Wednesday, March 23, 2022

All the White Spaces

All the White Spaces by Ally Wilkes
3/29/22; 368 pages
Atria/Emily Bestler Book

All the White Spaces by Ally Wilkes is a so-so exploration, horror, and coming of age novel.

Jo lost her two brother in the great war so she transitions to Jonathan Morgan and with the help of her friend Harry stows away on an expeditionary ship of the world-famous explorer James “Australis” Randall on his trip to Antarctica. There is tension and trials aboard the ship, clearly evident during Jonathan's efforts to prove his worth. When the ship is burned, the men must set out into unexplored and inhospitable land. If that isn't enough, it also seems that something or someone is threatening the safety of the group.

Wilkes knows a lot about ships and the events that would occur on a long voyage in a cold, hostile environment. The whole crew is haunted by something in their past. This helps in the creation of the frigid atmosphere and the disorientation and mental deterioration of the group as supplies run low.  The tension increases as the plot unfolds. This is a slow moving novel and actually not that frightening. There are a lot of characters, but a list is provided at the opening of the novel to help you keep track of them. The writing style didn't encourage a connection with any character.

Sorry, but this is not comparable to The Terror. I like my historical fiction to keep true to the actual historical times rather than take current sensibilities and place them in the past. Having Jo become Jonathan adds nothing to the plot but does appeal to current sentiments. The actual technicalities of being a biological woman among men is not addressed nor is any disguise or adaptation, besides having short hair. I forced myself to finish this one, but probably should have skipped it. The synopsis didn't actually describe the novel well.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of the publisher/author.

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