First of all, a big THANK YOU to NetGalley, to Mr. Turton, and to Sourcebooks Landmark for the opportunity to read an ARC of this title. An honest review was requested but not required.
I read Mr. Turton's debut, the 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, and found it interesting but possibly a little draggy towards the end. In contrast, this started out a little dry but quickly - QUICKLY - sped up. It had all my favorite elements: a locked room mystery (and how. A ship is the ultimate claustrophobic locked room), a Sherlock-esque detective and sidekick, faint hints of romance, and a solid historical setting. Massive bonus points, in fact, for the setting; I have never ever read a book (mystery or otherwise) set on an Indiamen sailing out of "Batavia" (currently Jakarta, Indonesia) towards Amsterdam. The research into ships of the time period seemed to me to be both extensive and well-utilized; I never felt like the author was just showing off all he'd learned but instead felt totally immersed in the scene. Frankly, the entire setting was absolutely terrific, practically a character in its own right, and would have kept me reading even if the mystery was lackluster. You could practically smell the stink of the unwashed (and un-deodorized) passengers, feel the sea breeze, hear the creak of the deck boards under your feet. Am I really fanGirling about the setting? You bet your sweet bippy I am. It was that good.
I am here to inform you that the mystery was NOT lackluster. There was definitely, a la Evelyn Hardcastle, a full roster of characters and side characters. However, the POVs were more obviously delineated and I had no problem following along. The demonic aspect of the mystery was pleasantly spooky especially as October starts up and my annual hunt for scary reading material commences. There were twists enough to please even the most demanding mystery reader - which I am decidedly not -, solidly fleshed out characters, and well-paced action.
If I were to make a critique, I would say (A) the use of the word "Okay" jumped out at me. I'm not sure if "okay" was common to the parlance of 1634. With so much care taken to ensure the setting and characterization was correct otherwise, it was extra anachronistic.
And (B) the ending, after so much buildup, seemed somewhat abrupt, and possibly a tad anticlimactic. I think I would have preferred a little more to it. I really don't want to ask any specific questions because I don't want to spoil ANYTHING about the mystery, but there were several characters about whom I would have liked more finality.
At any rate, this book was a terrific, atmospheric, tense, suspenseful mystery in the very best locked room style and with probably the best setting I've read about this year, and I highly recommend it. Mr. Turton has in my opinion surpassed his inaugural work. *golf clap*
The Devil and The Dark Water by Stuart Turton
3.5 stars. Where to start with this book?
First of, it felt like I was in the middle of a series in the first chapter of this book, where we first meet Sammy and Arent. It felt like I should know of them already.
Then focus shifts from the two to Sara, the wife of the Governor General and apparently, also a lead character. I read the blurb again here to check. So I mentally shrugged and continued.
Then, another chapter or two in... oh so it’s Sara and Arent who are the lead characters really. And am unlikely pair of detectives.
It’s interesting once you get past who the leads are. A ship haunted. 300 people on board. Old Tom. People dying.
And in the end...Huh. I didn’t expect that. And it was ok. I think I could actually read this book again.
Thank you Sourcebooks Landmark and NetGalley for the arc of this book.
I'm so mad! Stuart Turton, this book is amazing, but I hate the end! I feel so torn. I love the mystery and I loved reading through this book trying to work out what was going on. I definitely was fooled and didn't see the end coming. And all of that was okay, it was great, actually, because the mystery of it was so strong and complex and cool! The big reveal was everything I wanted it to be...it's just the after. I felt let down. It felt very anticlimactic. I can't be more specific without spoiling the end, but I really wish the end were different, because then this book would be 5 stars.
The characters are so well written. I can honestly say I was happy to see Sara as the stand-out, amazing, strong, clever woman that she is because I'm also a Sara! I love her and Arent so much. I rooted for them the whole way through the book. There was such a strong cast beside them, all the crew and the nobles. I believe I suspected everyone at some point, it was such fun to see them prove me wrong.
This story is, like Turton's other novel, constructed brilliantly. I loved all of the ship knowledge that has been built into the story and everything seemed so well researched. I was really immersed in it. The pacing was good, with lots of small ups and downs until the end where the climb up was so full of tension that I was turning pages like crazy! The big reveal is definitely worth the climb.
Overall, great story. I'd definitely recommend it, despite my dislike of the end. I'd be curious to see what others feel about it, and whether this book will be a polarizing one because of it.
Thank you so much, Sourcebooks Landmark do my e-arc
This is a spine-chilling, hair-raising, and definitely a mind-blowing read. My first read under this author and will not be the last. The characters are all well-developed; the plot is straightforward and easy to follow. The author’s writing style is phenomenal.
"The Devil and the Dark Water" is the newest release by the author of "The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle". This one is an historical fiction set in 1634 on a sea voyage from Batavia (Jakarta, Indonesia) to Amsterdam. The story is equal parts adventure and mystery with some romance. The voyage begins with a strange warning from a leper who then seems to spontaneously combust. On the ship is the world famous detective Samuel Pipps, who is under arrest for an unspecified crime, and his bodyguard Arent Hayes. When more strange things start happening and signs of the devil appear, Arent works with Sara (the wife of the Governor General) in order to solve the mysteries of the ship before more people die. This is a clever book is a wonderful recommendation for readers, as long as they are okay with books with lots of characters. I loved it.
I liked this book a lot. I love historical mysteries and this one fits the bill perfectly. Stuart Turton does a great job of keeping you guessing.
It's 1634 and Samuel Pipps, the world's greatest detective, is being transported to Amsterdam to be executed for a crime he may, or may not, have committed. Traveling with him is his loyal bodyguard, Arent Hayes, who is determined to prove his friend innocent.
But no sooner are they out to sea than devilry begins to blight the voyage. A twice-dead leper stalks the decks. Strange symbols appear on the sails. Livestock is slaughtered.
And then three passengers are marked for death, including Samuel.
Could a demon be responsible for their misfortunes?
With Pipps imprisoned, only Arent can solve a mystery that connects every passenger onboard. A mystery that stretches back into their past and now threatens to sink the ship, killing everybody on board.
I received a copy for this book via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
The Devil and the Dark Water is best described as Agatha Christie Meets Sherlock Holmes. It tells the story of a group of Dutch citizens returning to Amsterdam from the East Indian Company colony of Batavia. The voyage starts off an a bad note, when a leper announces to the embarking passengers that the voyage is cursed. The Governor General, who is returning to Amsterdam to take a vacancy on the company's ruling board enlists his nephew Arent Hayes to investigate the threats and is necessary neutralize the threat. Arent has spent the last several years as Watson to Samual Pipps. Pipps is brilliant, an alchemist and renown for his crime solving abilities. However, word has come from Amsterdam that Pipps may be an English spy and imprisoned onboard. Arent instead enlists the help of Sara, the Governor General's wife, and Creesjie, the governor's mistress, to uncover the plot and stop the threat.
I really enjoyed this book. It reminded me a lot of locked room Agatha Christy novels, like And Then There Were None and Murder on the Orient Express. In addition, while there are definite Sherlock vibes to the Pipps/Hayes relationship, Pipp's imprisonment forces the investigation on Hayes and I think that is a strength of the story. The central mystery and investigation are interesting, engaging and keeps you guessing until the very end. Even the reveal makes me want to sit down and reread the book to figure out the clue that were laid out for the eagle eyed reader. The female characters are definitely interesting in that they are unusual time period. All of them have agency and use their intelligence to try and get their desired outcome. I wouldn't necessarily call them strong female characters, but they are multidimensional and have their own thoughts/motivations. There is a significant use of supernatural elements, which fits with the historical setting and overall feel of the story. The book definitely lives up to it's title in that regard.
I'm not actually sure if I can think of anything I didn't like about this novel. It was obviously well researched and well paced. My only minor gripe might be that the Lia character is a bit one dimensional.
I highly recommend this novel, especially if you enjoyed Turton's 1st novel and I look forward to his next book.
The formidable, award-winning Stuart Turton returns with his next mind-bending, genre-defying historical crime novel shot through with an abundance of mystery, intelligence, and an exquisitely crafted plot, all set against the richly-imagined seventeenth-century backdrop of the merchant ship Saardam. It's 1634 and the Saardam is about to depart Batavia in the Dutch East Indies, heading for Amsterdam, when a leper places a curse on both the boat itself and those aboard her and then swiftly combusts after bursting into flames. It doesn't take too long for more inexplicably odd occurrences to happen on the voyage and things go from bad to worse when evil eye symbols are uncovered all across the ship; the sign represents a demon known as Old Tom who possesses the souls of others and tempts them into doing his dirty work, including murder, by offering them "their hearts desire for a favour". Luckily for the passengers, the worlds foremost Detective, Samuel Pipps, is in custody on the ship for a crime he may, or may not have committed and is travelling alongside bodyguard Arent Hayes. Can they solve the mystery of a malevolent force that threatens to kill everyone on board before it's too late?
This is an exquisitely written, impeccably plotted story, crammed full of intrigue, danger, supernatural strangeness and an intensely creepy and claustrophobic atmosphere on board the ship as it leaves port for Holland; the feeling of disquiet I felt when I knew of all of the bizarre, and later murderous, onboard incidents could be not be escaped due to being at sail on the high seas really got under my skin and into my psyche — this is a riveting, contemporary take on Christie's locked room mystery. It is compulsive reading from the first couple of pages, and I thoroughly enjoyed that Turton toyed with the idea of evil being supernatural as well as human with it being explored in an intriguing manner. The cast of characters is engaging and unique with the relationship between, and depiction of, Pipps and Hayes having similarities to old favourites, Holmes and Watson, where loyalty and sleuthing matter above all else. A refreshingly original and multifaceted story written with beauty and fluidity, a gripping narrative populated by memorable characters with multiple plot twists just springing up one after the other, this is a must-read for all crime connoisseurs. Unmissable and unforgettable. Many thanks to Sourcebooks Landmark for an ARC.
I adored The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle so I was thrilled to have the chance to check out Stuart Turton’s new novel!
That synopsis alone is so intriguing, containing so many elements I’m interested in: closed room style mystery, unexplained goings on and an interesting setting.
For the majority of the novel we’re following two main characters. Firstly Arent Hayes, the sort of John Watson to Samuel Pipps Sherlock. He’s the trusty companion who chronicles the famous detective’s cases, but is forced to go alone while Pipps is locked up on board for reasons unknown. And secondly we have Sara Wessel, wife to the governor forced to stay quiet and out of the way for most of her marriage but gets a sort of freedom on the ship (as long as her husband doesn’t find out). They were such interesting and layered characters and they were an absolute joy to read about.
On to the story itself. There’s plenty of strange goings on on the ship, all kicking off before the passengers have even boarded. At the port a leper shouts about the ship being cursed before bursting into flames. It’s then discovered that his tounge had been cut out. So how could he have spoken? This had one of my favourite elements in mysteries where it’s unclear whether the goings on are supernatural or if there’s some other explanation.
In fact, this is a fantastic autumnal read! It’s wonderfuly atmospheric with it’s 1600s isolated setting
This has very much solidified Stuart Turton as a must buy author for me. While both of his novels are very different (this has a liner timeline for example), they have a similar atmosphere and keep you guessing what’s going on.
Available to pre-order now.
Thank you to the lovely publicist at @bookmarked for the patience and for sending me a physical ARC (that's somewhere lost on Earth because it never got to me 😭) as well as an eARC for me to read and review!
Trigger advisory for: violence, domestic abuse, animal slaughter, blood and gore; mentions of rape
I thoroughly enjoyed and loved this book, from the writing style to the pace of the story which had me gripped from the beginning. It felt so adventurous with its well-sustained eerie atmosphere of mystery, thrill, horror, tied up with superstition that kept playing with my mind about whether a demon exists with them or not doing the evil acts on the ship as well as truths vs untruths, good vs evil.
While the story is written in historical setting in the 1600's, what sets this book apart is its brilliant play on modern day beliefs and political ideologies. One of the characters, Sara, is the perfect example for that as she refuses to let society, men, and tradition dictate her fate and what she should be as a woman. Aligned with that, the characters and their developed relationships to each other became the driving force of this story as they themselves were driven in fear and greed, eventually carving out empathy, courage, and kindness.
The atmosphere and imagery of the book was very well done. I felt as though I was also in the ship -- horrifying, dizzying, and claustrophobic at times. It was a very immersive read that when it ended, it felt like I was also down the ship by the end of the book ready to head to the comfort of my own home to rest after the exhausting voyage.
The experience is unforgettably well worth the numerous pages.
Easily is one of my best reads of 2020.
Even though this is not the best book for those favoring historical accuracy in historical fiction, I still highly recommend it if you nonetheless love atmospheric, mystery, thriller adult novels!
I requested to review this book solely on the strength of his first novel. I don't tend to read about 17th century Dutch aristocracy and high seas hijinks, so I knew I'd be reading out of my comfort zone. And I'm so incredibly glad I did. Incredibly fast paced, filled with intriguing characters, and evocative imagery, this novel swashbuckled its way into my top 10 list of 2020.
**I received an advanced reader's copy of this novel in exchange for an unbiased review**
Rip roaring rollicking ride on a 'locked ship' mystery that kept me guessing until the end. This book has everything! Demons, mystery, murders and romance on the high seas.
I was immediately taken in by the writing, plot and storytelling from this brilliant author. I was kept guessing as to whodunit and then I was sideswiped by the ending and who or what (really) dunnit.
I have read the authors other book and was not disappointed with this book. I look forward to reading more works by this author. Do yourself a favor and run to find and read this book!
After reading The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle last year, I knew that I wanted to read Turton's upcoming novel, The Devil and the Dark Water. The Devil and the Dark Water is quite a departure from his debut novel, and I am still a bit on the fence how I feel about it.Evelyn Hardcastle was definitely a riddle of a book, and Devil is no different. Devil definitely has a Sherlock and Watson vibe to it, except Sherlock is imprisoned for most of the book, leaving Watson on his own to solve the mystery, or in this case, the murders. This novel takes place in 1634, aboard a ship. Samuel Pipp's, notably the world's best detective, is being transported to Amsterdam to be executed for a crime he may or may not have committed. Traveling with him is his loyal companion, Arent (which was kind of a confusing name because I kept thinking it was the start of a question every time). Three of the passengers have been marked for death- there is a leper that gives a warning at the beginning of the journey, and from there, mysterious things start and keep happening throughout the journey. There are several passengers and crew who come to the forefront of this story, including Sara and her daughter Lia, Creesjie, and many others. I do love a story with a strong female protagonist, and despite the things Sara had endured, mainly at the expense of her husband, she was an extremely strong and determined woman. I didn't like the way her husband treated her, and I kept having to remind myself that this book was taking place in the 1600's. The beginning and the ending of the story were my favorite parts. I felt like the story started off very strong, but parts of the middle certainly seemed to drag for me. I felt like there were a lot of monotonous/unimportant details. Once I finally made it to the halfway mark and the characters got closer to solving the crimes, I felt like the story finally started to pick back up. By the time the ending did come around, I was ready for it. I have to admit that I didn't predict the twist/revelation, which I appreciated. I did think this was a tad bit long, but for the most part, I enjoyed the story. It is definitely a slow burn, and I think it is perfect for Halloween, and the perfect October read. Thank you to the publisher for sending me a physical review copy, and for the e-copy via Netgalley. I will post this full review on Instagram @readingmama_reviews in the upcoming week. 3.5 rounded up to 4/5 stars.
Certainly a wonderful and different setting to a story. Genius! Even though it's mostly set on a ship in 1600s, I
really enjoyed the setting and the variety of characters. Going by Turton's first novel, this one is not complicated.
Just sit back and enjoy the voyage!
How is the leper still haunting the ship when we already witnessed his burning and kindly Death? How is Old Tom leaving his trademark of the eye with a tail? Will everyone survive the voyage? Has anybody seen Emily dean Havaillard since the ship left the port? What is the secret folly? So many questions. One way to find out ...
Happy with the ending and how everything is tied up and made sense of. Delightful
Too much going on in this book, with an almost “in your face” commentary about the treatment of women and lower class. With that being said, I thought Samuel Pipps and his bodyguard were well-developed characters and their attempts to prove Pipps innocent provide a lot of humor and plots scenes. And there’s no end of action on the ship transporting them to Amsterdam from India in the 1600’s.
What can I say! Another classic from Stu Turton. So happy I managed to get this as an advanced copy. The last book Turton wrote 7 1/2 deaths was exceptional, this one is amazing in a totally different way! Stu Turton must research so much for these books, as the attention to detail is immense. The story is probably one that is always told in history of demons haunting ships in the water. This book however shines a light on it and what really happens! If you get chance to buy this book, then do! A fantastic read.
Another excellent mystery from Stuart Turnton. I hope this author continues writing for a long time.
Were to even start... I read and liked Stuart Turton's previous novel "The 7 1/2 Death of Evelyn Hardcastle" and was excited to read his latest. Like his first book, this one is historical fiction and has deep twists and turns. It leaves a haunting, almost paranormal feeling as you navigate the chapters. So atmospheric and I really sunk deep into the characters and settings at the start of the book.
Then, it all seemed to change. Characters I grew to like and thought I understood made decisions that seemed out of character. It's hard to go into detail without giving too much of this plot away. It just left me confused and weirdly angry that so much reading was character growth only for everything I read to be thrown out the window.
I have massive respect for Turton because he must have done massive amounts of research to understand and write about the inner workings of a ship in the 1600s. He did a wonderful job setting scenes and explaining character roles. What he failed to do in this book, that I feel he mastered in the previous novel, was making sure the characters' dialog felt authentic to the historical setting. This was just downright odd and uncomfortable to read at times.
All in all, this was a 2.5 star read for me. I was surprised to really like the setting ( a ship in the 1600s) and there were characters I really enjoyed reading about. For as long as this book is, I am surprised I finished it so fast, though I'm not sure if I read out of loving it or just wishing it would end.
Thanks to Netgalley and Sourcebooks Landmark for allowing me the eARC to read and give my honest review.
If you are a fan of the author or love historical fiction add this to your TBR list and pre-order now! This is set to be released here in the U.S. on October 6, 2020.
Talk about an epic journey! What a wonderful trip it is aboard a ship in the early/mid 1600s that is the center of a complicated and highly entertaining mystery involving demons, witchcraft, superstition, nobility, greed, betrayal and, of course, love. With a Sherlock/Watson-esque combo aboard, it is great fun to follow the clues with them...but good luck figuring out the real reasoning and plot!! Fabulous characters and an intricate plot that kept me hooked to the novel.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks for the ARC to read and review.
I was hoping for a stellar sophomore novel from Stuart Turton, a book that was as weird and wonderful as his first, The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. Imagine my delight then, upon finishing The Devil and the Dark Water, a truly excellent showing, proving Turton is no one hit wonder.
I thought I might struggle with the time period (the 1600s), since I'm usually not that into historical fiction. But really, other than some language and customs, The Devil and the Dark Water comes across as modern. Certainly, all the characters, and there are many, have needs and desires that are easily recognized in ourselves today. Another gift Turton possesses is the ability to fully flesh out each character, making them so distinct in your mind that there's no chance of you becoming confused about which is which.
As the threads of the mystery started becoming untangled, I could only shake my head in disbelief. I had been so thoroughly mistaken on the who and the why, and the gasps kept coming right up until the very last page.
The strange wonderland that must exist in Stuart Turton's mind, reveals itself in The Devil and the Dark Water, as very smart, incredibly intricate, and diabolically twisted. I can't wait for the next trip.
I received a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
Thank you to Netgalley and Sourcebooks Landmark.