The Elder Ice by David Hambling

Series: Harry Stubbs Adventures #1 Rating: 4/5
Date of Publishing: January 15th 2018 Genre: historical fiction, horror, sci-fi, thriller, mystery
Format: Kindle edition Available: Amazon, Barnes & Noble
Number of pages: 88 Author’s website: 

“People compare many such shops to Aladdin’s cave, but this one must have been an Aladdin of the poorest sort.”

Blurb

 Lovecraftian weird fiction set in 1920s London.

In this atmospheric novella, ex-boxer Harry Stubbs is on the trail of a mysterious legacy. A polar explorer has died, leaving huge debts and hints of a priceless find. His informants seem to be talking in riddles, and Harry soon finds he isn't the only one on the trail -- and what he's looking for is as lethal as it is valuable. The key to the enigma lies in an ancient Arabian book and it leads to something stranger and more horrifying than Harry could ever imagine. 

Harry may not be an educated man, but he has an open mind, the bulldog persistence and a piledriver punch -- all vital for survival when you're boxing the darkest of shadows. 

The story of mystery and horror draws on HP Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos and is inspired by Ernest Shackleton's incredible real-life adventures.

Personal notes

I received a free copy in exchange of a honest review. Thanks David Hambling for providing me this one!

Side Note: I love the kindle version’s cover much more than the paperback one! It’s georgeous!

To be honest, I struggled to write this review. Not because the book was bad, or anything, I was just not in the right frame of mind to read at all. Lack of sleep tends to do that to a person… It’s not the book’s fault though and I didn’t regret picking this one as my traveling companion. Plus it’s a short book, so hard to write a review without spoilers

Review

Harry Stubbs, ex-boxer works his way up from debt collector to clerk in a law firm with his persistence and will as steel. He doesn’t have high ambitions, or extraordinary intelligence, but he is a hard worker and sets reachable goals for himself and has a curiosity which gets him through the not-so-exciting part of his job: writing reports. His current case leads him to investigate the late adventurer, Ernest Shackleton’s legacy. Apart from studying the availabe documents of his expeditions, Harry sets out to interview people who was in contact with Shackleton and might know something about the mysterious treasure worth a fortune. But as Harry digs deeper, the more dangerous the quest becomes, and not only the treasure is at stake but his own life as well. And when he finally gets the answers, he never sees them coming.

This book is set in London, 1925. Altough we don’t get to see much about the city, the atmosphere created by David Hambling is realistic and makes one feel back in a time when gentlemen wore bowler hats and people corresponded via handwritten letters instead of telephones and so you had to wait for days to arrange a meeting with someone. In a time when you didn’t just pop up by the other’s door or called from the corner letting them know you are coming. When people still walked and weren’t running around like crazed ants in their hive. Harry Stubbs is not your typical MC. He is not a knowing-it-all, I-am-above-everyone-else, I-will-solve-all-the-problems-just-watch-me kind of character and that’s good. He is an avarage guy, who follows orders but has some brain himself to know when to act and how to talk to people to get the information he wants. He is not witty, but observant, efficient, doesn’t waste time on small talk, and above else, loyal.

In this book historical fiction mixes with horror, mystery, some sci-fi and suprisingly they mix pretty well despite The Elder Ice being a really short novel. I felt like it needed at least 50 more pages for the story to be pulled out even better. In the first half, Harry interviews key figures in the mystery, in the second half or so, the events take place more rapidly, and the reader just tries to keep up with all the information and revelation coming. And they are quite surprising too. Some hints are hidden cleverly and you never recognize them until it’s too late. The other characters besides Harry are well built, they are distinct and easily recognisable like the austere Mrs Crawford the secretary at the firm, the overly friendly Arthur who looks after Harry when in need or the cunning and little mad Collector. It’s no easy task to put together a compelling story, with 3 dimensional characters having their own backgrounds and also recount some real historical events into 88 (or 128 in paperback) pages. It takes some talent and great editing.

The reason why this book doesn’t gets 5 stars is that sometimes I struggled with the writing style. Might be because of my afore mentioned lack of sleep, or that I don’t seem to get used to British english for some reasons. There is something with their use of words, or vocabulary which doesn’t bode well with me. The other reason is that we get far too less explanation about the myths and research regarding the treasure and its history. Sure, it’s more than enough to explain to the reader the importance and significance of the mentioned item, but the more curious ones like me might want more.

The Elder Ice is a book which is perfect for a nice afternoon read when you want to get away from reality and be thrown into the icy english winter to search for mysteries and recieve a few punches along the way. You will also discover a new twist to a well known story which will leave you wonder again, about humanity and their ability of telling stories and making them into something else with sheer will. If you are ready to face a new kind of truth about our world and what lays under the ice of Antarctica, then go ahead, and read this book! You might be looking at some things differently after that, but hey, I warned you! 😉

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