The Devil and the Dark Water, Stuart Turton | Book Review

Updated: Nov 14

Book: The Devil and the Dark Water

Author: Stuart Turton

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction

Pages: 570 (Kindle edition)

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

Publication Date: 1st October 2020

My Rating: 3/5 Stars


TW: Abusive / controlling relationship, rape, livestock slaughter (not graphic).

Stuart Turton's 'The Devil and the Dark Water' was on my October TBR and I just about finished it in time!

The Devil and the Dark Water is full of mystery, suspense and surprise. Set in 1634, the great detective Samuel Pipps is being transported on the Saardam from Batavia to Amsterdam to be executed for a crime that he is unaware of committing. Travelling with him, is his faithful bodyguard Arent Hayes. When strange symbols begin to appear on the ship and a ghostly lantern appears at night bringing death with it, it's down to Arent alone to solve this mystery!

Despite being set in 1634, Turton states that this book is not to be seen as historical fiction, due to the historical inaccuracies of the clothing and language used in some parts of the book. It is however, very much a mystery and a thriller that keeps you thinking and guessing throughout!

I'm not typically one for mystery books, yet because this book was published early October and it's the spooky season - I thought I'd embrace it! I really enjoyed trying to guess who (or what!) is responsible for the strange markings around the ship, and trying to work out how it's possible for the once dead leper to keep making a reappearance!

I enjoyed Turton's style of writing and the general flow of the story. Largely set upon the Saardam, the setting of the ship helped to provide a wonderful piece of escapism where you could picture yourself somewhere else for a while (until it started getting creepy, and then maybe you don't want to picture yourself there!). However, I did find that it was unnecessarily drawn out in places and while some chapters finished with a cliff-hanger, others were very slow and instead provided long gaps between any action.

There were many characters within this book - maybe a little too many! Most of them were introduced at once, which became confusing to discover who's who, and what their individual roles upon the Saardam were. Although, this does become clearer over the course of the book. There's some strong individualistic characters in there though, Arent's detective work, Sara's defiance towards her husband (go on lass!) and her daughter Lia's hidden intelligence and skill all add an extra layer to the story. This book certainly keeps you on your toes!

Overall, I'd rate this book a three out of a possible five stars. I did enjoy it, and the ending surprised me (I half guessed, alright!?) but at the same time, I felt that it was a little too long with too many characters and storylines that aren't necessary to the plot.

Trigger Warnings: Abusive / controlling relationship, rape, livestock slaughter (not graphic).

Have you read Stuart Turton's 'The Devil and the Dark Water'? What did you think of it?

Take care and stay safe,

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