Bingo square: Travel (from Jakarta to Amsterdam)
A couple years ago I read Stuart Turton’s The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. I didn’t like it, exactly, but I also couldn’t put it down and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. When I saw a review of The Devil and the Dark Water on CBR, I checked it out from the library almost immediately. I knew, even if I didn’t really like it, it was going to be an exciting, fascinating, un-put-down-able ride. As it turned out, it was all those things, and bonus, I kind of liked it.
The Devil and The Dark Water takes place in the 1600s, on a Dutch East Indies trading ship, which has left Batavia (modern day Jakarta) headed for Amsterdam. Aboard are the the Sherlockian duo Sammy Pipps, who’s been arrested for a mysterious reason and spends the voyage imprisoned in a cell, and his Watson, Arent Hayes, who’s trying to find out why Sammy was arrested. Also on board are the governor general of Batavia, who is a real POS, and his wife, Sarah, and daughter, Lia, plus an assortment of other passengers and crew. Shortly before the ship disembarks, a leper appears and warns that the ship is marked by the devil and everyone aboard is doomed. Soon thereafter, the devil’s mark starts appearing around the ship.
Various creepy, violent happenings lend a sense of dark foreboding, as the passengers and crew struggle to determine if the threat really is supernatural (a demon named Old Tom, who has a connection to both Arent’s and Creesjie’s past), or if someone aboard is responsible.
If you’ve read Evelyn Hardcastle, you will recognize that feeling of trying to make sense of something that seems like it can only be explained away by the supernatural. The dark, creepy atmosphere is also familiar. There were two things that set The Devil and The Dark Water above Evelyn Hardcastle for me: the first is that there are actually characters in this one that I really liked: Arent, Sara and Lia. The second is the end–much like Evelyn Hardcastle, I have trouble picturing an end that would have truly satisfied me, but I did like this ending much better than the one in that book. It was a bit convoluted and overly complex–to be honest I didn’t fully understand it–but I did find it satisfactory.