Though The Devil and The Dark Water is listed as Metaphysical Science Fiction, at it’s heart is a great deal of crime.
This book is as full of ups and downs as the stormy seas it sails into. Arent Hayes is Sammy’s protector, even though Sammy has been accused of a crime, they don’t know what that crime is. Sara is a mother doing little to protect herself, but everything to protect her daughter from her father. Sara endures an uncaring husband intent on torturing her. But there is more to Governor General Jan Haan than there appears. The fact that they are facing a huge voyage from Batavia to Amsterdam is the backdrop for the supernatural events that run through the story. And the supernatural starts before they even step off the dock and onto the boat. On board we gradually learn more of the crew and passengers and how they are all interconnected in unexpected ways. Then the Devil lights a light, and kills – well it would be a spoiler to say what is killed. The Devil, it seems works in mysterious ways.
So does Mr Turton! This is his second book and the second that I’ve read. And the second that I’ve loved.
The characters are full of surprises, but they are well-rounded and real, I found myself loving and hating in equal measure, not to mention, understanding where they were coming from. No one was either the perfect paragon nor the pantomime villain, they were real. This works particularly well as an exploration of what fear and desperation can do to an enclosed group of people.
I worked out one part of the solution, but there was another part that came out of the blue to me, though when looking back over the book, the clues were there, I simply hadn’t see them. I don’t think I wanted to. Through the denouement everything is made sense of, and you look back and think, of course, how did I miss that? Simple – you’d have to be Sherlock Holmes to see it all, and even Samuel Pipps isn’t him. The book also keeps you guessing right up to the last page, the last paragraph even. It was brilliant.
I have to say, I loved this book and can imagine reading it again and getting more out of it the second time around.