By Ekta R. Garg
December 2, 2020
Genre: Historical fiction
Release date: December 1, 2020
Rated: Bookmark it! / 4 stars
A female explorer eager to put terrible events behind her jumps at the chance for a new trek. What starts as an adventure fueled by ambition turns into a harrowing series of events. Author Greer Macallister keeps readers guessing until the end in her latest book The Arctic Fury.
It’s 1853, and Virginia Reeve needs a fresh start. Up until now, she’d made her career leading parties to the California territory over well-worn trails. A tragedy forces her to turn away from that life, but the desire for exploration and grand adventures hasn’t quite left her yet. When she receives a request to meet with a wealthy woman and wife to a famous explorer, Virginia feels compelled to accept.
Virginia goes to Boston to meet British noblewoman Lady Jane Franklin who lays out the terms. Lady Franklin’s husband, John, disappeared during an expedition into the Arctic, and all efforts to find him have yielded nothing. Fed up with the lack of results, Lady Franklin has decided on a wild course of action: hire a team of explorers made up solely of women. She’s sick of men waiting for men to solve the problem, she says. It’s time for the women to step in and make things right.
The offer, and the money to go with it, are both tempting, but even Virginia understands the uphill battle it will be to lead a women-centric group in a man’s world. Still, the allure of leaving the known world behind is overwhelming. She accepts Lady Franklin’s terms, including dictating who some of the women trekkers will be, and puts together her team. Within weeks they’re off.
Less than a year later, Virginia has returned home. Some of the women have come back with her; others have not. An experienced guide, Virginia knows how to motivate a group of people to keep moving, yet even she couldn’t anticipate the outcome of the expedition. When she returns, she’s put on trial for the murder of one of the women traveling with her. In addition to fearing for her own life, Virginia is afraid that the truth about her past will finally come to light. If it does, she knows there won’t be any returning from it.
Author Greer Macallister builds a compelling narrative to stay with the book to find out both about the outcome of the trial and the motivation behind it. Alternating chapters between the expedition and Virginia’s trial, Macallister teases out the tension. Her research into real-life explorer John Franklin blends with fiction in a masterful manner.
One of the drawbacks of the book comes in the number of women on the expedition. Including Virginia, 13 women make the trek to the Arctic. Macallister makes clear from the outset who the most important players will be to the plot, which is a shame because the others seemed just as interesting. No doubt, readers will understand by the end why so many women were needed in the group. As the plot unfurls, Macallister does her level best to help readers keep the characters straight and she lets Virginia lead in every way possible. I recommend readers Bookmark The Arctic Fury.