Monday, December 28, 2020

The Arctic Fury by Greer Macallister

Virginia Reeve is a woman with an undeniable talent for guiding people through tough terrain. Which is why the widow of Sir John Franklin hires her to lead an expedition to find the remains of her husband and his crew in the Arctic. 

The team is to be made up of women only, most of Jane Franklin's choosing. Her hope is that they will succeed where no team of men has before and bring back, if anything, proof of her husband's successes. 

But over a year later, Virginia is on trial, accused of having murdered one of her team. And Lady Franklin lays no claim at all to the expedition. 

So, I'm no stranger to the subject of this book. In fact, when I heard it was about the Franklin expedition, it immediately went to the top of my must-have-as-soon-as-humanly-possible list! It's a topic that's piqued my interest for a very long time. 

If you don't know, in 1845 Captain Sir John Franklin set sail with a crew and two ships, Erebus and Terror, to explore the Northwest Passage. The expedition did not end well. 

Much has been made about the quality of the canned food that was to get them through their trip. This particular aspect of the voyage is one that I studied in medical anthropology in the way back when times when I was in college. The solder used to seal the cans was lead and some have surmised that the crew were suffering from lead poisoning, which exacerbated conditions after they were trapped in the ice. 

Though the wreckage has been found, the final days of the expedition are excellent fodder for fiction. Dan Simmons's The Terror is just one and now there's The Arctic Fury

Let me first say that there was never an all female expedition to find Franklin. That aside, I absolutely love that Greer Macallister imagined what it would have been like had there been one! 

Limitations on women are a big part of this book, for obvious reasons. And Virginia, though she's a trusted guide, is undoubtedly held to a higher standard than a male counterpart simply by sake of the fact that she's on trial when the book begins. Of course the prosecution claims she tricked people into following her, blah, blah, blah. 

Macallister does a great job illustrating just how harrowing an adventure this would be. And I loved the characters she filled the team with. Some certainly could have done with more fleshing out, but with a large cast of characters, I thought she did a wonderful job of giving voice to their stories. I have a few favorites, as I'm sure most readers do :)

Virginia herself is fabulous! I quickly realized what her back story was, simply by recognizing some of the clues Macallister provided, but I won't ruin it for the rest of you. 

The Arctic Fury is not a light read by any means, but if you're a fan of historical fiction and snowy adventures, this is the read for you!

Order a copy from your favorite indie via Bookshop!

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