devil dark water stuart

The Devil and the Dark Water ★ Stuart Turton

The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton Author of the 7-1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

A murder on the high seas. A detective duo. A demon who may or may not exist.

It’s 1634 and Samuel Pipps, the world’s greatest detective, is being transported to Amsterdam to be executed for a crime he may, or may not, have committed. Traveling with him is his loyal bodyguard, Arent Hayes, who is determined to prove his friend innocent.

But no sooner are they out to sea than devilry begins to blight the voyage. A twice-dead leper stalks the decks. Strange symbols appear on the sails. Livestock is slaughtered.

And then three passengers are marked for death, including Samuel.

Could a demon be responsible for their misfortunes?

With Pipps imprisoned, only Arent can solve a mystery that connects every passenger onboard. A mystery that stretches back into their past and now threatens to sink the ship, killing everybody on board.

Hardcover 463 Pages Published October 2020 Sourcebooks Landmark

Review The Devil and the Dark Water

★ Review ★

Contains minor spoilers

Honestly, how could I not read this book? Demons, Pirates & a mystery to be solved…

The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton is Turton’s second published novel. Coming off the heels of The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. which had received some literary awards. The Devil and the Dark Water, on the other hand, hasn’t. I have no basis for comparing his writing, as I have yet to actually read The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, although I did pick up a copy at my local used bookstore.

The Devil and the Dark Water is told from multiple perspectives but generally follows Lutenienant Arent Hayes as he works to unsolve the mystery of who wants to sink the Saardam. From start to finish, The Devil and the Dark Water is simply a twist on the beloved and classic Sherlock Holmes. Our dearest Arent is simply John Watson, and his employer, Samuel Pipps, is Holmes himself. The details are all there, right down to the embellished stories Arent writes of their adventures.

This particular adventure takes place on the Saardam, the lead ship in a fleet heading from Batavia to Amsterdam way back in the 1600s. Personally, I had some issues with the ship logistics. I had a hard time wrapping my brain around the layout of the ship; Turton goes out of his way to remind the reader, time and time again, that the ship is crowded and overfilled. That there is no room to move freely, people are sleeping wherever they can find an empty space. Yet, when the time or circumstances require it, there seems to be ample room.

devil dark water stuart

This is an issue I run into frequently, as I personally can not imagine some imaginary authors are trying to create. Under normal circumstances, I can just be all ‘Ok, we’re in a forest,’ I don’t need to know the details of the forest. I know what a forest looks like. For some reason, though, I had trouble with this damn ship & it’s not like I don’t know what they look like because I do. Credit to Turton, though, at the end of The Devil and the Dark Water, he takes responsibility for throwing away logistics in favour of his plot.

The game is afoot…

The game begins as passengers are getting ready to board their ships. when a tongueless leper preaching on the docks threatens the Saardam. We soon find out the game had truly begun roughly thirty years prior when a devil named Old Tom had been summoned. It really took me some time to get into the story Turton was telling, and unfortunately, not too soon after that, I figured out who Old Tom was; Chapter 45, Page 259, 57% read. I’ll give Turton more credit; he tried so very hard for me not to figure it out. Truly he tied hard to pull my attention off this particular character. Turton had me questioning myself as he threw other characters under the ship to distract the reader.

Sherlock retelling Devil and the Dark Water

I love working through a good mystery just like Pipps.

I generally liked Turton’s writing, but I feel like I was supposed to be more afraid. A devil is hunting a boat full of people across the seas, but not once did I feel the fear of Turton’s characters. Three unholy miracles happen aboard the ship, and still, I felt nothing. Animals had been slaughtered, people murdered. A leper is running around building alters and carving the mark of Old Tom into anything he can get his little hands on. Whispers in the night requesting a small favour in return for their heart’s desire and allegiance to Old Tom. I felt no urgency or real fear from or for anyone.

This isn’t a character-driven story. In the end, I could give a flying fuck about any of them.

Without the investment of an emotional connection to the characters, the plot suffers.

stuart turton devil dark water

I have mixed feelings about The Devil and the Dark Water – Sure I liked it, but I sure as hell didn’t love it either. There was one final twist at the end of Turton’s tale, and while I didn’t mind this twist, I didn’t particularly enjoy the ending. There didn’t seem to be any true finality of the story. Granted, that’s great if Turton intends to write another tale of Pipps and Hayes. Otherwise, everyone just sort of ran off into the sunset all happily ever after like.

If I was younger, perhaps if I still wore rose-coloured glasses. Maybe if I didn’t view the world the way I do. If my taste for murder, mystery and mayhem wasn’t more diabolical than Old Tom’s, I would have enjoyed The Devil and the Dark Water more.

★ Rating ★

devil dark water stuart

★ Quotes ★

The kind of terror even high walls and a company of soldiers doesn’t fix.

A curse that wouldn’t be satisfied until the whisper had its pound of flesh.

He felt like a pig that had survived the slaughterhouse only to run straight into the kitchen.

Buy Evelyn Hardcastle Books

★ Links ★

Purchase : amazon.ca kobo indigoChapters amazon.com indieBound barnes&noble

Stuart Turton : webpagegoodreads instagram twitter

Book Reviews Aphantasia Bookworm

Back to Main Review Page

%d bloggers like this: