Saturday, January 16, 2021

The Arctic Fury by Greer Macallister


The Arctic Fury is a novel I've been waiting quite some time to read, and I've been chipping away at it all week. Today I spent the day on the couch reading all day to finish it. It was a day well spent! 

Sometimes when I'm reading a book, I look at reviews about midway through just to see how people have reacted to the story. I'd say for this, there were a lot of folks who didn't like the lack of relationship building between the women. Now that I've read the book, I can say that wasn't the case for me, and I was not disappointed at all in this historical adventure. 

Viriginia Reeve has been summoned to Boston by Lady Jane Franklin with a very unusual proposition: to lead a group of women into the Arctic to find her husband, Lord John Franklin of the famed Franklin Expedition. Lord Franklin and his crew, along with their two ships, never returned, and no one knows what happened to them. Lady Jane believes a group of women can actually succeed where men have failed: either find the crew, of find out what happened to them. Her stipulation: Virginia has to take along a crew of 12 women (3 of her choosing), and if she tells anyone Lady Franklin funded the trip, Lady Franklin will deny, deny, deny. 

Virginia's background is pretty interesting: she has been guiding people to California  for a number of years as an experienced trail guide. After her friend's untimely death, she decides it's time for something new. Virginia is at times confident in her ability to traverse to the Arctic, and at others, terribly uncertain and aware of the responsibility on her shoulders. As we meet the other women who join the expedition: Doro, Elizabeth, Siobhan, Margaret, Irene, Ebba, Althea, Caprice, Stella, Dove, and Christabel--the story slowly unfolds, moving back and forth between the expedition in 1853 and the Virginia's trial for murder in Boston, 1854. Who is she accused of murdering, and how will she prove her innocence? 

This is definitely a story that unfolds bit by bit, chapter by chapter. All of the women have useful skills for the expedition; the dislike between Virginia and Caprice signals trouble to follow; and let's not forget we've got a group of women going where no white women have ever been. It's 1853; women trekking their way up North in dangerous conditions not only puts them in treacherous weather, but sharing space with men who look at them with suspicion, lust, and disdain. 

The story of the expedition is interspersed with chapters of the trial. We know what Virginia's thinking, but what of the other women? You get glimpses, for sure. Each have their own secrets and reasons why they joined the expedition. Each has a reason to tell the truth--or near enough the truth. Virginia's life is on the line--will she hang or will the truth come out? 

I enjoyed this novel very much. Adventure, tense standoffs, friendships formed. I felt the relationships between the women started off standoff-ish, but they quickly realized they only had themselves to depend on to survive. There is a bit of a surprise with Virginia that is slowly revealed, that explains a lot of her behavior. She is definitely a strong woman, surviving tragedies that would finish off so many others. There's also a bit at the back of the book about the Franklin Expedition. There are so many books available if this novel peaks your interest in Lord Franklin's doomed expeditions. Fascinating stuff. 

Rating: 5/6 for a thrilling adventure featuring a group of women who set off to do what no other women have done: travel to the Arctic in search of a lost expedition. The story unfolds, keeps you turning the pages, and holding your breath. It would make a pretty darn good mini-series! 

Available in paperback, ebook, and audio. 

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