seventy-five.

the Shining by Stephen King (1977)
 Jack Torrance is the winter caretaker of the Overlook hotel, high up in the Rocky Mountains, Colorado. He brings his wife, Wendy, and their 5 year old son, Danny and they will spend the winter in solitude. But Danny is not a normal boy, he can read minds and see the future, and he has very bad visions about the hotel.

Poor Danny and his visions! He tries to keep them to himself as his father really need this job so he won’t start drinking again and his parents won’t get divorced. When coming to the hotel he meets the cook who is leaving for the winter, and the cook explains to him how he has the shining and that the terrible things at the hotel can’t hurt him because they’re just images of the past.

I was surprised how complex the book is, there’s a lot of background information on the characters and family drama, and the hotel’s history is also interesting. But I also like how it doesn’t explain everything, the events at the end are still a bit fuzzy, but there’s no way I’m reading this book again.

I read a few Stephen King books in my youth and then I stopped because they really frightened me. Yet, I think the Shining is the most frightening of them all. I got a few nightmares thanks to this. And about ten times worse than the film adaptation. I need to see the film again, just to compare it to the book.

seventy-four.

Dark Matter by Michelle Paver (2010)
It’s all over, I’m not going. I can’t spend a year in the Arctic with that lot. They arrange to ‘meet for a drink’, then give me a grilling, and make it pretty clear what they think of a grammar-school boy with a London degree. Tomorrow I’ll write and tell them where to put their sodding expedition.”

Jack Miller is joining an expedition to Gruhuken, Spitsbergen in 1937. The expedition will consist of five men and they will spend a year in the Arctic. But the expedition has bad luck from the start, and only three men end up going. And the captain of the sealing boat they’re hitching a ride with, refuses to go all the way to Gruhuken.

Yes! A ghost story from the High Arctic is exactly what I needed at the darkest time of the year. This book had me right from the start and I couldn’t put it down. I’m glad I read this (and reading the Shining) in a house full of people and dogs instead of alone in my small apartment. 

I didn’t just like the book because it was scary, I really enjoyed the historical background and the details from how to take meteorological readings and using a wireless to the description of the (fictional) Gruhuken. And the pictures from Svalbard! 

“Fear of the dark. Until I came here, I thought that was for children; that you grew out of it. But it never really goes away. It’s always there underneath. The oldest fear of all. What’s at the back of the cave?”

thirty-three.

the Ritual by Adam Nevill (2011)

“And on the second day things did not get better. The rain fell hard and cold, the white sun never broke through the low grey cloud, and they were lost. But it was the dead thing they found hanging from a tree that changed the trip beyond recognition.”

Four English men in their late 30s, Luke, Hutch, Dom and Phil, are trekking in a remote area of Swedish Lapland. They decide to take a short-cut because of the bad condition two of the men are in. Then they find a large animal slaughtered in the worst way and hung high up in a tree. Not long after they come to an old abandoned building where they decide to spend the night. They quickly realise that the building has been used for some kind of ancient worship.

When Luke wakes up the next day after a very strange dream, he discovers that his friends have all been sleepwalking and all of them are in a state of shock. But this is just the beginning of the horror that only one of them will survive.

The beginning of the book didn’t impress me, but that was mainly because of horrible writing style. But it definitely gets better throughout the book. I really liked the twist when the story was most exciting, and I was also relieved because I couldn’t take one more minute of terror. This book would be perfect for the big screen. I will save Apartment 16 by Adam Nevill for the next time I want to be frightened again. But that won’t be any time in the near future as I’m sure I have enough nightmare material for a year now.

I will end this with two things from the second part of the book which was my favourite:

1. A Norwegian black metal band.

2. “Hearts torn out for the sun God in Mexico. Wretches ritually strangled and buried with their masters in ancient Britain. Simple people accused of witchcraft, pressed under stones and set alight in pyres of dry kindling. Commuters gassed in the Tokyo subway. Passengers flown through the side of buildings in jets full of fuel.
If only we could all stand up. All of us who have died unjustly for the Gods of the insane. There would be so many of us”

thirty-one.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818)

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A ship rescues a man drifting on ice in the Arctic. The captain writes home to his sister to tell her the strange tale of the man named Frankenstein. Frankenstein claims that he gave life to a horrible manlike monster who killed several of his family members because he refused to make a mate to the monster.
I have spent my whole life believing that the monster was named Frankenstein and now I know the truth. It took me forever to read the book, probably because I didn’t find the narrative of Frankenstein interesting at all until the first murder happened. And I finally started to enjoy the story when the monster started to speak. His story was far more interesting than Frankenstein’s, although I must question the way he learnt to read and write without being discovered, considering his size and all. Frankenstein certainly didn’t get any sympathy from me, but neither did the monster.
I haven’t seen any film adaptions of Frankenstein yet, and I doubt I will ever dare to do it on my own either as I imagine them being scarier than the book.

sixteen.

De døde by Vidar Sundstøl (2009)


This is the second book in the Minnesota trilogy, and it is really hard to write a review of it without spoiling the first book.

Lance Hansen is out hunting deer with his brother, Andy, for the weekend. The relationship between the brothers has never been easy and the only thing they really do together is this annual hunt. But this time, the hunt turns into a paranoia and a struggle between life and death.

I enjoyed this book more than the first. Probably because it was so thrilling and the only thing I didn’t like about it was the lenght – 175 pages is way too short. The third book in the trilogy is out in May, and I can’t wait to find out what happens in the end.

five.


Pandora in the Congo by Albert Sánchez Piñol (2005)


“This story began with three funerals and ended with one broken heart.”

Thomas Thomson is a young man hired to write the story of a man jailed for murdering two Brits in the Congo. The tale the prisoner, Garvey, tells is fantastic and Thomas has no problems believing every word of the story and the man’s innocence. Garvey explains how he happened to go to the Congo with the two sons of aristocrats, the way they treated their bearers and captured new ones, how they found the mine and how one day a tall weird white man came from the depths of the mine and then trouble began.

“My grandfather knew what he was talking about. The white men always do the same thing. First, missionaries arrive and threaten hell. Then, the merchants come and steal everything. Then, the soldiers. They’re all bad, but the new arrivals are always worse than the ones before them. First came Mr Tecton, who wanted us to believe in his God. Today the merchants appeared. And soon the soldiers will come up. I don’t want to be here when they arrive.”

The link between the prequel Cold Skin must be humanoid monsters living in remote parts of our world, but there is no direct link between the books, they are set in different places and even time.

It took a lot longer to get in to this book because it focuses a lot more on the writer and his present-time and not just on the story. I didn’t realise the importance of this before the very end, which is why this book is so brilliant. It is less thrilling, but the story is definitely much better than the prequel. I’m really looking forward to the last book in the trilogy which hasn’t been published yet.

four.

Cold Skin by Albert Sánchez Piñol (2002)


“We are never far from those we hate. For this very reason, we shall never be truly close to those we love. An appalling fact, I knew it well enough when I embarked. But some truths deserve our attention; others are best left alone”

A young man has taken up a post as the sole weather observer on a remote island close to Antarctica. When the ship arrives on the island, they can’t find the man’s predecessor, but find a lunatic man, Gruner, in the light house, the other building on the small island. The young man is looking forward to a year in solitude. But then the night falls on the first day and the reptile-like humanoid monsters arrive from the sea and the survival instinct takes over.

The young nameless man (I can’t decide if he is a hero or not) quickly realises that he won’t survive outside the lighthouse, and after a lot of struggle, Gruner finally lets him in and they coexist with little talk and the nightly struggle against the monsters. Gruner also holds one female monster as a slave, even having sex with it. The monsters are erratic in their attacks, but they seem to multiply in numbers each night.

The story is very gloomy, the only hope they have is to survive until the boat returns in a year, but they are running out of bullets and the monsters are getting cleverer and cleverer. And the men are getting more insane by the day.

But the book is really exciting, I read the 230 pages in a few hours because there is no boring moment in the book and I just had to know if they survived. I have already started on the sequel, Pandora in the Congo, and is really curious about what the link between the books is.

“February 25
They have finally appeared, and in great numbers. Our daily ration of ammunition is six bullets and we were forced to fire eight.”

fifty-five.

Cold Earth by Sarah Moss (2009)


Six archaeologists are on Greenland trying to solve the mystery of why the Vikings disappeared from the island. An outbreak of a pandemic disease is spreading panic at the time of their departure to Greenland. As the dig is starting to uncover bodies, Nina is having nightmares about dead Greenlanders in the camp. And then the rest of the archaeologists are sensing them too.

This book frightened me. Isolated camp, ghosts and a pandemic. I couldn’t put it away and even when I did for a few minutes, it was always in my mind. And even now when I have finished it and the daylight is back, I still have a nervous feeling. Or more like an Arctic chill. I’m really glad I was attracted to the shiny cover at the airport in Trondheim.

I really liked the letter as a writing style, mainly because it took a long time before I realised it was written as letters. And this one of the few books where I’m satisfied that you never get all the facts, you have to guess what happened. What really happened to the Greenlanders, anyway?

Dear Hollywood; please make a brilliant film out of this book.