Stranded – Bracken MacLeod, 2016.
One sailor must confront the unimaginable in this rugged, unsettling thriller.
Aboard the supply ship Arctic Promise, Nick Cabot is about as popular as Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner.
Following the lead of the ship’s master, Noah’s bitter-father in-law, most of the small crew treats Noah with scorn and outright physical hostility.
Then the ship becomes trapped in the ice, surrounded by an impenetrable fog. Navigation and communication instruments go dead. The crew becomes strangely sick and shadow-haunted.
Noah alone remains healthy. He and a small group set out toward what they hope is the oil platform they were scheduled to resupply. What they find is mind-blowing.
With Stranded, MacLeod delivers a slam-bang story from start to finish.
Noah is besieged with battles on all fronts. The increasingly unstable crew. The relentless and deadly subzero temperatures that affect every aspect of shipboard existence. His own insecurities and self-doubt. And of course, the mysterious supernatural threat of the shadow figures. As we learn Noah’s personal story through tantalizingly brief flashbacks, we come to empathize with him and root for his survival.
Stranded is flat-out gripping. I think I actually said “oh no” out loud a few times as I read, startling my poor husband. MacLeod portrays the harsh life aboard ship as well as the ever-present cold, cold, cold with compelling detail.
My only, miniscule quibble is with the ending. Although, really, the story ends in the best way it can. Leaving us with a piece of wisdom that we should all take to heart. Tiny cavil aside, as soon as I finished Stranded I immediately sent a copy to my dad, another die-hard thriller fan. Grab a comforter – or a parka – and a thermos of something hot and prepare to be lost in an icy sea for a few hours until you finish Stranded.