Title: All the White Spaces

Author: Ally Wilkes

From the back: In the wake of the First World War, Jonathan Morgan stows away on an Antarctic expedition, determined to find his rightful place in the world of men. Aboard the expeditionary ship of his hero, the world-famous explorer James “Australis” Randall, Jonathan may live as his true self―and true gender―and have the adventures he has always been denied. But not all is smooth sailing: the war casts its long shadow over them all, and grief, guilt, and mistrust skulk among the explorers.

When disaster strikes in Antarctica’s frozen Weddell Sea, the men must take to the land and overwinter somewhere which immediately seems both eerie and wrong; a place not marked on any of their part-drawn maps of the vast white continent. Now completely isolated, Randall’s expedition has no ability to contact the outside world. And no one is coming to rescue them.

In the freezing darkness of the Polar night, where the aurora creeps across the sky, something terrible has been waiting to lure them out into its deadly landscape…

As the harsh Antarctic winter descends, this supernatural force will prey on their deepest desires and deepest fears to pick them off one by one. It is up to Jonathan to overcome his own ghosts before he and the expedition are utterly destroyed.

The gist: Having come across one of Wilkes’ short stories (Where Things Fall from the Sky published at Nightmare Magazine), I was excited to get my hands on a copy of All the White Spaces. And I was not disappointed—Wilkes takes the polar horror so deftly crafted in Where Things Fall from the Sky and weaves it into All the White Spaces, bringing fear, terror, and bone-numbing chills all the way.

There is something about the isolation of polar exploration, the imposition of the endless ice and smothering dark, that resonates somewhere in my horror soul, and Wilkes wonderfully captures the descent into chaos and madness that can claw at humanity when things start to go wrong.

If you’re a fan of AMC’s adaptation of The Terror, or Alma Katsu’s The Hunger, then you’re going to want this on your reading pile.

Favourite line: “Sometimes the South just takes a man”

Read if: You get your horror kicks from less than successful polar expeditions.

Read with: Blankets and a heater on hand.

Get it: All the White Spaces by Ally Wilkes

ARC copy gratefully received from Netgalley and Titan Books

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