Stranded by Bracken MacLeod
Tor Books (October 4, 2016)
304 pages; $24.99 hardcover; $11.99 e-book
Reviewed by David Simms
Stranded is the kind of book which generates plenty of hype and high expectations—like many others every year. This one delivers on all that’s promised, and more, in a genre-hopping blockbuster which draws immediate comparisons to The Terror, The Thing, and even The Twilight Zone. Strong comparisons, yet in this case, apt words. A tour-de-force of claustrophobic thrills which places the book in the same field as Simmons, Koontz, and Golden.
The Arctic Promise contains a motley crew of characters which are drawn in vivid strokes by MacLeod. Noah, the main character, is on what he hopes to be his last mission before heading home to his daughter. The captain of the Promise blames him for the death of his own daughter, Noah’s wife, and holds no reservations about his thoughts of his son-in-law departing this world ASAP.
En route to a rig, the ship runs into a dense fog and is soon stuck in ice—ice which quickly surrounds them, trapping them, sentencing them to a frozen death if they can’t find a way out. One by one, the ship’s crew falls ill with a mysterious illness, further compounded by the loss of all communications with the outside world.
Noah and a team leave the ship and head to a strange structure barely visible in the distance. Reaching it just might kill them, but what they discover there might have them wondering whether or not that might be better. To deliver further details would only ruin many surprises and twists which hide within the pages. Each time the story seems to settle in, the author wrenches readers into a deeper, darker world which is nothing like what is expected, but results in a plot nearly impossible to steer away from.
Bracken MacLeod has written a novel which undoubtedly will garner him a wide base of readers. Part thriller, part horror, part sci-fi, and all great story, Stranded is destined to be on the year’s “best of” lists and will likely become a film (because it needs to be). The writing is strong and the characters rich in depth, especially once they reach their destination. This tale will stick with those who are brave enough to fall into the chilled claustrophobic world MacLeod has created, resulting in a sense of never having left that world behind—just like the best of Rod Serling’s tales.
Recommended as one of 2016’s most thrilling reads.