also, for a female writer, she has an embarrassingly solid grasp on what makes these boy's adventures so indulgently fun. Building huts, surviving from rations, using a mix of scientific and practical knowledge to keep yourself alive and comfortable in an inhospitable environment. These are the hidden joys of the majority of male fiction, from Tintin to Mad Max and boy does Paver nail it (THE HERBERT WEST MEMORIAL SCIENTIFIC JOURNAL)

Dark Matter is all about atmosphere and tension. It's a ghost story in the truest sense of the word, and isn't far removed from classic movies like Psycho and Poltergeist (WONDROUS READS)

this is a bleak memorable novel that will have you asking questions of the shadows (DIVA)

It's an elegantly told tale with a vivid sense of place - and it's deeply scary (Lesley Glaister SUNDAY HERALD GLASGOW)

I was captivated by Paver's Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series for children so I couldn't wait to read her first adult ghost story (Emma Lee Potter DAILY EXPRESS)

There is an icy thrill to this gripping ghost story (CHOICE)

A rare example of storytelling at its finest (SCHOOL LIBRARIAN)

deliciously unsettling ghost story...Original, highly readable and truly chilling, this is an accomplished and compelling read (GOOD BOOK GUIDE)

Everything you could want from a ghost story and more - her ability to describe a setting so perfectly that you can see it in your mind's eye is amazing. Wow, basically (WATERSTONES BOOKS QUARTERLY)

Book Description

A terrifying 1930s ghost story set in the haunting wilderness of the far north.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
111 of 119 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A chilly thrill! 26 Oct 2010
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Michelle Paver is best-known for her very enjoyable young adult series `The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness'. Dark Matter is not Paver's first adult novel but it is her first ghost story. It is an eerie story set in the Arctic in the late 1930s. Dark Matter is told in the first person through the journal of Jack Miller. Jack Miller is poor and eager to change his life so when four upper-class young men offer him the chance to be a wireless operator on an Arctic expedition he jumps at the chance even though the difference in their class makes him the odd man out.

The expedition seems to be doomed from the start and there are inklings of chilling things to come on the deserted bay of Gruhuken.
What makes Dark Matter so effective is Paver's clever evocation of the stark and desolate landscape of the Arctic and Jack's increasing isolation as the novel progresses. It is more of a psychological novel than a gory sort of ghost story but the best ghost stories often are. It is the suggestion of the ghost which creates the most suspense and there is a genuine sense of unease throughout the novel which Paver manages to keep up all the way through.

What I also liked is the relationships in the novel which I felt lifted it from the normal, run-of-mill ghost story into something really interesting. The tense relationships between Jack and his fellow explorers - Gus and Algie being the main ones and Gus in particular- and Jack's relationship with the husky Isaak which is finely portrayed and the most warming part in a very chilly novel!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very effective 21 Oct 2010
By M. Dale
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
It's hard to write much about this book without spoiling the plot, so this will be brief. Set just before WWII in the 30s, the book follows the story of a scientific expedition to the Arctic in the form of the journal of one of its members.

Although it's slow to start, what follows is a genuinely creepy and at times intense story. Fans of blood and gore won't be impressed as this is very much a psychological thriller, but I enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it to others to read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping 23 Feb 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm not a fan of ghost stories, but I like the odd one or two and this one is no exception. A crossover/adult novel which definitely gave me the creeps and I'm not easily moved. Set in Spitsbergen in 1937, 5 young hopefuls plan a geographical expedition to study weather, glaciers etc, but just before departure two have to drop out and three set off. The Norwegian ship captain is reluctant to take them to their exact destination, but with much persuasion eventually does, without telling them the reason for his reluctance. However once there, Jack Miller starts to experience strange feelings and premonitions which he records in his diary. When another colleague gets sick and the two of them have to depart for a while, Jack offers to stay and as it approaches the time of year for perpetual darkness, so his fears, imaginings and visions increase. He discovers that the area is believed to be haunted by a former miner who was murdered, but is it, or is it the madness of lonliness and darkness setting in? A very good read, keeping you gripped as the ending approaches and not at all fully predicatble. More please. Also remind me of The Solitude of Thomas Cave.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad 19 Feb 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Michelle Paver has written a lot for children and on one level this story is told in a very simplistic way. Aspects of the book however are quite spooky. The main character, for example, talks about how he doesn't like to wear his snow shoes when he is out in the Tundra alone; they make a sound like someone is following in the darkness. It is not difficult to imagine the eeriness of Jack's plight but as the story gains momentum it seems to end a little abruptly.

If you like ghost stories do read this book, but don't read it laid on the sofa whilst the kids play on the Wii. Read it in bed at night with your bedside light casting shadows and the wind whistling at the window - you will be chilled. As for the reviewer who read it alone in an isolated farmhouse, I wouldn't do that in a million years!
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A proper page-turner 25 Oct 2010
I ordered this book on the strength of a review in The Guardian - and I'm so glad I did! I was intrigued by the premise: living the long Arctic night in the company of a ghost. The writing is superb - so evocative, and the descriptions of both the natural environment (northern lights, the colours of sunset on snow) and of the expedition members' day-to-day lives was beautifully done.

The shocks in this book are well-placed. I'm a lover of a good ghost story, and I found I was holding my breath and pulling away from the page through some passages - the literary equivalent of watching from behind the sofa! I found that once I'd started, I couldn't leave Jack and needed to find out what happened next. I loved his relationship with Isaak, and had my heart in my mouth as much for him as for Jack on some pages.

Jack's assertions that what he has seen is real, the discomfort of the chartered ship's captain, and foreshadowing of some events combine to create unease about the reliability of the narrator - when reading the book, I was sure that Jack was right, but on reflection...? Perhaps images of Algie's over-enthusiasm for hunting, or of the Thames man, or simply the stories told by the captain had been working away at the back of his mind, to torture Jack during the long night. Whichever way, it's a fabulous piece of writing.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric - brilliant book
I have recommended this book to all my friends. I absolutely loved it. I really hope the author decides to write another novel. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Donna
5.0 out of 5 stars Possibly the scariest novel I've read so far. Slow ...
Possibly the scariest novel I've read so far. Slow burning but gripping and disturbing. Ideally to be read on a dark winter's evening with snow blowing against the window.
Published 1 day ago by Dr L Edwards
5.0 out of 5 stars A favourite
I love this book. The characters are defined, the writing beautifully descriptive and the suspense excellent. Read more
Published 10 days ago by Mr. C. D. Murphy
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A great ghost story about fear and solitude in an icy landscape! well recommended
Published 21 days ago by Ms. AC Glover
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Boring story, was very disappointed but that isn't the sellers fault!!
Published 22 days ago by Shirley
3.0 out of 5 stars Great potential, but ultimately flawed.
There was great potential in the isolated setting, the book was well written and easy to follow, yet.... There was just something missing. Read more
Published 1 month ago by euge
4.0 out of 5 stars A chilling and beautiful book that I can't quite forget!
This book still gives me the chill's and I read it around 3 years ago. Its written in a way that allows your imagination to build a picture and then takes you along for the ride. Read more
Published 1 month ago by SMD
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by Julie Frost
5.0 out of 5 stars Very well written, very very creepy!
I read this on holiday on a tiny Scottish island in a bothy with only gas-lighting and the nearest neighbour miles away! Read more
Published 1 month ago by Ian Read
5.0 out of 5 stars good book !
got me thinking about my own -inner dialogue.

I enjoyed it very much and would suggest others give it a go.
Published 2 months ago by Matthew East
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