Review: Minds of Winter by Ed O’Loughlin

As you can tell from my love letter to The North Water, I like books set in the arctic. When I was a kid, I wanted to be an explorer right after my ballerina phase and just before my Indiana Jones phase. (Current phase: I want an office with a door.) I excitedly requested Ed O’Loughlin’s Minds of Winter from NetGalley when I saw the Franklin Expedition’s prominent place in the blurb:

In a journey shrouded in mystery and intrigue, Sir John Franklin’s 1895 campaign in search of the Northwest Passage ended in tragedy. All 129 men were lost to the ice, and nothing from the expedition was retrieved, including two rare and valuable Greenwich chronometers. When one of the chronometers appears a century and a half later in London, in pristine condition and crudely disguised as a Victorian carriage clock, new questions arise about what really happened on that expedition—and the fates of the men involved.

There are many new questions, but few answers. Most chapters are flashbacks to historical events, but two modern-day characters, Nelson and Fay, surface regularly to frame the historical anecdotes without quite tying them together. The best parts of Minds of Winter are the accounts of various expeditions sent to search for the Franklin Expedition and the fabled Northern Passage. read more