Oct 19, 2021
The Dark by Emma Haughton uses the setting as a main character. This locked door mystery is a story about survival, drug abuse, hope, and the elements of Antarctica affecting how someone reacts to the environment as they betray and deceive others.
For me, “Antarctica is dark for about five months with no light at all 24/7. Anyone up there would be completely cut off. My brain thought, what could possibly go wrong? It would be impossible to get to the depths there. Planes would freeze if they tried to fly during the middle of winter. In summer it is cold but there is 24-hour daylight. In winter it is very, very cold, and dark. Water and electricity are limited, and there are small living quarters. It could be minus 40 degrees outside. Food and water are rationed. It is a very remote place. The ice station is a very prestigious to get a post on the ice station so many blog about it at length. It was a gold mine for me as a writer. There are also people on-line answering questions. I had an abundance of first-person experiences to draw upon.”
Dr. Kate North accepts the replacement position for the previous doctor, Jean-Luc, who died tragically at the UN Antarctic Ice Station (UNA). Kate has gone there to escape her own hardships and to find a fresh start. But after a few days she realizes that each of the twelve-person team has their own secrets. She begins to ask questions and finds the responses odd. After a body is found outside, she faces off with Sandrine, the person in charge. Sandrine thinks the cause of death is suicide, but Kate suspects murder. After she decides to investigate, Kate puts herself in jeopardy with everything becoming more dangerous.
“I had Dr. North’s emotions match the setting, harsh, bleak, and empty. She realizes it’s the humans versus the environment as well as humans versus humans. Kate recognizes it is easier to get someone back from the space station than from Antarctica during the middle of winter. She is claustrophobic. Because of her experience she is traumatized and upset. She finds it hard to connect with people. As the story progresses, she becomes brave; yet she is still very much vulnerable.”
The setting plays such an important role in the story. The author does a great job in describing how Kate experienced the silence, cold, and altitude when she first arrived. Readers feel as if they have taken the journey with her in the icy terrain with complete darkness, frigid temperatures, and the dangerous conditions. Kate begins to feel claustrophobic, as she realizes how she and the others are completely cut off from the rest of the world for months.
This thriller is compelling and will get readers hearts pounding. Tension is ratcheted up with the isolated setting. Members of the ice station must rely on each other, without any other contacts. Readers can relate given the fact that they also experienced lockdowns during the pandemic. What they might not have experienced is how Kate and the others are in danger.