Wednesday, 25 April 2018

The Worst Journey in the World by John R McKay

Reviewer : Gillian Hamer, author of The Charter, Closure, Complicit, Crimson Shore, False Lights & Sacred Lake. (

What we thought: I was keen to read this novel when it became available for a Bookmuse review as I am a big fan of this writer and enjoyed his earlier novel 'The Absolution Of Otto Finkel'. And I have to say I was as captivated by this latest offering.

George Martin is an inexperienced 19-year-old Navy recruit who finds himself part of the mission to protect supply boats trading with Russia during World War II across some of the most inhospitable oceans in the world. We get to know George before he signs up, and meet his friends and family in his home town of Liverpool. We see how he acclimatises to life in the Navy on his first posting to Malta, and how he develops and matures as Navy life becomes more gruelling. When George’s frigate is hit and he’s forced to abandon ship, the reader is taken through his lowest period when injuries and the cruel conditions threaten to end his life.

Although this is a work of fiction, it has roots in the stories of wartime sea journeys to and from Russia, and the untold of stories of the normal men who were left to survive in some of the worst conditions imaginable. The story is cleverly told from George’s POV and although the attention to detail has obviously taken many months of research, the reader never feels bogged down with information and the story progresses at a balanced pace. Characterisation is superbly handed and the dialogue of the period feels completely natural.

I soon found myself engrossed in George’s life and eager to turn each page to see when the story would take us, especially in some of the most tense episodes. Another excellent book from this talented writer and I very much look forward to reading more books from him in the future.

You’ll enjoy this if you like : Alexander Fullerton, Wilbur Smith, Andrew Turpin.

Avoid if you don’t like : Wartime stories and cold weather.

Ideal accompaniments: Powdered egg and a mug of Bovril.

Genre : Historical

Available on Amazon

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