Review by Nicola Smith – Short Book and Scribes

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton  19th August 2021

ISBN  ‎ 978-1529356601   HB

As soon as The Dark begins we are thrust into life in Antarctica in much the same
way as Dr Kate North. She is arriving at the ice station there to take up a role as the
doctor after the previous one died out on the ice. She’s also running away from the
aftermath of a tragic accident, one which has had a huge physical and emotional effect
on her.

I love stories that take place in settings like Antarctica. From the off there’s a real
sense of foreboding about the inhospitable nature of it. After all, for humans to live
there they have to rely completely on items that have been transported there. The only
natural thing they can use is the snow for water. I felt a shudder go down my spine
when 24 hour darkness descended, lasting for several months of the year. Add to that
the fact that Kate has been placed within an already established group and the sense
that something just isn’t quite right, and this is quite the unnerving read.

It took me a little while to get into. Just like Kate, I had to get to know the names,
nationalities and roles of all the characters, and I had to get used to the unusual
setting. However, I was very quickly drawn in to the action, to the feeling that some
people had a lot to hide. There are some really tense moments, none more so than
when Kate has to carry out a very unexpected procedure. I couldn’t take my eyes off
the page. I also really enjoyed reading about life at the ice station and imagining
trying to cope with all its limitations.

This is a locked room mystery but set somewhere that even if you escape you will
probably die. I got a very strong sense of how cold it was from the writing and that
alone was scary, never mind the fact that the previous doctor’s death might not have
been an accident and that amongst the residents of the ice station might be a very
dangerous person. I thought this was such a fantastic and atmospheric debut thriller,
dark in more ways than one.