Arctic Star - Tom Palmer
Having loved 'After the War' by Tom Palmer last year, I was excited and highly anticipating this new release, and am happy to say I was not disappointed.
Following the story of three childhood friends who grow up in Plymouth during the Second World War and end up serving on ships together on the harsh Arctic Convoys, this is an exciting and at times harrowing account of their experiences.
Told in Tom's now trademark historically accurate style, and with obvious admiration and well-deserved respect for those whose story he is recounting, the story doesn't shy away from the harsh realities of war, and I liked that about it. It doesn't glamorise the battles or hero-worship those involved...indeed there is challenge of politicians and politics here (enough for older readers to pick up on and investigate further if desired, but not enough to detract from the main story itself).
I enjoyed the accuracy of the descriptions and details...the involvement of the Imperial War Museum and staff of HMS Belfast is acknowledged, and having spent a night aboard as part of a school trip to London with 50 year 6 pupils, I can vouch for the descriptions of below-deck conditions, first-hand. The inclusion of facts, pictures and details alongside the narrative and after the story is a nice inclusion for those readers eager to find out more about the origins and facts behind this fictional account.
There is plenty of drama - the constant threat of attack pervades the narrative, and I enjoyed the chapter where the three pals escape from trouble ashore.
As well as this, however, there is a deeper element to this story, as per in After the War, where Tom Palmer so brilliantly draws us into empathy with the feelings of the characters as they experience their part in the story...in this case, fear of the situation, questioning of the politicians and their choices, and the dark reality of life or death decisions being made by Captains for their sailors and others.
Yet another brilliant story from an author whose work, I think, is getting better and better each book. I love the way that Tom has found stories that are at risk of being forgotten or lying unknown, and that his stories help raise awareness lesser known heroism with such attention to detail, respect for those involved, and historical accuracy.
Arctic Star is published this May by Barrington Stoke (@BarringtonStoke and barringtonstoke.co.uk). I was provided with a copy to review by the publishers, but all thoughts and comments are honest and my own.
Look out for a Teacherhug Radio episode of Author Voices coming in May, where Tom discusses the story and reads from the book.
Tom Palmer is on Twitter as @tompalmerauthor, and his brilliant website, packed with resources and extra information about all his books, is tompalmer.co.uk
You can pre-order signed copies from Tom's suggested independent bookshop here: https://bookcornerhalifax.com/signed-copies/
Review by Rich Simpson (@richreadalot) April 2021