The Arctic Fury: A Historical Novel of Fierce Women Explorers

by Greer Macallister

Paperback, 2020




Sourcebooks Landmark (2020), 432 pages


Fiction. Literature. Mystery. Historical Fiction. HTML: A dozen women join a secret 1850s Arctic expeditionâ??and a sensational murder trial unfolds when some of them don't come back. Eccentric Lady Jane Franklin makes an outlandish offer to adventurer Virginia Reeve: take a dozen women, trek into the Arctic, and find her husband's lost expedition. Four parties have failed to find him, and Lady Franklin wants a radical new approach: put the women in charge. A year later, Virginia stands trial for murder. Survivors of the expedition willing to publicly support her sit in the front row. There are only five. What happened out there on the ice? Set against the unforgiving backgdrop of one of the world's most inhospitable locations, USA Today bestsellng author Greer Macallister uses the true story of Lady Jane Franklin's tireless attempts to find her husband's lost expedition as a jumping-off point to spin a tale of bravely, intrigue, perseverance and hope.… (more)


½ (65 ratings; 3.9)

User reviews

LibraryThing member TheGalaxyGirl
I literally have no idea how to rate this book. The prose was beautiful. The premise, fascinating. The execution...not so much.

I really wanted to like this book. I love accounts of arctic/antarctic exploration, fictional or not. The idea of an all-woman arctic expedition sounded super interesting
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to me. Looking for the lost Franklin expedition, bonus. Plus, I like the time period. Victorians, old West, it's all good. But I kept tripping over things that didn't make sense.

(view spoiler)

I really wanted more arctic adventure and less courtroom non-drama. I wanted description of the landscape. And I wanted a better protagonist. And I wanted better characters. I wanted the story to live up to the premise, and it never did.

So why did I keep reading, with so many problems? I don't really know. I guess I just wanted to see if it got better. The prose was, in fact, beautiful in places. And it was very readable, despite the issues. Which is why it gets a 3 from me and not something lower.
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LibraryThing member Beamis12
Love novels set in cold places and consider the Arctic one of the last pure places on our planet. A novel and imaginative plot, blending history with a trial and the strength of women.

Jane Franklin hires Virginia, a young woman who has worked as a guide, bringing over 400 people safely to the West.
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It is the 1850s and women are seldom admired for their strength. Franklin wants to hire Virginia to lead a team of women to the Arctic to search for John Franklin, his men and two ships. She accepts the challenge and what follows are events that will forever change her life, as well as the other women in her party.

The novel goes from one location, to another. We get a good look at life aboard the ship, of conditions and the struggles the women face in the Arctic. Deaths, heartbreak and friendships that will endure.These women are formidable and I enjoyed getting to know them. What happens in this cold climate will have severe repurcussions for Virginia. Also a hidden secret of hers, which I thought quite clever of the author, will be revealed.

Quite entertaining and definitely immersive. Read it right through and avidly at that.

ARC from Edelweiss.
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LibraryThing member CaitZ
Twelve women are sent on an Arctic journey to search for a lost male expedition. Their journey slowly unfolds through the course of the trial of their leader. The alternating chapters kept the tension high and me reading past my bedtime. I don’t want to reveal too much because I believe it is
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best read without previous knowledge. If you enjoy historical fiction with strong female characters you should read this excellent novel.

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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LibraryThing member fredreeca
Lady Jane Franklin hires Virginia Reeve to take 12 women on a trek to the Arctic to find her husband. This expedition ends tragically. Virginia also ends up on trial for murder. One of the women on the trip dies and her family needs to blame someone! However, there is a lot of double dealing,
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secrecy and lies.

This book is told in various time periods, settings and various points of view. This bothers many readers. However, the author handled this excellently and I had no trouble keeping up.

Now, there are several parts I enjoyed more than others. I loved the courtroom scenes. That is where the true mystery lies. This section is intriguing and unique.

The part about the expedition is just ok. This is why I gave the book a 4 instead of a 5 star. The expedition should have been the most exciting. But I just did not enjoy this part as much as I expected.

All that being said…this is a unique read about strong women overcoming many facets of life! Grab your copy today! You will be glad you did!

I received this novel from the publisher for a honest review.
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LibraryThing member Veronica.Sparrow
I have always been fascinated by the mystery of the Franklin expedition and also by true stories of pioneering feminists. Women who refused to live by society's expectations and paved their own paths. The Arctic Fury blends both of these intriguing subjects together in a compelling story of
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adventure, mystery, betrayal and heartbreak.
Virgina Reeve is offered the chance to do the unthinkable: lead a group of 12 women to the Arctic in a search for the lost Franklin expedition. The chapters alternate between Virginia Reeve's trial where she is accused of murder and the past recollection of various characters detailing the quest to find out what happened to the Franklin expedition.
The chapters flow very smoothly and piece together details of the journey and what each woman thought and felt. It led to very good character development and an understanding of why the women acted in the manner they did.
The novel was thought provoking and very touching. One thing that surprised me is how the author was able to take a character who was unlikable to one who became the opposite.
This is the first novel I have read by Greer Macallister but it will not be the last.
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LibraryThing member CathyGeha
The Arctic Fury by Greer MacAllister

Exceptional story telling that drew me in and kept me invested from beginning to end. I could not put it down!

What I liked:
* The seamless moves between the expedition and trial
* That I felt I was with the characters on their journey
* The plot and quality of
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* That I could “see” the characters and felt I knew them
* The way revelations were made
* The exceptional women and the talents they brought to the expedition
* The intrigue, infighting, contest of wills, and eventual bonding that occurred between most of the women
* The strength and fortitude of the women
* That there was a hint of romance for one or more of the women
* That there were elements of hope even when things were grim
* That I had more than one person to thoroughly dislike
* The conclusion
* Everything really except…

What I didn’t like:
* The underhanded people with hidden objectives and what they were willing to do to achieve their goals
* The loss of life – though it was expected from the beginning that not all would survive the expedition
* Having to say goodbye when the book ended

Did I enjoy this book? Yes
Would I read more by this author? Definitely

Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks-Landmark for the ARC – This is my honest review.

5 Stars
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LibraryThing member vernefan
Greer MacAllister does it again with another top-notch historical suspense novel that has her at the top of this reader's list of favorite authors. What most attracts me to her books is that her story lines are so diverse in topic and never predictable.

Arctic Fury is a bone- chilling thriller
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involving a team of all female explorers hired by Lady Jane Franklin to set out to make a final attempt at finding her lost husband and his crews from the two ships Erebus and Terror. Where others have tried and failed, Sir John Franklin's wife puts all her remaining hope and faith in this band of unusual women to bring her husband home.

13 women board a ship heading for the Arctic North, each with their own strengths and skills, flaws and weaknesses, never knowing what to expect once they set foot on the frozen wastelands of ice and desolation. Personalities clash, secrets emerge, tragedies strike, and upon return, a Boston murder trial tries to see one of them hang.

Totally engrossing, Arctic Fury had me flipping the pages well into the wee hours of the morning. 5 stars, give it a try!
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LibraryThing member lynneajmch
In the front row sit the survivors." This evocative first line sets the stage for a chilling tale, in more ways than one. In 1854, Virginia Reeve stands trial for the murder of the young, rich, and spoiled Caprice Collins, just one of the women who failed to return from their quest to discover the
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fate of Sir John Franklin and his lost ships. Frustrated by many unsuccessful previous searches by men, Lady Franklin makes a final attempt to discover what happened to her husband and his crews when they explored the Canadian Arctic in search of a Northwest Passage. A proven adventurer herself, she understands that women are far more capable than mid-19th century thinking assumes and anonymously funds a group of women in the hope they will succeed where men have failed. Lady Franklin appears to choose Virginia for her experience in leading wagon trains westward, though Virginia has her own reasons for wanting to leave that life behind.

Macallister keeps us on a tense edge in the courtroom and in the frozen North, alternating the story between the trial and the women's expedition. With an apparently incompetent defense attorney and inattentive judge, it is doubtful that the support of the survivors will be enough to counter Caprice's parents' moneyed influence. On the expedition, it becomes increasingly doubtful that all 13 women will survive as danger comes not only from the weather, but from crewmen who have little regard for women on their ship.

Yet each character has particular skills and abilities that keep us hopeful, many of whom were inspired by real woman of the time period. Masterful storytelling is revealed as each woman has at least one chapter written from her point of view, where something is revealed that we wouldn't otherwise know. Their reasons for attempting the adventure are as varied as their places in society, yet they share the common thread of flouting those restrictive expectations. Intertwined in all of this is Virginia's self-imposed guilt at her failures as a leader and the specter of The Very Bad Thing which haunts her conscience.

This is a great bookclub pick for discussion of this fascinating exploration of these adventurous and complex women.
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LibraryThing member Cariola
The disappearance of two ships carrying explorer Sir John Franklin to the Arctic in the early 1850's is historical fact. One of my favorite novels, Richard Flanagan is 'Wanting,' tells two stories in which Franklin is a central figure: his years as governor of Tasmania, and the production of
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Charles Dickens's only play, which imagines the fate of Franklin's Arctic journey. The play was financed by Franklin's wife in hopes of pushing the government to fund another rescue mission (or at least find the remains of her husband and his crew). Macallister's novel imagines Lady Franklin funding another such expedition: a crew consisting of 13 American women. The motley crew has Ben chosen mostly by Lady Franklin and her agent Brooks. Virginia Reeve, a young woman who has led several groups of settlers to the West, is competent and resourceful but haunted by the death of her partner and by something she refers to as the Very Bad Thing. Her crew includes some invaluable members: a map maker's daughter, an Eskimo woman, a nurse, a dog team leader. But it also includes women whose qualifications for this dangerous journey are questionable: a journalist, an illustrator, the wives of two of Sir John Franklin's party, a lady's maid. One, Caprice Collins, daughter of a wealthy Boston family whose hobby is mountain climbing, becomes Virginia's main adversary during the journey northwards. As the novel opens, we find Virginia on trial for Caprices murder. But was it murder or, as Virginia maintains, a tragic accident?

Macallister chooses to tell most of her story with Virginia as narrator, shifting between the presnt day (courtroom and jail) and the progress of the women's expedition, but each member of her team is given at least one chapter of her own. This helps the reader to better understand them and their reasons for signing on for the treacherous journey. As we learn details about the journey, we also learn more about what exactly is going on in the courtroom. But if one theme dominates 'Arctic Fury,' it is the bonds formed among the female crew in the midst of a dangerous situation in which their survival depends not only upon expertise but on trust and unity.

Overall, I quite enjoyed the book. At several points, the plot got bogged down by details about the expedition's preparation and progress, but the author threw in enough twists and turns and revelations to keep me interested. Above all, the story of the women's relationships was believable and admirable and held together through the novel's two time frames.
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LibraryThing member chibitika
The way the story unfolds, going back and forth in time, was masterfully written. The characters are engaging, and their fates are satisfyingly told. Highly recommended.
LibraryThing member RidgewayGirl
The premise here is intriguing: when the two groups that set out to rescue the possible survivors of Franklin's Arctic expedition come back having failed, Lady Franklin puts together a new team, this time made up entirely of women. She promises riches and fame to the participants of a successful
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venture, but that she will disavow all knowledge of one that fails. For Virginia Reeve, chosen to lead this venture, that chance is enough. And while some of the women chosen to be in this group give her pause, she's willing to take the opportunity. The reader knows immediately that things went tragically wrong and the book alternates between the story of the venture and the subsequent trial, where Virginia is charged with murder.

There's no question that, despite the fact that it takes a very long time before the expedition even sets out, Mcallister writes with such forward momentum that it was hard to set this book down. There's not a lot of subtlety here and the shocking revelations were not at all surprising, nor was the ending, but somehow those flaws never stopped me from beginning the next chapter. I'm not the ideal audience for mainstream historical fiction, but despite the implausibility, I enjoyed this one.
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LibraryThing member LibraryCin
In the mid-1800s, Virginia is asked by Lady Franklin to head up a women’s expedition to the Arctic to find her husband and his two lost ships. But it is to be a secret as to who hired her. And Lady Franklin chooses the majority of the women who are going… and one of the women she chooses is a
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rich spoiled girl, Caprice. Unfortunately (this is not a spoiler, as we know this at the start of the book), Caprice died while on the expedition and her parents have accused Virginia of murdering Caprice. Virginia is now on trial for Caprice’s murder, but Virginia insists she didn’t kill the girl, though they really didn’t get along.

This goes back and forth in time between Virginia’s trial and the expedition. Caprice is a character who is easy to dislike, so I was surprised at my reaction (of course, I knew it would come) when she finally died – it still hit me. Leading up to her death, Virginia and Caprice were coming around and learning to get along. There were some other unlikable characters in the book, as well.

I listened to the audio, and although initially I wasn’t sure if the narrator would keep my attention, I was kept interested. As I skim through other reviews, I see that Virginia was based on a real person. It’s unfortunate that was no author’s note to tell me that. I do like author’s notes in my historical fiction so I know what really happened and what didn’t. I know about the Franklin Expedition and I could have guessed that there was never a women’s expedition to find Franklin, his ships and crew.
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LibraryThing member AmyM3317
In 1853, Virginia Reeve is tasked by Lady Jane Franklin to head an expedition of twelve women into the Artic to find her husband and his lost crew. Already being a seasoned adventurer having led many groups over the years through the Oregon Trail into California, Virginia is looking for a different
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kind of adventure. One that will replace a certain event that resulted in a recent tragic loss. Despite the inherent dangers, Virginia is confident in her ability to lead this expedition.

Fast-forward a year later and Virginia is on trial for murdering one of the women. Only five women from the expedition are seated in the courtroom to show their support for Virginia. So what really happened out there in the Arctic? Events unfold between chapters alternating from the expedition and the courtroom. Between the truth told and secrets kept, is the real story of what lengths people will go to survive.

This is only the second book by Greer Macallister that I've read although all of them have been on my radar, but of what I've read from her, I'm so impressed with the way she focuses these historicals so completely upon women. Giving them such agency and such depth even when they're battling within a world that caters more to men.

The Arctic Fury drew me in from the first page and I think the way that Greer Macallister cleverly delves out information, how the mystery is slowly pieced together is simply marvelous. I loved how she connects Virgina's past and present. It all clicks rather brilliantly together and I loved that I actually could see where we were being led because I kinda felt like I was in on something. It connected me a little more to the story and made those instances where I didn't know what was coming all the more impactful.

I don't want to speak too much about the story as I don't want to give any crumbs of information away because that will surely ruin some of the twists.

I loved that, even though this is mainly Virgina's story, Greer Macallister takes the time to make the other ladies within the expedition really well rounding characters themselves. She's such a talent that even these women whose voices aren't the loudest, I still feel like I understood them, their actions. Why they would choose the path they did.

My only complaint is that some of the finally revealed motivations remain a bit murky for me. They didn't have the impact that I had hoped given the build up. Mind you not everything just a few bits and pieces.

So far, Greer Macallister has never failed to draw me in, in a completely immersive way within her stories. The Arctic Fury will make you feel the frigid cold air in your bones, will make you feel the dedication and commitment of these women. And speaks a lot about our will to survive. I cannot wait to see what comes next from Greer Macallister and in the mean time to catch up on what I've missed.

*ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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LibraryThing member JillHannah
What an inspiring, daunting journey! I love historical fiction and the experiences I imagine while traveling through history in the story. This story has certain actual events and actual people from history tossed in with the fictional story, and I googled a lot of information because the story
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piqued my interest!
We follow Virginia and the diverse collection of fellow female adventurers on their Artic expedition, thanks to an insistent Lady Franklin who wants to know what happened to her husband. The story goes back and forth from their adventures to the trial where Virginia is accused of murdering one of the several women who never returned from the expedition.
I'm impressed with the research involved in this story. I felt as if I was back in the 1840s on the ship, traveling across the frigid tundra, fighting for my life, and caring about the band of women thrown together. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me a copy of this interesting novel.
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Original language


Physical description

8.25 inches


1728215692 / 9781728215693


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