I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.In the Arctic Sun by Rowan Hill
Published by D & T Publishing on February 25, 2022
Genres: Horror, Mental Illness, Creature
Format: ARC, eBook
Buy on Amazon
The trees of Alaska's Arctic wilderness have always been Sarah's sentries and her house, a fortress, isolated from society and an abusive marriage.
Until it isn't.
The arrival of a new neighbor and an oil company drilling through primordial, cold earth changes the forest of her valley. It bleeds through the serenity and disrupts her home, her sanity. Plagued with insomnia from the midnight sun, Sarah increasingly suspects something is using her sanctuary to hide from the bright, incessant light. An insidious menace, ancient and beyond explanation, using the wilderness for cover. Her personal demon that cares nothing for Sarah or her mental health. Something that won't stop until it takes it all.
In the Arctic Sun is Rowan Hill’s debut novella that promises to mess with your head. I’ve had the pleasure of reading Hill’s short stories and have always been transfixed with the atmosphere her writing always creates. The story perfectly examines the emotional turmoil the body can go through when they are robbed of sleep. Sleep deprivation is a torture method for a reason! The Arctic sun. Alaskan setting. Oil digging disrupting the fabric of her peace. It’s a no-brainer.
So, did In the Arctic Sun deliver?
Does a bear shit in the woods?
The prologue opens and gives the reader an immediate sense of place. You are in no doubt that this is a harsh and unforgiving landscape. Imagine watching a movie, it’s the opener that spans over the village, in slow motion, promising something much darker, something the inhabitants can’t see. It’s delicious and the fear of the unknown sends chills down your spine.
Sarah hasn’t been sleeping well, the Arctic Sun plagues her. Insomnia wreaks havoc on her body and mind. Living in Alaska was never on her bucket list but with the suggestion coming from her husband that they get away from the Californian rat race and live somewhere remote and secluded, she never imagined being there, but she doesn’t exactly hate it either. An ex-lawyer it’s good to feel less stress and just live a quieter life but she can’t deny either that this is a harsh way of living. The Arctic Sun is penetrating everything though, she’s drowning, the harsh light invading her senses. Her marriage is crumbling after an incident of domestic violence. She’s in uncharted territories and doesn’t know how to wade to the shore.
Mental health is a massive subplot in the story. It makes the links between sleep and how it can affect behaviours. You don’t have to wonder for long – the author has Sarah smash through those walls and focuses a big lens on the complications of mental health, isolation, and lack of sleep.
Sarah’s safe and calm life is upturned with the arrival of an oil digging crew. The noise is off the scale and adds to the problems Sarah seems to be experiencing. Her husband has left after a physical altercation, and she can hear scuttling under the floor and on the roof. Why are these things only an issue since her husband left the home?
Hill does a great job of making the reader question the reality of the matter. Gaslighting? Well, if it is she does a bloody good job of it because I was left with more questions…first time I’ve shouted at my kindle! I loved the motivations of the human side and the non-human side. Rowan Hill is one of those talents that can anchor a character and draw all their nightmares out for all to see. I flew through this book, like Alice going down the rabbit hole, it swallowed whole my reason and my expectation.
In the Arctic Sun is mesmerising. It has you in its grips with the very first page. I’ve been searching for a book that could give me the same feelings as when I first consumed IT and Hill delivered on that. The author is a master puppeteer.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rowan Hill is a young(ish) woman with Southern roots, California born, and raised in Australia. She has lived nearly everywhere else since leaving Oz after college and has a bloody hard time when someone asks ‘Where are you from?’. Beginning her career teaching high school English and Drama in the Australian bush, Rowan eventually traveled the world and found her love of languages. After earning her Masters in Applied Linguistics, she did a lot more traveling and teaching until she finally just decided to throw in the towel and earn a Doctorate.
During a period between jobs and countries, she thought she might fulfill her lifelong dream of writing. No word yet on if it’s going to pan out. Check back soon?