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The Devil and the Dark Water

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A murder on the high seas. A remarkable 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. Travelling 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. Anyone could be to blame. Even a demon.

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

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

494 pages, Paperback

First published October 1, 2020

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About the author

Stuart Turton

7 books8,750 followers
Stuart lives in London with his amazing wife and daughter. He drinks lots of tea.

What else?

​When he left university he went travelling for three months and stayed away for five years. Every time his parents asked when he’d be back he told them next week, and meant it.

Stuart is not to be trusted. In the nicest possible way.

He’s got a degree in English and Philosophy, which makes him excellent at arguing and terrible at choosing degrees.

Having trained for no particular career, he has dabbled in most of them. He stocked shelves in a Darwin bookshop, taught English in Shanghai, worked for a technology magazine in London, wrote travel articles in Dubai, and now he’s a freelance journalist. None of this was planned, he just kept getting lost on his way to other places.

He likes a chat. He likes books. He likes people who write books and people who read books. He doesn’t know how to write a biography, so should probably stop before he tells you about his dreams or something. It was lovely to meet you, though.

Stuart's debut novel is called The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle in the UK and The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle in the US. They're the same book. Don't fret.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 6,927 reviews
Profile Image for Emily (Books with Emily Fox).
531 reviews58.5k followers
October 9, 2020
A murder on the high seas. A detective duo. A demon who may or may not exist.

(4.25?) After reading The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, I couldn’t wait to read anything else by the author. I wasn’t disappointed!

I loved how once again, the murder-mystery was happening in a contained environment (the boat!) with lots of possible suspects. They all had interesting background and possible motives and the possibly of supernatural kept me guessing.

I do think that once again the ending was the weakest point of the book but I think if you’ve enjoyed his first book, you’ll enjoy this one too!

PS. Calling one of your main characters "Arent" is cruel to all your non-native English speaking readers... XD
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,536 reviews9,779 followers
January 31, 2023
In 1634, passengers and crew begin boarding the merchant ship, Saardam, for a voyage from Batavia to Amsterdam.

On the docks, a leper suddenly appears high atop a pile of crates and issues a warning that the voyage will end in merciless ruin.

He subsequently bursts into flames and dies a very public and painful death. The observers, although chilled by his damning proclamation, shrug it off as the ramblings of a madman.

It's harder to ignore the devil's mark that miraculously appears on the sails, however. The incident, understandably, casts a sense of foreboding over the entire voyage.

Samuel Pipps, a well-respected detective, happens to be aboard for the journey. Surprising to some is the fact that he is being transported as a prisoner, not a free traveler.

Due to this status, he is locked in a grimy, claustrophobic cell, without even enough room to stand up.

Luckily, his faithful bodyguard, and our intrepid hero, Lieutenant Arent Hayes, is also aboard. He just so happens to have a close connection to the Governor General, Jan Haan, also aboard.

Through Arent's suggestion, Samuel earns the right to be taken out of his cell every night to get some fresh air upon the decks.

As mysterious happenings plague the ship, paired with reoccurrences of the devil's mark, Arent teams up with Jan Haan's lovely wife, Sara Wessel, to try to get to the bottom of it.

An important piece of Arent's past, the lore of a demon named Old Tom, plays a large role in this story. Some say Old Tom is aboard the ship; that he's the cause of all the problems.

There's a ghost ship stalking them, the food supply is treacherously low, a storm threatens to sink them, people die, things disappear and throughout it all, Old Tom is trying to recruit passengers to the darkside.

This book has such a vibe. I don't quite have words for what it is, but I love it!

As with The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, The Devil and the Dark Water is a complex and suspenseful mystery.

The tone of this novel, the is it supernatural, is it not-feel of it all was masterfully done. Additionally, the use of Arent and Sara as an amateur sleuthing team was incredibly executed.

Together they are trying to work out who among them has been possessed by Old Tom. Their investigation has a lot of twists and turns, casting doubts on numerous passengers and crew.

All of the characters were so interesting. Anyone could have been the baddie. I had no clue who to suspect!

The entire story was completely original. I have never read anything quite like it. Turton's imagination knows no bounds.

Apparently, 17th-Century Supernatural Mysteries are now my jam, because I am OBSESSED with this!

Thank you so much to the publisher, SourceBooks Landmark, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. This was by far, one of my most anticipated reads of the year, so I certainly appreciate it.

I am such of fan of Turton's writing and look forward to seeing what he comes up with next!

Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews155k followers
December 8, 2020

Just published my November Reading Vlog!
The Written Review

“Some songs weren’t mere songs. They were memories curled tight and set alight.”
Samuel Pipps and Arent Hayes are the dynamic duo responsible for stopping the most notorious crimes across the world.

However, this last one might just be too much for even the Great Pipps.

It centers on one, terrible boat...the very boat leading Pipps to his execution.

Pipps is currently locked in the bellows of the ship, leaving his bodyguard (Arent) to deal with the mystery.

And what a mystery it is - a twice-dead leper on the sea, symbols being written into the wood, whispering through the walls and a possible-demon to boot.

Aren't isn't the great detective...but when people are marked for death, he decides that he will have to be.
“Questions are swords and answers are shields...”

After reading 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle...I am prepared to be just blown away by Turton's second book...and the verdict is....it was good.

It wasn't MIND-BLOWING like his first one but I was also entertained throughout.

I like the way the mystery was structured and the setting chosen - it had Sherlock-and-Watson vibes, but with enough twists to make it unique.

I thought it was fun to see "Watson" (Arent) handle the mystery, and I was cheering him on with each new reveal.

I adored Sara, the much-grieved wife, who assists Arent with his mystery.

And I loved the way she found ways to work around the patriarchy that governed every moment of her life.

And the grand reveal - it definitely wasn't what I expected but it fit so well with the story! So happy with the way it turned out!

HUGE thank you to Cristina from Sourcebooks for sending this one my way!

YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,195 reviews40.6k followers
June 7, 2021
Ship ahoy! Prepare yourself to have a dangerous intercontinental trip to Europe and feel the vibes of Pirates of Caribbean meets Murder in the Orient Express vibes embellished with supernatural/paranormal elements.

Bring out your pop corns and refreshments because this is going to be unputdownable, addictive, action packed, dazzling, mysterious, twisty experiment and stock your adult diapers because during your read you want to cut your restroom breaks and be fully concentrated on the story, flipping pages. ( I bribed my husband to put a slice of pizza on my mouth and move my mouth up and down to help me chew so I wouldn’t get starved when I focused on this incredibly exciting story! Good thing he accepted my pay in Belgium chocolates!)

Tatatataaaa! The year is 1634 (when I write this review I can hear the voice over of Morgan Freeman in my head which improves my encouragement), an East Indian Company ship named “Saardam” is about to set sail and the passengers slowly arrive to board into the ship including a special passenger- a very famous detective Samuel Pipps: arrested and sent to Amsterdam for his trial accompanied by his devoted best friend& protector Arent Hayes whose only intention is proving Pipps’ innocence to the authorities.

Don’t worry: Pipps doesn’t make stand on the railing of the ship, grabbing Hayes’ arms as he extends them out. There is no line in the book like: “I’m flying” and we don’t hear “My heart will go on” in the background. So their journey seemed a routine and necessary trip till a leper without tongue appears from nowhere, shouting at them: “they’re all gonna die and there is a devil in this ship coming after them” before put himself into the fire. Yes, I called it: that’s how you make a great entrance!

The governor general of Batavia is also on board. Arent asks for his wife Sara for the help after the unexpected and shocking dead of leper. But as we’re introduced with his abuser, arrogant, dangerous husband we realize Sara cannot get his support to solve the mystery. And the leper’s premonition comes true, already three deaths are marked by the devil and it seems like he has no intention to stop. But I’m stopping here because giving any more details may ruin the big twists (they keep coming and you need to sit tight not to collapse after the head spinning, fast paced, intense, action packed, terrifying chapters.)

I have to admit: I enjoyed “7 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle” even it burned each grey cells of mine and for one month I could only watch “Kardashians” and “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” because these were the only shows can be watched if you feel like lackwit with a brain cannot function properly.

But this book was way too much better than the first one: it was smart, entertaining, surprising, gripping, adventurous and remarkable. So if I could give five and half stars or six solid stars to that book, I would give it without thinking a second.

This is best fast paced, twisty, exhilarating historical fiction I’ve read this year and I’m so pleased to recommend it to its genre lovers.

Special thanks to NetGalley and dear Cristiana Arreola for sharing the ARC’s widget with me in exchange my honest review. I truly enjoyed it!
Profile Image for jessica.
2,533 reviews32.4k followers
September 28, 2020
ST has once again written a book that all mystery lovers will obsess over.

the main duo are very sherlock and watson, while the remaining ensemble of characters remind me very much of agatha christies stories. and all set on the high seas, where everything is at stake and there is nowhere to hide. its the perfect set-up.

this is a story full of adventure, mutiny, dark spirits, charming passengers, ruthless crewmates, and a fascinating mystery. i honestly couldnt have asked for a better time.

thank you so much to sourcebooks landmark for the ARC!

4.5 stars
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,600 reviews24.8k followers
September 12, 2020
Stuart Turton returns with a cracking piece of historical fiction, a spine chiller that drips with colour and atmosphere set in the 17th century. In 1634, the cursed and doomed East India merchant ship, the Saardam, carrying spices and other mysterious cargo, sets sail from Batavia (Jakarta, Indonesia) for Amsterdam, voyaging on the dangerous high seas, stalked by life threatening storms, plagued by fears, folklore and superstitions of the period. There appear to be the presence of devils in the form of 'Old Tom', the devil's mark, a leper ghost with his tongue cut out, a crew of murderers and cutthroats, a Daemonologica, and prophecies of 3 unholy miracles that will take place on the ship, feeding the chaos and mayhem that comes to pass as the body count rises. Travelling on the ship is Sammy Pipps, a famous detective, a prisoner set to be executed in Amsterdam, accompanied by his loyal bodyguard, Lieutenant Arent Hayes, a relationship that echoes that of Sherlock Holmes and Watson.

Passengers include a group of nobles, headed by the Governor-General, Jan Haan, a powerful, ruthless, and cruel man who controls and beats his wife, Sara Wessel. Sara has refused to be cowed, has lost two sons, is a gifted healer, and is intent on protecting and looking out for her genius daughter, Lia, imprisoned all her life. This is a world in which women have no rights, even if they are noble, Sara tries to get Lia to hide her superior knowledge from men, men are dangerous, fickle of mood, likely to lash out without reason. With Pipps imprisoned in his cell, it is Arent that is tasked to investigate the crimes set to take place, aided by the able Sara. Arent has no faith in his abilities, he believes only in Sammy, Sammy is his religion, but he has no choice but to turn detective. Does he stand any chance of succeeding, surrounded as he is by sinners, intrigue, greedy, ambitious and evil men, and devil whispers in the dark bargaining for souls?

Turton's storytelling is vivid and vibrantly alive with its details of life on the Saardam, and his creation of a wide ranging cast of characters beguile, charm, scare and horrify, individuals that including a dwarf, swashbuckling musketeers, witchfinders, the Governor-General's mistress, Creesjie Jens, and the feared boatswain, Johannes Wyck. This is a fantastic, hugely entertaining read, superbly plotted, that will have you investing in the characters, holding your interest right from the get go, having you avidly turning the pages until the sparkling reveal at the end. Do yourself a favour and read this! Highly recommended. Many thanks to Bloomsbury for an ARC.
Profile Image for Melissa ~ Bantering Books.
204 reviews782 followers
February 10, 2021
Be sure to visit Bantering Books to read all my latest reviews.

Review first published by Mystery and Suspense Magazine on 2/6/21.

The Devil and the Dark Water is my kind of novel.

It’s a brilliant mystery. It’s a rollicking sea adventure. It’s an eerie supernatural tale.

And with it, Stuart Turton has hit the ball clear out of the park, inarguably proving to the literary world that a one-hit wonder, he is not. As a follow-up to his bestselling 2018 debut, The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, his sophomore effort is an absolute stunner.

I will even venture to say it’s novelistic perfection.

The year is 1634. Samuel Pipps, the world’s greatest detective, is imprisoned on a ship bound for Amsterdam, where he will be tried and executed for an unknown crime upon his arrival. Also on the ship is Arent Hayes, Sammy’s friend and personal bodyguard, and Sara Wessel, a high-ranking noblewoman with a secret plan of her own.

Shortly after departure, the ship is plagued with strange events of a demonic nature – a sail is marked with a malevolent symbol, a dead leper haunts the passageways, and livestock are slaughtered. And the passengers hear the whisper of an evil voice in the night, tempting them with their innermost desires and foretelling three unholy miracles that will bring nothing but death and destruction.

With Sammy locked away in a cell, it is up to Arent and Sara to investigate the mystery of the demon — and stop it in its tracks before the ship and all its passengers are doomed.

Hmm. How shall I begin? I am at a loss as to where I should best start this review because there is just so much to admire about The Devil and the Dark Water. I am uncertain as to whether I will effectively convey the full extent of its intelligence and beauty.

In short, the novel is a paranormal Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie mash-up. We have the ingenious Sherlockian detective duo of Sammy and Arent, and also a large cast of nefarious characters, similar to what is often seen in Christie’s novels. We have the dryly sarcastic humor and scientific logic of Holmes, as well as Christie’s trademark red herrings and elements of the more intuitive detective work of her infamous Hercule Poirot.

And we have the exceptional writing skills of Stuart Turton to tie it all together.

The mystery that Turton has crafted is smart and extensively complex. It has numerous moving pieces and parts, and as I mentioned above, there are many players involved with contradictory motives. In the hands of a lesser writer, such a long list of characters would result in readers’ minds being messily boggled. But Turton does an amazing job of gradually adding the characters into the narrative, one by one, and giving each individual a distinctly memorable personality. Character confusion is really very minimal. (Plus, there’s a handy dandy Passenger and Crew Manifest in the front of the novel to aid the reader if names become jumbled.)

Turton also never overwhelms the reader with the intricacy of the plot. His writing has a skillful ease to it and is lovely to read. Ever so gently, he carries the reader along as he slowly reveals the interconnectedness of the mystery’s pieces, leaving not even a ghost of a plot hole. And for fun, he throws in plenty of what I call “mini twists” – small, unexpected surprises that work well to maintain a high level of engagement and interest in the story.

But even with Turton’s methodical unfurling of the novel’s layers, the core mystery of The Devil and the Dark Water is virtually unsolvable. Believe me — from my armchair, I tried. I tried hard. And while I did manage to snap into place one extremely important aspect of the plot, I had to eventually accept the fact that I would come no closer to the solution.

And never could I have imagined the freedom the insolvability would hand to me. I could relax, quiet my mind, and simply enjoy the novel, straight through to its grand and satisfying conclusion.

Hands down, The Devil and the Dark Water is one of the finest mysteries I have read in years. It’s clever and fun. Addictively page-turning. And so very, very entertaining.

What a dreadful mistake it would be to miss it.

Bantering Books
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.7k followers
December 11, 2020
4.5 stars! Dark waters indeed. This ship carries a cargo of murder and greed.
The 17th century Dutch galleon Batavia

Review first posted on FantasyLiterature.com:

Stuart Turton’s debut novel, The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, was one of my favorite reads of 2018, a compulsively readable and wildly original murder mystery, an homage to Agatha Christie, with a science fictional wrapper. Turton’s second novel, The Devil and the Dark Water, is a highly twisty and eerie Sherlockian mystery, set in the seventeenth century on a large ship traveling from Batavia (now Jakarta, Indonesia) to Amsterdam. At first glance it’s not much at all like 7½ Deaths, except in the intricacy of the plot … and the way it mixes together different genres, and the vivid and complex characters who are far more than they first appear, and the insightful and subtle writing … well, perhaps his two books have more in common than I first thought.

The noble passengers who board the Saardam in Batavia in 1634 include Governor General Jan Haan, a ruthless leader who has been called back to Amsterdam to join the wealthy Dutch East India Company’s ruling body, the “Gentleman 17.” Haan’s entourage includes his deeply dissatisfied wife Sara Wessel, their bright young teenage daughter Lia, and Haan’s lovely and accomplished mistress Creesjie. Haan is also bringing along a manacled prisoner, a renowned and brilliant detective named Samuel Pipps, together with Pipps’ assistant and sometimes bodyguard Arent Hayes. Pipps is under sentence of death, to be carried out once they reach Amsterdam, though Pipps swears he has no idea why, and Haan isn’t saying. Haan is also packing a large, heavy box on the trip, holding something mysterious and extremely valuable, described only as the Folly.

Before the Saardam even sets sail, a shocking event occurs: a leper loudly warns the passengers and crew that the devil will also be sailing with them, and that the ship will never reach Amsterdam. When the leper perishes in flames and examination of the dying man discloses that his tongue was cut out, suspicion and fear begin to percolate and spread. Samuel Pipps is interested in solving this apparent murder, but since he’s locked in a tiny, foul cell on the ship, he’ll need the help of Arent to do it. Arent fears that he isn’t cut out for this work, but finds help from an unexpected person. They’re a rare source of light and good on a cursed ship where the crew is vicious, the passengers untrustworthy, and the devil “Old Tom” appears to hold sway.

For much of The Devil and the Dark Water, it’s unclear whether this is a supernatural fantasy or a secular whodunit, or both. Inexplicable events occur, Old Tom whispers enticingly to passengers to assist in his evil plans, and it’s easy for the characters and the reader to believe that something wicked and unworldly is at work.

But Turton takes his time weaving this story, pulling in characters’ backstories that both illuminate and mystify, and twining in social issue threads of inequality, sexism, and capitalistic greed.
The rich mistakenly believed their wealth was a servant, delivering them whatever they wanted.

They were wrong.

Wealth was their master, and it was the only voice they heeded. Friendships were sacrificed at its behest, principles trampled to protect it. No matter how much they had, it was never enough. They went mad chasing more until they sat lonely atop their hoard, despised and afraid.
The pacing bogs down at times with all the details and complexities, but Turton’s skillful writing pulls the reader into this tale. He gives clever nods to Sherlock Holmes and Watson, Treasure Island, and many other tropes of various genres, while breathing fresh life into them. With all the horror, greed, vengefulness and general darkness that haunts the ship and the people aboard it, they — and we — can still find reasons to hope for something better. It’s a marvelous story.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the eARC for review!

Initial post: Please sophomore novel don't let me down here. I thought this author's first book, The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, was flat-out amazing.
Profile Image for sarah.
391 reviews261 followers
October 3, 2020
"Courage isn't an absence of fear. It's the light we find when fear is all there is."

I am disappointed.
In this book. In myself for not DNF'ing it. In the unfulfilled potential this story had. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The Devil and the Dark Water is Stuart Turton's sophomore novel set in 1634 almost entirely on a merchant ship 'saardam'. The world's greatest detective Samuel Pipps and his bodyguard Arent Hayes are being taken from Batavia (present day Indonesia) to Amsterdam. Pipps has been imprisoned in the ship for crimes Arent does not know, but he is determined to prove his friend innocent. But things are not always what they seem in the Saardam, and a series of mysterious and bloody events have been set into action after a leper bursts into flames after seemingly placing a curse upon the ship. Is it the work of the devil, Old Tom, or simply the worst of humanity?

I haven't read Evelyn Hardcastle, but the idea of seemed so interesting and the reviews mostly positive that all I needed to see was Turton's name attached to this and I requested it. I maintain my interest in that book even after this one because the premise sounds so much more interesting to me.
That being said, the idea behind this book also seemed like something I would like. I was so excited to feel the Sherlockian x Pirates of the Caribbean vibes I had heard about- but it ultimately fell flat for me.

"Questions are swords and answers are shields."

From some of the reviews of Evelyn Hardcastle, I was expecting to be confused with what was happening in this book but my main problem was unexpectedly being bored. It was so slow. The pacing felt off for a good chunk of this book and it felt like I was wading through mud trying to get to the end. In my opinion, it could have been a good 100 pages shorter. I read an arc, so this may well be tidied in the finished copy but I noticed a few passages saying almost the exact same thing being repeated throughout the book. All this together made it difficult for me to push through the book, but I continued to have hope that it would improve and so decided against DNF'ing it.

While the ending was satisfactory, it didn't make up for the rest of the book and so I definitely regret slogging through over 400 pages to get to it. To be honest, I was seriously considering rating it one star for a time, and the only things that prevented me from doing so were the ending, some quotes and the atmosphere.

"Wealth was a key and poverty was a prison, and they'd been born shackled through no fault of their own. It was senseless and unfair, and mankind could withstand almost anything except unfairness."

This book definitely succeeded in maximising the setting to its upmost potential and it added a layer of atmosphere that I desperately needed in pushing through. The ship was described in a vivid way that made it easy for me to picture it. However, the stagnant and almost claustrophobic feeling of spending the whole book on one ship also contributed to a lack of interesting events and changes in scenery. In addition, while the setting was well developed I didn't feel like the time period was. I could easily picture the ship and its inhabitants, but it didn't feel like they were from the 17th century. Some phrases felt quite modern and I found myself forgetting that this was set almost 400 years ago. Not only did the characters feel unrealistic for the time, but many of them were overly clichéd. I am not sure if that was the author's intention to perhaps make fun of typical mystery tropes and clichés, but it didn't come across like that to me and instead felt like lazy writing.

However, while the modern influences were a bit jarring I did appreciate the addition of a little feminism and subversion of women's roles.

"Strong is strong and weak is weak, and it doesn't matter if you wear breeches or skirts or if you're the latter. Life will hammer you flat"

Overall, take this review with a grain of salt as I have seen many other 5 star ratings and positivity surrounding this book. If you don't mind a slow going mystery and you enjoyed Turton's debut- I would probably still recommend it. Definitely temper your expectations and don't go in thinking of it as a thriller because you will probably be disappointed like me.

Thank you to Sourcebooks Landmark for this ARC

Release Date: 6 October 2020
Profile Image for Elle.
587 reviews1,313 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
October 20, 2020
Oof I hate to do it, but after trying to read this book for a ~month~ now at this point, I’m gonna have to DNF @ 40%. Sorry guys! I’ve never seen a murder mystery go so long without an actual murder. I can’t believe this is the same author who wrote The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, but idk maybe his next one will be better? Too long, too boring and too little happening for me.

*Thanks to Sourcebook Landmark, BookExpo & Publishers Weekly for an advance copy!
Profile Image for Icey.
150 reviews108 followers
December 11, 2021
In short, Sherlock Holmes on the high seas.
In this maritime mystery, our dear doctor Watson became our bodyguard Hayes, a broad-shouldered man who had to solve an impossible mystery and tried to protect our handsome and witty detective Pipps, who was somehow in chains.

The Bear and The Sparrow.
I certainly cannot come up with a cuter nickname than this.

This story surprised me. Brutal and feral, Stuart Turton introduced you to a ship where greed and corruption were the rules of living. With the numerous twist coming, you were transported to that tumultuous voyage.

The storm of hidden dangers, the gloom of conspiracy, the curse of the dark water.

When the past was stirred, the future was threatened; what would you do?

- -“You were a thief?”
- -“And a dancer, and an acrobat, and an alchemist. For the most part, I was a survivor, and I still am.”
Profile Image for Oscar.
256 reviews93 followers
October 11, 2020
"Arent Hayes was a zealot. His religion was Samuel Pipps."

My mind is fucking blown.

Just read it.

15 or so characters and one of them may or may not be the devil doing some horrific acts and whispering their greatest desires. Samuel 'Sammy' Pipps together with his trusted friend and assistant, Arent Hayes, and their new found allies aboard the ship must race against time to defeat this devil known as Old Tom. Stuart Turton's The Devil and the Dark Water is fast-paced and gripping novel that blown my brains into bits especially the ending. The clues at first in the story were very very vague that got me like "what does this even mean?" but yeah they all caught me unguardedly. This book reminded me so much why I love mystery/thrillers.
Profile Image for Carolyn Walsh .
1,472 reviews597 followers
October 10, 2020
Many thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins Canada for this gripping, historical/mystery story set on the high seas. The time is 1634 aboard a merchant ship, the Saardam, transporting spices and unknown cargo to Amsterdam from Batavia (Jakarta, Indonesia). This is a perilous 8-month journey and at best of times would be threatened by storms and pirates, and hostility within the crew. The journey has a claustrophobic atmosphere. It is an enthralling, complicated mystery with fascinating characters, occult folklore, and paranormal/supernatural beliefs that bring fear to those onboard who are beset by 17th-century superstition.

While boarding the ship, the passengers hear a fearsome curse. A crippled leper in rags has climbed to a height on the dock. He utters the words that the ship is in danger and people are doomed to die. There is a devil on the ship coming after them. The leper then sets himself on fire and dies. It is learned that his tongue had been cut out, so where did the words originate? Later he is sighted onboard the ship. How can that be?

Onboard the Saardam is the worlds' most famous detective, Sammy Pipps. Much has been written about Sammy's exploits and crimes solved. He is accompanied by his friend and bodyguard, Arent Hayes, a huge ex-mercenary with a kind, gentle nature. There will be plenty of puzzles to be solved on the long voyage. Unfortunately, Sammy is being transported in shackles to Amerstadam to stand trial and punishment for a crime unknown to Arent. Sammy is placed in a small, dark cell and implores his partner to find out what is going on. It is left up to Arent to solve the weird, mysterious occurrences. He has no confidence in his detective ability. His previous investigation found the wrong man guilty. Now he has been commanded to discover if the devil is on board, called 'Old Tom' by the superstitious.

The Governor-General, Jan Haan, is present. He is a wealthy, powerful, and cruel man who seems to be more in control of the ship than its captain. He intimidates and beats his wife, noblewoman Sara. She is a determined woman with a mind of her own who has been suppressed by the lowly role of women in the 17th century. Her daughter, Lia, has been taught to keep her high intelligence secret so as not to insult the men who do not believe women should think for themselves. Sara's husband's mistress, Creesjie is also present. She is a sexy former prostitute and later a courtesan. Sara becomes friends with the cheerful Ceesjie and also with Arent. Sara teams up with Arent due to her curiosity about some frightening sightings and mysterious deaths and to feel independent from her stifling husband.

The ship is peopled with all sorts of diverse, enigmatic characters. There are sinners, scoundrels killers, a dwarf, witchfinders, fearsome musketeers, the powerful and greedy, a cruel boatswain, an elderly holy man, and sailors with secret backgrounds. This sets up a dazzling and exciting plot which includes rivalries, revenge, and betrayals mixed with fearsome events that touch on the supernatural.

I thought the middle was slow-paced with some filler that made it longer than need be (3 Stars). This detracted from its tension and suspense. The clever conclusion was ingenious and rated a 5 star with twists and revelations that I never could have anticipated.
Profile Image for Labijose.
958 reviews414 followers
May 6, 2021
Me apetecía una de barcos y aventuras, pero tengo que decir que “El diablo y el mar oscuro” no ha cubierto esas expectativas, y ya me fastidia. Una trama de detectives a lo Sherlock Holmes y Watson (aquí el verdadero protagonista sería Watson, pues Sherlock se pasa la mitad de la novela encerrado), con el añadido de que ocurre en un barco, en pleno siglo XVII, durante la travesía del galeón Saardam desde Batavia (las Indias Orientales) hacia Ámsterdam. Si a esto añadimos también que el ambiente de la novela está impregnado de asesinatos misteriosos y elementos sobrenaturales, podemos pensar que tenemos en las manos un novelón que te va a tener absorbido de principio a fin…. pero resulta que no. Conmigo no, al menos.

Lástima, porque la premisa se las prometía, pero me ha resultado una lectura lenta, y, hasta cierto punto, aburrida. Si la analizas, pasan cosas, pero nada que te haga desear pasar páginas para ver qué viene a continuación. El autor nos da la barrila con El viejo Tom, El Leproso, Los Tres Milagros Demoníacos, La Octava Lámpara, y, sobre todo, con La Locura. Todo entre crimen y crimen, entre tormentas y motines, latigazos, duelos, mucha cháchara, pero poca chicha. Y por si ello no fuera suficiente, tras quinientas páginas, llegamos a un final que, francamente, me ha parecido …. A) Muy precipitado y poco elaborado. O B) Una franca tomadura de pelo al lector. Así que lo dejaré en tres estrellas, aunque ganas me dan de bajarlo a dos. Y espero que si me decido a leer su anterior novela (“Las siete muertes de Evelyn Hardcastle”), también muy alabada y publicitada, pueda aumentar mi estima por este autor. Y entretanto, ¿alguien me puede aclarar qué carajo era La Locura?
Profile Image for James Tivendale.
311 reviews1,327 followers
December 20, 2020
The Devil and the Dark Water is a mystery thriller novel set in 1634. The majority of the story is set on a merchant ship called the Saardam as it travels from Batavia to Amsterdam. In addition to the typical silks, spices, pepper and mace, the ship is also transporting, in shackles, the world-famous detective Samuel Pipps.

"‘Sammy Pipps isn’t simply clever,’ argued Arent. ‘He can lift up the edges of the world and peek beneath. He has a gift I’ll never understand. Believe me, I’ve tried.’"

Samuel is the prisoner of General Jan Haan, an extremely powerful and influential figure, and is being transported to Amsterdam at the request of the Gentleman 17 who wish to see him executed. Us readers and the majority of the boat's travellers (nobles, musketeers, sailors and more) have no idea what Pipps is accused of and whether or not he's guilty. He is a celebrity, though, known by all for his crime-solving prowess and deduction skills.

If Pipps is initially presented as this tale's Holmes, then Arent is Turton's take on Watson. Arent is a lieutenant, mercenary, and a scarred brute of a fellow who records the most exciting of Pipps' escapades for the masses to read.

Just prior to the Saardam's departure there is a murder committed and a threat against the safety of all aboard the vessel. This sort of intrigue, mystery, and the fact there is a heinous crime to solve falls, undeniably, into Pipps' wheelhouse. Yet, with the sleuth being locked up in a tiny, gloomy cell, it passes on to Arent, who has picked up some of Pipps' talents himself over the years, and some companions he meets on board the ship, to investigate.

"The mercenary who saw the spear, then thought about it too long, ended up with half of it buried in his chest. Nowadays, he’d see the spear, wonder who made it, how it had come to be in the soldier’s hands, who the soldier was, why he was there … on and on and on."

I can't imagine that I am the only person who has done this, but I went into The Devil and the Dark Water expecting a typical and safe Sherlock Holmes-esque adventure. For me personally, if that would have been the outcome then it would have been fine. What was actually presented by Turton though is an extremely clever, detailed, unpredictable, and slightly twisted crime drama, surrounded by the dread and uncertainty of the seemingly endless oceans. Mixing the above literary concoction with demons, forgotten pasts, complex relationships, life at sea, and a handful of geniuses on the ship makes for quite a reading experience.

"‘I’ll not have some bastard drown me before the governor general hangs me.’"

The pages are bursting with many memorable characters. Notable standouts are Pipps' companion Arent, he's an exemplary creation, honourable Guard Captain Jacobi Drecht (Julian Rhind-Tutt narrating the audiobook was incredible for this character as well as many others), and the mistress Creesjie Jens. In my mind, some of the characters were difficult to distinguish between and blurred into each other for the early stages of The Devil and the Dark Water, so I recommend new readers pay attention to the manifest of notable passengers and crew at the start of the novel. After I was about twenty percent through, I had no further issues with regards to this.

The Devil and the Dark Water is a well-written and ingeniously composed dark historical thriller. The tale features grim and gruesome moments aplenty, with content that is definitely for adults and is occasionally uncomfortable to read. The mood of the story, the presentation and the quality showcased brought to mind and was reminiscent of Anthony Horowitz's brilliant The House of Silk. I'd rate The Devil and the Dark Water as a well-earned 4-stars as it didn't quite reach amazing. It wasn't unputdownable and it didn't mesmerise or enrapture me. That being said, it is a fine detective thriller that deserved to be a finalist in the Goodreads choice awards and I'll be following Turton's career going forwards. Recommended.
Profile Image for Emma.
974 reviews975 followers
September 8, 2020
The Devil and the Dark Water is a Sherlockian masterpiece, darkly atmospheric and twisty as hell.

The past was filled with sharp things, he’d said. He couldn’t reach for a memory without drawing blood doing it.

The world’s greatest detective, Samuel Pipps, is being transported back to Amsterdam from Batavia (Indonesia), kept imprisoned in the dank depths of the ship for crimes unknown. His bodyguard, Arent Hayes, is determined to prove him innocent… if he can find out what his friend was guilty of in the first place. But his inquiries are put on hold when the brutal death of a leper turns out to be the first in a series of mysterious and deadly happenings. With Pipps’ prodigious memory and unsurpassable detective skills out of action, the only recourse is for Hayes to step in and do what he can. These are no normal crimes, however, a devil may be loose in the world. Someone, or something, is playing for the highest stakes: the souls of everyone on board. Hayes, uncertain of his abilities and unsure who to trust, is running out time to figure it all out and save everyone from the most terrifying of fates.

For those, like me, who were more impressed with the ballsiness of the author for writing something like The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle as a first novel than than the actuality of the story, this book is well worth a go. Like his first novel, this showcases Turton’s talent for the unusual, the complex, and the downright daring. However, it has a much stronger foundation, a labyrinthine but well-defined plot that leans a bit more towards historical crime fiction than the supernatural (though it has a big dollop of that too). In fact, there were a few moments when I was genuinely perturbed. The suspense is cleverly managed, developed through a number of compelling characters, who themselves are part of an extraordinary cast of misfits. They’re all so incredibly memorable, deftly described and oh so flawed. When added to the roiling seas, the palpable sense of danger on the Saardam, and the intricacies of the relationships between the passengers, it’s literary dynamite. All the things you think you know, you don’t. And yes, to carry on that metaphor, the ending is explosive. It had me chuckling gleefully. I love being thoroughly bamboozled. Not only is it pure fun, it’s so much more satisfying than Turton’s first novel. I got to the end of that one and though ‘hmmm’, I got to the end of this one smiling like crazy and wishing it kept on for another few hundred pages or more.

If you’re looking for a good time, give this a go. Highly recommended.

ARC via Netgalley
Profile Image for Lauren Lanz.
682 reviews245 followers
December 5, 2020
⚔️ Full review posted! ⚔️

Instead of “we’re going to need a bigger boat”, this book is more “we’re going to need a less demon infested boat”. And let me tell you, I absolutely loved it.

“‘Somebody’s trying to sink this boat, and I swim like a bag of rocks. Any chance you can pull your head out of your arse and do something about it?’
Sammy grinned at him. ‘You could lead an army over a cliff with that tongue,’”

~★~ What is this book about? ~★~

In 1634, world renowned detective Sammy Pipps is set to board the Sardaam, a ship transporting nobles to Amsterdam--and him to his to execution. Sammy’s best friend and bodyguard Arent Hayes is determined to prove him innocent, but that becomes difficult considering neither man knows what Sammy is being accused of.
Once they set sail, unexplainable atrocities begin happening on board of the Sardaam. A dead man stalks the ship, haunted symbols draw themselves on the walls, and mysterious slaughters begin unfolding.
Soon enough, it becomes clear that only the Sardaam’s prisoner, Sammy Pipps, will give passengers a chance at seeing the end of this voyage.


I think it’s particularly on brand for me to feel betrayed by mystery/thriller novels, mainly because I’m too trusting and can never correctly guess the culprits. The Devil and the Dark Water was no exception; by the end, I was gaping at my own blindness.

“Courage isn’t an absence of fear, it’s the light we find when fear is all there is.”

The feminism in this book really stood out to me. Stuart Turton did a wonderful job empowering all the women in his story despite the hardships the time period meant for them. Integral characters like Sara, Creesjie, Lia and Isabel were really interesting to follow through their endeavors on the Sardaam

Turton’s writing was stunning. I quickly became transfixed with everything about this tale, and by the halfway point could hardly put the book down. I don’t read thrillers very often, so I’m not surprised that the mystery aspect impressed me so much. I’m always in awe of how authors plan such intricate plots, and was particularly fond of this one, especially the way things wrapped up. If you’re up for a good thriller, I’d really recommend The Devil and the Dark Water!
Profile Image for Joanna Chu (The ChuseyReader).
151 reviews196 followers
April 8, 2022
~ Quick Summary ~

Set in the 1600s on a ship travelling from Batavia to Amsterdam, where the greatest detective Samual Pipps is held prisoner and to be executed for an unknown crime and accompanying him is his bodyguard and friend Arent Hayes.

Throughout the journey, the ship is haunted by what seems to be a devil and it’s up to Arent to solve the mystery.

~ Pick this up if you enjoy/don’t mind the following ~

🕵️‍♂️ Think Sherlock Holmes on a ship

📜 Loosely a Historical Fiction (Stuart mentions at the end of the book that this is not a true historical fiction due to the more advanced technology and speech.)

🧑🏽‍🤝‍🧑🏽 Lots of characters and roles

🐢 Slow pace and detailed

~ What I Enjoyed ~

Very complex and unique case.

The twists and reveals were crazy and I didn’t see any of it coming!

The world building and atmosphere was next level, I definitely felt like I was transported to another world.

~ What I didn’t enjoy ~

I really wanted to love this, but for some reason I never fully engaged. It was slow, there was a lot of detail in every conversation and event and there were quite a number of characters/roles to keep track of so I lost focus a lot.

These comments can probably be applied to 7 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle as well, but I gave that a 5 star because I was invested from the start. Every character in that book was so different and each new POV brought new questions and discoveries. I was desperate to find out the truth, whereas this one took too long to reveal things. Even after the first mystery at the start with the leper I still wasn’t intrigued, so I never felt invested and didn’t care for the details or the characters, especially the ship crew and officers.

I raised a brow at the ending and how things were just accepted. I was most surprised about Arent and the decision he arrived at at the end, it gave me whiplash.
Profile Image for Carolyn.
2,171 reviews615 followers
April 29, 2021
It's 1634 and Governor General Jan Haan, his wife Sara Wessel and daughter Lia are about to board the Indiaman sailing vessel, Saardam for the eight month long voyage from Batavia to Amsterdam, packed with spices and other treasures to trade on behalf of the United East India Company. Jan has also brought his mistress Creeesjie Jens and her children with him, his chamberlain, a device known as 'the folly' and a large amount of mysterious cargo. He has also ordered the arrest of famous detective, Sammy Pipps, who will travel shackled in a cell following a serious allegation. As they reach the ship, a leper standing above them on a pile of crates issues a warning that all who board the ship will he ruined and never reach Amsterdam before he plunges to the ground with his robe on fire.

With such an opening, you know you're in for a wild ride on the high seas and Turton doesn't let us down. From that moment on the voyage is beset by one weird event after another. There is an eclectic cast of characters amongst the crew and passengers, including a captain with an expensive taste in clothes, a dwarf who is the first mate, a boatswain who rules his crew with a iron fist, the Chief Merchant in charge of the cargo, the Captain of the Guard, a minister of religion and a young woman who is his ward, as well as a shadowy noblewoman who never leaves her cabin. Sammy Pipps is accompanied by his loyal bodyguard and fellow investigative, Arent Hayes, who is determined that Sammy will survive the trip so that he can find out what he is charged with and clear his name in Amsterdam.

After the voyage begins, the dead leper is sighted around the ship, supernatural events occur and an unusual eerie symbol appears. Soon a rumour is circulating amongst the crew and passengers that a demon known as 'Old Tom' is on board the ship and a claustrophobic atmosphere of fear and mistrust develops. With Sammy locked in a cell, Arent must step up to investigate what is happening, aided by Sara, Creesjie and Sara's clever daughter Lia.

This is a marvellously wild tale of the supernatural and a voyage that was doomed from the start. There is a gradual build up of the tension as people become spooked and their fear reaches fever pitch until it spills over. Turton keeps his readers guessing about what it is 'Old Tom' wants and why he has targeted the Saardam and the clever ending won't disappoint. At times the book may seem a little slow, but by the end of the book you'll be able to look back and admire the careful plotting. A riveting and engrossing read that I very much enjoyed.
Profile Image for Aoife - Bookish_Babbling.
297 reviews310 followers
October 21, 2020
Who to trust when so many have secrets?

I have been super excited to read this since being completely bowled over by Turton's debut and it deff didn't disappoint but also didn't quite live up to the high bar reading experience that was Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. There was just something about the memory loss, "body-switching" Cluedo type feel of that first book that really knocked it out of the park for me 🤷‍♀️
Trying to put those puzzle pieces together was such a trip 👍

I love a period setting and being on a boat at sea in the 1600s staring down the barrel of many months of journeying with murderous characters on board made for a fun read heading into the spooky season 🙃

Kudos deffo go to the setting of this book, it almost had a Pirates of the Caribbean vibe to it...no, this is not a negative thing at all!
Although sometimes perplexed by the layout of the boat I was totally here for the setting, Sherlock detective duo feel and the massive cast of characters even if it took a while to get to know them & I definitely flip-flopped on whether I liked some of them at times. I do enjoy how Turton manages to do this with his characters both in this book and his debut.
Ultimately, however, the characters themselves were a more likeable lot than the morally questionable bunch we met alongside Evelyn Hardcastle 😈

Where this book didn't quite hit for me is in the ending. The reveals were fun although I had kind of half guessed one of them but couldn't quite see how it fit into the bigger picture 🤔 So that was a fun niggle at the back of my mind and an "I sort of knew it" moment when revealed. The overall religious slant & demonology didn't really float my boat if you'll pardon the awful #dadjoke 😅
I'm not often pulled in by philosophical musings/religious overtures and they typically tend to put me off more often than not - so that's a me vs the book issue 🤗

This was absolutely an addictive read and I am 100% tuning back into whatever else Turton chooses to share with us in the future.
August 27, 2021
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2 ½ stars

“That's the problem with summoning demons, you see. Sooner or later somebody else raises them against you.”

Readers who enjoyed Stuart Turton's previous novel will probably find The Devil and the Dark Water to be a far more captivating read than I did. While I personally was not enamoured by The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, I was willing to give Turton another try.
The first quarter of The Devil and the Dark Water had me intrigued. The narrative opens in Batavia (Jakarta) in 1634. Our protagonist, Arent Hayes, a former mercenary turner bodyguard, is accompanying his employer and friend, Samuel Pipps, on a voyage to Amsterdam. This trip is not for pleasure as Samuel, a famous detective, has been convicted of a 'mysterious' crime and is under arrest. Arent wants to prove his innocence, but not knowing the crime Samuel has been accused of obstructs his attempts to free him. Still, he's determined to protect him and decides to go alongside him to Amsterdam. As the passengers and crew embark this ship however, they are intercepted by a leper who perishes after pronouncing an ominous threat.
Before Samuel is taken to his cell in the ship, he tasks Arent with finding out more about the leper, believing that his threat was not empty one, and that someone means harm to the ship.
There are quite a few charcaters, but the 3rd person narrative tends to focus on Arent, the Governor General Jan Haan, and his wife, Sara Wessel. Sara, who happens to be very forward-thinking and in possession of some fine detective skills, joins Arent, and the two try to question the less-than-friendly crew and investigate the ship in order to find out whether something is truly haunting it.
Sinister occurrences seem to confirm our characters' fears: someone or something is set on stopping the ship from reaching its destination.

At first the story held my attention, and I did find the novel to be rather atmospheric. Turton has clearly done extensive research in the way ship's operated (from its hierarchy to the mentality of those willing to lead such a life) giving plenty of specific details relating to its various parts and or levels. Now, sadly, I can't say the same for the narrative's historical accuracy. The characters spoke in a very modern way, with the occasional 'mayhap' to give some authetniticity. While sometimes adding modern elements to historical films or books can work (such as with The Favourite), here it just took me out. Having Sara remind herself and be reminded by others, such as her maid, that she is a 'noble-woman' seemed odd. While I understand that Turton did so because he wanted to explain to his readers that because of her class Sara could and couldn't do certain things (or should be addressed in a certain way by those belonging to a lower class) or , but surely he knows that his audience would be already aware of this? The interactions between the characters also struck me as modern, and it seemed weird that every woman on the ship was so ahead of her times (Sara's daughter is a genius). Arent struck me as the typical 'giant' with a heart of gold, who may have done some bad things in his past, but has now turned a new leaf. Samuel plays a very minor role, and while it made sense given his imprisonment, as things escalate on the ship, I would have expected for Arent to seek his counsel more often.
The middle of his novel drags. Arent and Sara investigate by asking the same boring questions to the same people, they explore the ship some more, and that's kind of that. The Governor, who is compared to a hawk and happens to have very sharp nails, acts like a Bad Guy, which is not a spoiler since within a few lines of being introduced to him we know that he beats his wife.
Arent and Sara were similarly 'good'. Unlike most other people on the boat they do not approve of the
United East Indian Company. Given their respective backgrounds their humanitarian awareness seemed a tad odd.
Also, the whole romantic subplot....puh-lease.
There were quite a few moments that were meant to 'unnerve' the reader but I personally found them comical.
When characters made a certain discovery or realised something (“It can't be…” he said out loud, as the answers arrived in a dizzying rush. “It can't be...”) we had these 'cliff-hangers' as the narrative would jump to another character and by the time we returned to that other character I no longer cared to learn of their discovery. The writing in general wasn't to my taste : “she had so much life, it was bursting through the seams of her” / “he was coming apart at the seams” / “her daughter's [eyes] glittered with life. Her husband's were empty, like two dark holes his soul had long run out”.
Toward the ending things take a chaotic turn. There are a few twists, most of which I'd predicted (not bragging, I have merely read enough mystery novels to know how certain stories will unfold). The novel's main twist was painfully clichéd and made very little sense (it was obsolete).
Long, boring, unconvincing, and with a vague 'historicalness' that is miles away from the likes of Sarah Dunant or Eleanor Catton.

Read more reviews on my blog / / / View all my reviews on Goodreads
Profile Image for NZLisaM.
414 reviews378 followers
October 12, 2020
‘Whether this is a devil dressed as a man, or a man dressed as a devil, our course of action remains the same.’

If you're a fan of any, or all, of these authors and books – Ken Follet, Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes, The Shining, or Lord of the Flies, then The Devil and the Dark Water is going to be a sure-fire winner for you. Even if you're not, there is still plenty to enjoy.

The year is 1634. When passengers set sail on the Saardam (one in a fleet of seven Indiaman ships) at Batavia, for an eight-month journey to Amsterdam, they anticipated boredom, misery, and the potential hazards of pirates, storms, fire, shipwreck, disease, or accident. What they didn't expect was a manifestation of a dead leper haunting the decks and cargo hold. A whispering voice echoing through the night – taunting and tormenting, offering rewards and riches in return for servitude. An ominous eighth lantern out at sea that shouldn’t be there. And the prediction of three unholy miracles, each worse than the last – two of which have already come to pass.

All I can say is WOW! The Devil and the Dark Water was equally as original, clever, puzzling, and enthralling as Stuart Turton's debut, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. Strap yourself in for a wild voyage of epic proportions. TDATDW fits multiple genres – historical, horror, gothic-horror, crime, mystery, suspense, thriller, action, adventure, drama, and romance. It’s a slow burn, but pay attention and read carefully, as it's always the small details that count, otherwise you may be confused by the end reveal. To give you some context, the first 35% only covers the first day of the voyage, beginning with the passengers arriving, boarding, and then setting sail. I feel this gradual build approach was necessary due to the extension cast of characters introduced, as well as to get your head around the layout, hierarchy of the crew and passengers, and the operation, routine, and conduct aboard the Saardam – all things pertinent to the plot. Included at the front is a ‘Manifest of Notable Crew and Passengers’ which I kept flipping back to until I had all the players straight.

The prevalent question continuously plaguing me throughout was whether or not the threat was supernatural? Was someone actually possessed or controlled by a Devil entity to do its bidding, or was the answer trickery perpetrated by a cunning mastermind/s? And, I was constantly torn one way or the other, my every theory (and admittedly all my ideas were weak) soon shot down by the author. The growing hysteria and paranoia of the people on board increased the tension, claustrophobia and desperateness of the situation and had me anxious for the characters that were my favourites. Superstitious beliefs were commonplace in the 17th century, and crew and sailors on board the Saardam used charms, prayers, and rituals as a protective barrier to ward off the Devil and disaster. Fights, resentments, rivalries, riots, and insubordination went hand-in-hand with such closed quarters, and when exacerbated by a satanic presence inciting discord, rage, hatred, fear, and terror, mutiny and murder were but a stone’s throw away.

The Devil and the Dark Water definitely makes my top three favourite reads of 2020. In his Author’s Note Stuart Turton has promised another book in the next two years, and I'm going to hold him to that! With Halloween approaching, this would be the perfect time to read this.
Profile Image for Miriam Smith (A Mother’s Musings).
1,521 reviews156 followers
September 6, 2020
As a reader of naval historical fiction (e.g. David Donachie), I got very excited by the premise of best selling author Stuart Turton’s latest publication, “The Devil and the Dark Water”.
Set in the 1600’s in Batavia (present day Jakarta, Indonesia) we are taken on a voyage on the merchant ship ‘Saardam’ an Indiaman laden with spices, under the charter of the East India Company across the high seas. Together with some fantastic naval scenes, intrigue, suspense and a hint of the supernatural, the three weeks the story is set at sea was atmospheric, thrilling and at times scarily entertaining.
The author’s writing is so expressive and stirring from the very start there’s no escaping the reader being transported to the port at Batavia, where the sights, sounds and smells encourage you to feel you’re actually standing watching the opening chapters, with a leper appearing to pronounce the devil.
For an author to be able to engage the reader into the depths of the story to the degree I did, I felt this a genuine skill not many writers can accomplish. Intricately detailed in a casual and entertaining way, this ensured you knew exactly how the scene was playing out and many a time I could sense the salt air and the grimy smell of the unwashed sailors. Not a pleasant sensory but a very necessary one, considering most toilet routines were carried out at the end of the ship and sailors often washed their clothes in their own urine.
The characters were all superbly portrayed and in my mind I couldn’t decide if Samuel Pipps was a vision of Benedict Cumberbatch as a Sherlock Holmes persona or Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow - maybe both, so even better! I really enjoyed the relationship Sammy had with Arent, they worked so well together as a detective duo and a partnership that deserves being delved into further.
My favourite word in the story was ‘daemonologica’ ( a taxonomy of devils), a book I’d love to have though I very much doubt one exists!
There was without doubt some pulse pounding moments and the cold shiver of fear ran down my spine on more than one occasion. “The Devil and the Dark Water” reminded me why I love reading historical fiction and it’s a book I will return to again and again to read, it was that good. A complex plot filled with trepidation, excellently thought out and executed, which was fully explained and recounted towards the end. This enabled any questions you may have had to be completely answered and with an opening for a possible second in the series, I’m hoping there’ll be more from Sammy, Arent and company.
The author intimated that when you finish reading his story, you’d look up and be ever grateful you’re back at home, safe and sound and no longer at sea and never were there truer words. My sea legs were totally gone and I’m very happy now to be sitting in a chair, on land, writing this!
A five star read (which I would award more to if I could) that kept me enraptured and entertained from start to finish! Would I recommend? Aye,aye captain I would!

5 stars
Profile Image for Dem.
1,186 reviews1,098 followers
November 1, 2020
3.5 Stars
An enjoyable and atmospheric historical fiction mystery, which the author himself describes as more fiction than historical. It’s certainly different and while I enjoyed it I found it quite a long slow burner and struggled to keep track of all the characters hence my 3.5 star rating.

This is my first novel by Stuart Turton and he certainly crafts and unique and suspenseful tale.

Set in 1634 Samuel Pippa the worlds greatest detective, is being transported from the Dutch East Indies to Amsterdam, where he is facing trial and execution fro a crime he may or may not have committed. Traveling with him is his loyal bodyguard. Aren’t Hayes, who is determined to proves his friend innocent. Also on board are Sara Wessel a noblewoman with a secret and her husband the Governor General of Batavia.

Thankfully the author included a brilliant detailed drawing of the ship and all the cabins, compartments and decks and also a Manifest of notable passengers and crew sailing aboard the Saddam. This was so helpful for the reading of a book like this and without it I personally would have been lost with so many characters to keep track of. I found myself and several occasions having to revert back to the manifest until I got used to all the characters.

I enjoyed the story and the atmosphere created and it was perfect reading for this time of year. I did find the book dragged a bit for me and I really think this story could have benefited with being shortened as it was very long and drawn out. I especially loved the Author’s note at the end although I do think he should have placed it at the beginning.
An apology to history and boats “ This is historical fiction where the history is the fiction”

While I enjoyed the read it’s not one for my favorites shelf although I will be adding my hard copy to my real life bookshelf.
Profile Image for Sara the Librarian.
746 reviews323 followers
July 7, 2020

Seriously that's kind of the best way to describe how I feel about this book. Its a very, very, very long kinda okay historical "thriller" with so very many characters and despite its taking place in the 1600's said characters frequently ask each other "are you okay" and all the women are very ahead of their time (one of my "favorite" things in historical fiction) and we've got the typical giant manly man who's a hardened mercenary but really gentle and kind and lots of people who believe in witchcraft and husbands beating their wives and a million and one reasons for me to never, ever set foot on a boat should time travel become a thing that allows me to travel to afor mentioned 1600's and everything is very dirty and disgusting and so there are pomanders which I very much think we should bring back particularly in the current climate and no one is who they seem and even if it looks like witchcraft clearly there's a logical explanation and DEAR GOD THIS BOOK WAS SOOOOO LONG.
Profile Image for Joan.
296 reviews45 followers
December 12, 2020
are u joking....

I LOVED The 7 1/2 deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. It was suspenseful, exciting, it had lots of mystery and an interesting cast of characters. This book had those same elements and so for the first part, I was really enjoying it. Then it starts to drag but I'm not minding it because I'm hoping the payoff will be good. But that ending??? that ENDING??? what the fuck was that???? That felt like an episode of scooby doo. This book had so much potential and it all fizzled out because it tried too hard to explain everything away. Evelyn Hardcastle had a similar problem where the final twist made no sense but this was so much worse, my god. This is why I hate reading long books because this was 400+ pages and it felt like a waste of time. bye
Profile Image for ScrappyMags.
597 reviews244 followers
October 4, 2020
You had me at “demon.”

Shortest Summary Ever: 1634. A Dutch sailing vessel where investigator Samuel Pipps is being held for a mysterious crime. His friend and “Watson” Arent Hayes is right by his side trying to determine first - how to free Sammy and then second - solve a mystery of demons and witch lore haunting the ship. Omens abound. Secrets in the passageways... and one by one the body count increases...

Thoughts: I’m a wee bit into the 1600s. The age of colonization and the effect on the world. A time of grand ocean journeys. Oh - and witchcraft. Yeah it’s really about the witchcraft (she’s a witch!!! She’s a witch Burn her!! - Monty Python). This book did something that doesn’t happen often - it surprised me. I’m not a spoiler maker but I only saw PART of the end coming... the rest was a blindside. (Score!)

I was absolutely riveted by the first 3/4 of the book. So many vendettas and scores to settle, the reader peels the layers of the mystery one by one. The last 1/4 seemed a bit smooshed. Jumbled. Like so many finale ideas thrown together, but it was still agreeable and aptly written and made me do some double takes. Very entertaining, fast read.

All my reviews available at scrappymags.com around time of publication.

Genre: Historical Fiction Mystery

Recommend to: 7 out of 10 on the gore side - not terrible but not cozy.

Not recommended to: If you’re not into a pretty convoluted twisty and turny ending.

Thank you to the author, NetGalley and Sourcebooks Landmark for my advanced copy in exchange for my always-honest review.

Profile Image for Books with Brittany.
645 reviews3,165 followers
April 4, 2021
While I do have some mixed feelings about the reveal and conclusion, what an overall great reading experience
Profile Image for Ginger.
753 reviews371 followers
November 28, 2020
4.5 to 5 stars!

The Devil and the Dark Water is another complex and crafty book by Stuart Turton.

I rather enjoyed this one very much!
I do love mysteries, historical fiction and old witchcraft/demon related themes. This hit all of those themes and more!

Not only is the book set in 1634, but it's set on a boat and nefarious antics are in play. Argh matey!

The Devil and the Dark Water has lots of characters and a complicated blue print of the boat at the beginning of the book (hint, hint).
And yes, there are tons of mysteries to unwind.

I would suggest going into this book with patience and taking the time to get all the details down.
I read this book slow and I do believe it helped with getting all the characters and their backgrounds down, along with the complexities of the plot.
The less you know about this plot and book, the better!

Definitely recommend this one if you love to be outwitted and can't guess who the mastermind is behind a mystery.
Stuart Turton fooled me once again because I did not figure out who the leper was, along with who's being posssessed by Old Tom.
I also really loved how the ending of the book turned out!

I'm really enjoying Turton's books and characters. I hope he has more books and complex plots in his arsenal!
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