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Dark Matter Hardcover – 21 Oct 2010

378 customer reviews

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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: 14.5 x 2.5 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (378 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 133,496 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

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

113 of 121 people found the following review helpful By Charliecat on 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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Noel on 28 Nov. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book made me shiver, not with ghostly fear but by the evocation of the ice and cold of the Spitzbergen winter. The author's descriptive skills were augmented by a real storm which battered my bedroom window as I read late into the night. The style is reminiscent of a Victorian melodrama, though set in 1937.

This is more of a novella than a novel, 250 pages of large font type liberally scattered with full page sketches of icebergs and other cold things. A very quick read and it is probably best read in one sitting to maximise the atmospheric effect. Scarey it is not, though I did suffer mild shock when my next door neighbour's dog unexpectedly poked his head around my bedroom door. If you want a more genuinely frightening read about Spitzbergen try the true story 'Ice Bears and Kotik'.Ice Bears & Kotick: Rowing on Top of the World
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Crookedmouth HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 9 Oct. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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."
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By V. G. Harwood on 6 May 2013
Format: Paperback
I did enjoy reading this story, but as I progressed through the story I felt that it was trying too hard. Suggested further reading at the back of the book points the reader in the direction of Susan Hill and the ghost stories of M R James and I couldn't help but feel that this story wanted to be like the works of those authors, but something was somehow lacking to put it in that class. The story itself tells the tale of class-conscious Jack who joins an expedition to the Arctic and then, after several mishaps befall the group, ends up on his own with a bunch of huskies (who soon abandon him) with just the resident ghost. There are some nice parallels in the story - I couldn't help but compare the boy's own hero of Gus, the expedition leader, to the unfortunate, maligned, "God-forgotten", character of who the ghost had been in life; and there is a nice circularity in the way the tale ends because of these parallels (I won't spoil it). There was an awful lot of compare and contrast in the novel and after a bit it all started to strike me as being a bit self-conscious (hence my criticism of "trying too hard"). There is some good writing and good description, but I've read other books in the past setting out an Arctic setting and I didn't get the same feeling of "chill" from this book which I have found in other author's descriptions of a similar landscape. Geraldine McCaughrean's The White Darkness, for instance, will have you reaching for a duvet on a summer's day; as will any Willa Cather's frontier tales. It's a quick easy read and won't take too much of your time, but on the whole, I found it all a bit average.Read more ›
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