From 30/9/15 – “Review of ‘Dark Matter’ by Michelle Paver…”

Just had to shout out about Michelle Paver’s diary-form ghost story called “Dark Matter”. I don’t usually read this genre but the book is very well-textured with a ring of authenticity about 1930’s polar exploration. Paver’s homework shines throughout the book and I couldn’t put it down.

My favourite line occurs near the beginning, when Jack Miller meets his companions-to-be on the 1937 Spitsbergen Expedition for the first time. Class means a lot to Jack and he feels very disadvantaged compared to Hugo, Teddy, Algie and Gus:

“… I knew I hadn’t a chance, so I thought to hell with it, give it to them straight: offer yourself like a lamb to the slaughter (if lambs can snarl)…”

and then a bit further on,

“… think you can take it?

“I gritted my teeth and told him that was why I wanted to go: for the challenge. Oh, they liked that. I expect it’s the sort of thing you’re taught at public school…”

The somewhat literary writing style interested me as well. There is a lot of advice out there for writer’s to use short sentences, cutting straight to the actions, with simple punctuation and no adverbs. Paver doesn’t do that – she writes in the style that her book needs and it’s stronger for that, it really takes us into the world of Jack Miller’s inner voice. Something for us other writers to reflect on for a moment, I think…


Published by Lee J. Russell

Often having a Cold War influence, my stories explore desperate situations that take people to their physical and emotional limits. Find me on Twitter as @LeeJ_Russell or at

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