Tor Books, 2017, PB, 368 pp, $9.99
Because it is October I decided to pick a spooky novel, and Stranded delivers. Nothing in this book is as it seems. We begin with a terrifying storm while the Arctic Promise is headed for the northeast Chukchi Sea carrying supplies for the OrbitOil drilling platform "Niflheim". It is quickly revealed that our protagonist Noah Cabot is disliked by most of the crew, including the captain, who happens to be his father in law. The reason for this dislike is slowly uncovered during the novel. It is one of the many tensions that Macleod builds throughout this interesting book.
Intrinsic in his plot is philosophy, and it is unsurprising that Macleod has been a professor of that subject. The idea of twin worlds, and what would you do if you were faced with your own twin from a different world is a conundrum. Would you want to quit your life and jump into the alternate world? What if a loved one died in your world, but lived in another? These are some questions this novel addresses.
All of this is involved in a truly nerve wracking journey. After the initial storm, the Arctic Promise is stuck in thickening fog. All navigation and communication equipment is off line although mysteriously none of it has been broken. To me it was reminiscent of a Bermuda Triangle situation. However this is worse, the crew begins to get terribly ill, including hallucinations. Noah, however, seems immune. Of course this adds to most of his crew's dislike, but fortunately some of the crew become his allies. Eventually Noah realizes that the Arctic Promise is beset in ice. This leads to an amazing traverse to what they believe is the "Niflheim" drilling platform.
On foot on ice Noah Cabot is traveling with people that hate him, enough to kill him, and some that have until this point given him some mild support. No one really wants to buck the captain. After Noah makes a heroic effort to save a man that falls into a fissure in the ice, his allies are a bit more impressed and their loyalty firms. This is integral to the third part of this novel. As the crew boards the "Neflheim" the terror and tension mount.
Noah Cabot is not a perfect hero, neither is he an antihero. He is at times annoying in that he doesn't stand up for himself, and then at others proves he is intelligent, caring and brave. His love for his wife and child are what drives him and make him sympathetic to the reader. However the otherworldliness of the novel, intertwined with Noah's story is what makes this book so fascinating. This book is not a straight thriller, nor a straight horror story (although, there is plenty of gore if you're looking for that). This book hooks you in from the first page. Not able to put it down, I read it in one day. I recommend it to anyone who likes suspense, philosophy and are willing to suspend their disbelief. Keep an open mind and you will enjoy.