The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton #bookreview

On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the stunning new novel by Stuart Turton, The Devil and the Dark Water.

BLURB

An impossible murder
A remarkable detective duo
A demon who may or may not exist

It’s 1634 and Samuel Pipps, the world’s greatest detective, is being transported from the Dutch East Indies to Amsterdam, where he is facing trial and execution for a crime he may, or may not, have committed. Travelling with him is his loyal bodyguard, Arent Hayes, who is determined to prove his friend innocent, while also on board are Sara Wessel, a noble woman with a secret, and her husband, the governor general of Batavia.

But no sooner is their ship out to sea than devilry begins to blight the voyage. A strange symbol appears on the sail. A dead leper stalks the decks. Livestock are slaughtered in the night. And then the passengers hear a terrible voice whispering to them in the darkness, promising them three unholy miracles. First: an impossible pursuit. Second: an impossible theft. Third: an impossible murder. Could a demon be responsible for their misfortunes?

With Pipps imprisoned, only Arent and Sara can solve a mystery that stretches back into their past and now threatens to sink the ship, killing everybody on board.

MY THOUGHTS

I was a huge fan of Stuart Turton’s debut novel, The Seven and a Half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, so I couldn’t wait to see what he would come up with next. As I was reading his latest book, The Devil and the Dark Water, it put me in my mind of both, Sherlock Holmes and the Hound of the Baskervilles and Pirates of the Caribbean. It’s quite a long book, but don’t let that put you off, I thought the writing was highly addictive, and I flew through it. I finished it much quicker than I thought I would.

A ship named the Saardam is about to set sail on an arduous seven-month voyage for Amsterdam from Batavia. For some of the passengers, they are put up in luxury cabins, but the majority are staying in cramped and horrific conditions. But even before the voyage begins, there are rumours of a demon, known as ‘Old Tom.’ It is believed that this demon is already on board the ship. There are some who are desperate to make sure that this ship doesn’t sail. Right from the beginning, Stuart Turton creates a real sense of mystery and atmosphere. Is there really such a thing as ‘Old Tom?’ Or is this just the minds of some of the passengers going into overdrive? But it is clear to some that this ship will never reach its destination and danger awaits everyone on board. Soon mysterious things begin to happen, strange symbols start to appear, animals are slaughtered, and then a body is found. That makes everyone on this ship a suspect, and it also means that everyone else is in danger until they are caught.

Throughout the book, the pace never lets up. Stuart Turton has created a cast of characters who pull you into the story. They are all very different, and you get a real sense of palpable fear among them on board the ship. This is particularly when rumours about ‘Old Tom’ begin to swirl. It makes for some gripping reading. I began to wonder just how the passengers were going to react as the tension between them begins to grow. This is especially when they all begin to suspect each other of harbouring ‘Old Tom,’ and there are calls for executions. It appears to be the only way of making sure that ‘Old Tom,’ is vanquished once and for all.

Also onboard the ship is the world’s most famous detective, Samuel Pipps. However, he is incarcerated in chains when he first boards the ship. So when the strange happenings begin to occur on the Saardam, it is his assistant, Arent Hayes who has to do the investigating. This is what reminded me of the friendship between Watson and Sherlock Holmes as I was reading.

This book will definitely take you on a wild ride. I really enjoyed it. If you are looking for something original and totally unique, then this is the book for you. It is a read that you can purely escape in to. Stuart Turton is a master storyteller and plotter, and I can’t wait to see what he writes next.

Publisher: Raven Books

Publication date: 1st October 2020

Print length: 576 pages

The Devil and the Dark Water is available to buy:

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The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton Book Review

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A brilliantly original high concept murder mystery from a fantastic new talent: Gosford Park meets Inception, by way of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express

One of Stylist Magazine’s 20 Must-Read Books of 2018
One of Harper’s Bazaar’s 10 Must-Read Books of 2018
One of Marie Claire, Australia’s 10 Books You Absolutely Have to Read in 2018

‘Somebody’s going to be murdered at the ball tonight. It won’t appear to be a murder and so the murderer won’t be caught. Rectify that injustice and I’ll show you the way out.’

It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed.

But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot.

The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath…

MY THOUGHTS

Wow, I can only imagine how much plotting went into the creation of this book. This is one hell of a psychological thriller. It is utterly unique with a cast of intriguing characters. This is going to be one of the most talked about books of 2018. Stuart Turton’s novel is a mind-bending piece of work. It’s hard to believe that this is his debut!

As the novel opens, Dr Sebastian Bell finds himself in the grounds of Blackheath house with one word on his lips – Anna, he is screaming into the night. But he has no memory of what has befallen him before he arrived in this place. And as he becomes reacquainted with himself, he is presented with a task. Someone is going to be murdered in the house tonight the daughter of the owner, Evelyn Hardcastle. To escape the house and find out who he truly is our lead character must solve her murder, but he has eight rivals, and only one of them will be freed. And until one of them can discover who kills her, the day will repeat itself over and over again.

Stuart opens the story with plenty of intrigue both for his main character and the reader; I found this such a fascinating idea as his character is finding out information about himself the same time the reader is, it was fascinating to see his reactions to revelations about his own past. Our main character, Aiden Bishop, who has come to Blackheath to solve Evelyn’s murder, becomes attached to one particular character which proves tumultuous for his time at Blackheath. I had no idea where this story was going to go.

When I first started reading this book, I was worried that I was going to find the story hard to follow, particularly as the plot of the novel is so complex, and Stuart packs a lot of information into this book about the characters and their murky pasts. But I really didn’t have any trouble at all in understanding the plot, and I didn’t have any difficulty in keeping track with the character changes.

Stuart’s writing is utterly absorbing as he takes the reader into the heart of Blackheath. There is a race against the clock element to the story as Aiden races to solve the murder ahead of those he is competing against. The difficulty here is that he does not know who he is up against so it isn’t a case where he can work out their weaknesses or even work out the strength of his own position.

The ending of this book has left me wondering if perhaps there is a sequel in the works. I would love to find out more about the characters, and it would be fascinating to see how Stuart would choose to visit this world again if he decides to do so, I don’t think your mind will ever quite leave Blackheath once you have finished reading. Thank you to the publisher and to Netgalley for providing me with a copy of the book to read.

Publisher: Bloomsbury Raven

Publication date: 8th February 2018

Print length: 528 pages

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