Review | The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

Highly atmospheric and fiendishly clever, but missing something for me. 4/5 stars.

The Devil and the Dark Water by Stu Turton book cover

Thank you to Bloomsbury Publishing for providing me with an e-copy of this book via NetGalley.

The blurb:

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 take:

I was incredibly impressed by Turton’s debut novel, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, if for nothing more than the sheer amount of work that must have gone into keeping all the plot lines straight. So I was really looking forward to his new book and I’m sorry to say I didn’t find it quite as successful as Seven Deaths. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it at all, I just didn’t find it as pleasing. I’ve given both books 4 stars, but I think Seven Deaths was more 4.5 rounded down and The Devil and the Deep Water is more 3.5 rounded up (I’m aware this is a bit odd and possibly unfair, but I can’t review with hindsight!).

There is loads of great stuff to like in The Devil and the Deep Water. What I enjoyed most was the brilliant atmosphere. The ship is a great claustrophobic setting for mysterious shennanigans and felt really creepy and threatening at times.

I also liked the female characters who didn’t sit on their backsides and wait for anyone to save them. I’m not quite sure how historically accurate women having this much agency in the early 17th century – particularly onboard a ship – would have been, but I was happy to suspend my disbelief.

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ARC Review | The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

A mind-bending wonder somewhere between an episode of Black Mirror and a classic Poirot mystery. 4/5.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35967101-the-seven-deaths-of-evelyn-hardcastle

Thank you to Bloomsbury and NetGalley for providing me with an e-copy of this book. The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle will be published on 8th February.

The blurb: How do you stop a murder that’s already happened?

At a gala party thrown by her parents, Evelyn Hardcastle will be killed–again. She’s been murdered hundreds of times, and each day, Aiden Bishop is too late to save her. Doomed to repeat the same day over and over, Aiden’s only escape is to solve Evelyn Hardcastle’s murder and conquer the shadows of an enemy he struggles to even comprehend–but nothing and no one are quite what they seem…

My take:

This book has a great premise and puts an original spin on the classic country house murder mystery. The layers in the story make it incredibly complex and I take my hat off to the author. I can’t imagine the diagrams necessary to keep track of where all the characters are supposed to be at various times as the narrator body-hops between different “hosts”, bumping into friends and enemies along the way. In addition to the murder mystery we have the mystery of Aiden himself: who is he and why is he being forced to relive the same day, searching desperately for Evelyn Hardcastle’s killer?

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