Title: The Devil and The Dark Water
Author: Stuart Turton
Narrator: Julian Rhind-Tutt
Release Date: 1/10/20
E.S.C.A.P.E Score: 42
(see below for breakdown)
I received a free audioARC copy from Bloomsbury UK Audio , via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
From Goodreads: A murder on the high seas. A detective duo. A demon who may or may not exist.
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. Travelling 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.
First I would like to preface that I had already started reading the Hardcover copy when I was accepted for the audioARC via Netgally in mid December (2 months after initial release). so I did skip the initial portions of the Audiobook and listened to the remaining as I read along with my purchase copy. To the quality of the audio version I would say the Narrator is excellent and really put voice to the characters and the story. I enjoyed the experience of listening along while reading as it meant I could continue to read even when my eyes began to tire.
The story itself I have mixed feelings about I both loved it and was so thoroughly disappointed in the ending that it made me somewhat disappointed in the book itself. Like the previous novel from Stuart Turton (The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle) the world building was beyond atmospheric and was almost engulfing. It was a really interesting choice of setting, a Dutch merchant ship in the middle of a perilous journey, which Turton made eerie and almost sinister at times that really played into the hints towards the supernatural even more present.
I enjoyed the characters also. They both fulfilled there rolls within a classic great detective story with Pipps being the almost Holmes like hero, Arnt his dedicated and diligent companion and Sara the intelligent woman that can’t rise above the constraints of her sex, as well as twisting and shattering these tropes. They combined with the ensemble cast make for such engaging characters, painting the outline of this world in there own way and adding even more to the atmosphere. This leads to a plot filled with twists and turns, mystery and second guessing. It is filled with Red Herrings that will have you pondering what the actual explanation could be.
This brings me to my point of contention. That after all this phenominal world building, story telling, building us up to the big reveal, there is a harsh switch and then an ending that feels very rushed and unexplained. I was lucky to have the audio at this stage as it also has an interview with Turton that explains he re-wrote the ending many times, not sure on quite how to end it and it shows! It just seems to just fall flat after all the beauty and construction of the story before it.
I still adore Turton’s writing, his ability to world build, to create mystery and drama are second to none. The ending just didn’t live up to the promise of the rest of the story. He is able to so clearly portray the tone and setting of the time period he has chosen to set his works in and it makes them beautiful to read. I will continue to read his works with eagerness.