No spoilers, only that I really bloody loved this book.
There is something innately terrifying about ice and snow. The unpredictable nature of sub-zero elements is not something I have a desire to experience. However, these circumstances can make for some cracking horror novels, such as Ally Wilkes’ brilliant debut, All The White Spaces.
Jonathan has lost his two older brothers to war. Bereft and bewildered, he embarks on a risky Antarctic expedition, in an attempt to maintain a connection to his brothers, who were obsessed with the frozen wilderness. However, the crew are forced to explore more of the area than intended. As things start to fall apart, and constant darkness looms, strange and inexplicable voices begin to draw men deeper into danger.
All the White Spaces is not a novel of unrelenting horror; this is an incredibly well-told story of loss, personal discovery, and the dangers of messing with unknown forces, both natural and supernatural. Wilkes masterfully builds a sense of dread and desperation. This a book of quiet terror, gradually dripping in from every crevice (or crevasse).
The character development in this novel is extraordinary. The central character of Jonathan is so well-defined, and so intriguing. I was incredibly connected to his journey, in every sense of the word. Wilkes has created a wonderful, fading hero in Randall, the leader of the expedition, and an idol to Jonathan. My heart broke every time one of the crew was inevitably lost.
This is not just a great genre novel; this is a great literary novel. Once I started reading, this book only left my hands when it was taken from my frozen grip by my boss or family. Wilkes has created a story so vivid, it’s almost inescapable.
For fans of The Terror, and to a lesser extent The Thing, this is your new favorite book.
All The White Spaces is released in the U.S. on March 22nd, 2022. If you can’t wait until then it’s out in the U.K. in January.