Book Review: The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 448 pages

Published: October 1, 2020 (UK), October 6, 2020 (US)

Publisher: Raven Books (UK), Sourcebooks Landmark (US)

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Historical Fiction


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.

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

Could a demon be responsible for their misfortunes?

The chilling mystery that everyone will be talking about…

Samuel Pipps, the 17th-century version of Sherlock Holmes is being transported to Amsterdam to be executed for a crime he may or may not have committed. Arent Hayes, a loyal bodyguard and friend, accompanies him on this journey, determined to prove his closest friend’s innocence. But as soon as their ship sails the massive sea, strange occurrences start happening on the journey: a leper, who suppose to be dead, starts appearing on the ship, livestock slaughtered, strange symbols start appearing out of nowhere.

And three passengers are marked for death, including Samuel. 

With Samuel imprisoned in the cargo hold, Arent is the only person who can discover the real truth. But with sinister occurrences keep popping up, could a demon be responsible? And if so, are the passengers are on a journey that will lead them to their doom?

Some people believe that an author’s second book is never as good as their first. Stuart Turon has proven that adage wrong with his latest novel. Mystery and historical fiction lovers alike will not only be entertained but enthralled with this story and forget about the world around them, something that is great for now.

Let’s start with the mystery element. I was completely floored by the outcome. Did I figure it out by the time I reached the end? Yes…and no. The complexity and how well thought out this mystery was is what I look for when I read a thriller. Don’t worry, you are not going to hear any spoilers, but you should be intrigued. Believe me when I say this mystery will have you guessing at every turned page, making you so absorbed in the story, very useful especially when you are entering 1634 Amsterdam!

The relationship between Arent and Samuel is another aspect that will be of interest to mystery fans. Their relationship is reminiscent of the other great detective duo, Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson. Arent and Samuel’s personalities are a lot like their counterparts. I am unsure if this was Turton’s intention but you can’t help but not notice the similarities. Readers, however, can make their assumptions and it gives them a chance to be more engaged with the story, especially when they encounter characters so similar to ones they deeply love.

Speaking of amazing characters, Sara will be everyone’s favorite. She certainly was a favorite of mine!. Her tenacity and feisty personality will be a joy for readers to encounter. In an interview, Turton mentioned that Sara was his favorite character to create and write about and through her actions and development across the entire work, you could clearly see why. Her personable and passionate attitude will have readers rooting for her, particularly when they uncover the pains and struggles she goes through. If Turton decides to center a story around her it would definitely not disappoint!

This is just not another mystery. It is also a story based on the depiction of the morality of people, how sometimes the past has a funny way of coming back to the haunt them. Such an interesting way to input such an important lesson. Again, unsure if this was Turton’s intention but I just found it so interesting that this amazing story found a way to dictate a lesson at the end of the tale, a similar outcome which was achieved in his previous novel, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. Don’t be afraid that being preached to takes away from the story. In fact, it actually gives the story more realistic ability, although it takes place in the past. I know that I will appreciate it a bit more and remember it because of that lesson.

Great writing, memorable characters, amazing story with a twist ending that will leave you gasping, The Devil and the Dark Water is the thumping good mystery that you will be selling your soul to get your hands on. Enter the dark abyss and see why this chilling mystery will be the fall release that everyone will be talking about. 

Thank you NetGalley and Sourcebooks for giving an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Published by karma2015

I was born and raised in New York. I still live in New York but kind of sick of the city and one day I wish to move to the UK.I have a Masters degree in Library Science and I currently work in a special collections library. I loved books ever since I was a little girl. Through the hard times in my life, my love for books has always gotten me through. Just entering another world different from my own intrigues me. As long as I am entering in another universe, I like to create my own as well. I love to write and hopefully I will be able to complete a novel.

7 thoughts on “Book Review: The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

  1. I really enjoyed Stuart’s first novel. I thought it was so intricate and I had no idea what was going to happen. I was so excited to see that he had a new book coming out. I do hope to get to this by the end of the month.

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