Skip to content

Stranded by Bracken MacLeod #BookReview

In the spirit of John Carpenter’s The Thing and Jacob’s Ladder comes a terrifying, icebound thriller where nothing is quite what it seems.

Badly battered by an apocalyptic storm, the crew of the Arctic Promise finds themselves in increasingly dire circumstances as they sail blindly into unfamiliar waters. Without functioning navigation or communication equipment, they are lost and completely alone. Deckhand Noah Cabot is the only person unaffected by the strange force plaguing the ship and her crew.

Dismissing Noah’s warnings of worsening conditions, the captain of the ship presses on. When the men are ordered overboard in an attempt to break the ship free by hand, the fog clears. Noah leads the last of the able-bodied crew on a journey across the ice and into an uncertain future where they must fight for their lives against the elements, the ghosts of the past and, ultimately, themselves.

The cover for Stranded is done in yellows and blue-greys. The sky is a smogged-up yellow while the land that we can see is foggy and dreary. The author's name features more prominently at the bottom than the title does at the top.

Title: Stranded Author: Bracken MacLeod | Publisher: Tor Books | Pub. Date: 2016-4-10 | Pages: 304 | ISBN: 0765382431 | Genre: Horror/Thriller | Language: English | Triggers:  None | Rating:  5 out 5 | Source: Self-purchased

Page break indicator for Sci-Fi & Scary

Stranded Review

“The void churned and welled, reaching up to pull them down into the frigid darkness, clamoring to embrace them, every one. A cold womb inviting them to return to the lightless source of all life, and die, each man alone in its black silence.”

-Bracken MacLeod, Stranded

Ah, winter reads.  This was the first year I challenged myself to pick some December reads that reflected the season.  I wanted horror, ice, monsters, and gore. So I picked about 13 to read, some more “winter-y” than others, and I got started.  

As the weeks flew by this month, I had only three books left on my original TBR (to be read) pile. Stranded was one of them. I put aside Dan Simmons’ The Terror earlier this year (I’ll get back to it eventually) and I was a little apprehensive about another ship stuck in ice.  I needn’t have worried. I began this on Christmas Eve and it killed me to put it down so I could wrap presents.  MacLeod’s writing snapped me up – just look at the first two sentences of the novel written above – and did NOT let me go.

MacLeod’s world building is spot on. The tension is palpable as things go from bad to worse to WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING. There are twists and developments that I had no way of anticipating. That is important to me. Part of this comes from the massive amounts of scholarship he must’ve employed to make sure the ship and its inner workings were believable and as accurate as possible. This was such a real world to me; I was very glad for my warm and cozy reading spot to offset what was happening on the pages.

The rest, I think, comes from the characters themselves.  MacLeod can write beautiful, poetic prose like the lines above. But men on fishing trawlers don’t tend to speak in lines of iambic pentameter. MacLeod, instead, is versatile enough to make the dialogue and the characters believable and authentic. This is a dark, gritty novel and the men in this novel reflect it well.

I will be actively seeking out the rest of Bracken MacLeod’s work. A wonderful blend of story, characters, heart, and terror, Stranded is one of my top reads this month.

This book is available at BetterWorldBooks | Kobo | Amazon |B&N

Published in5 RatedHorror Book ReviewsThriller Book Reviews


  1. Oh yes. This is going in my Amazon cart..I love stories set in difficult climates and this sounds thrilling! Just finished two thrillers set in Antarctica and looking for something similar. Thanks for sharing this one.

  2. I like books set on ships and this one sounds good. Thanks, Tracy!

Comments are closed.

©Sci-Fi & Scary 2019
%d bloggers like this: