Why I did not finish this book

Last week I tried to read The devil and the dark water by Stuart Turnton. It is a mysterie, set in 1634, and set on a ship from the Dutch East India Compagnie (the VOC). On board are some distinguished passengers and there is something wrong. A leppar cursed the boat before it could sail, there are connections with a possible demon and the only man who could solve this mystery is in a holding cell onboard, accused of a terrible crime. 

I love good historical fiction, and one set in the 17th century on a Dutch VOC ship sounded really good. 

I read until page 191, and then I realised I did not like the book. There were too many details that were wrong, in dress, speech, social classes, religious aspects etc. And it irritated me. I tried another 30 pages to see if I could let go of the historian inside me and just enjoy the mystery aspect of the story, but I found out I could not. I closed the book and put it on the pile for the charity shop. 

I did read that Stuart Turnton said he had no intention to write a historical novel, and that he ditched all period-details that would hinder his story. My only question is why set the book in 1634 if you do not intend to get it right? It is very easy to do your research and make sure you get the details right. It does not mean you have to write a historical thesis about the VOC, but enough details that are correct do lift the story into something really good. 

I wondered if the story could have worked on a modern yacht or something like that, and possibly it could have. So it was not necessary to set it in 1634. 

So, I am really puzzled why Mr. Turnton used the well known 17th century and the VOC to write a story that is historical rubbish. Perhaps the 17th century and the VOC are not that well known to the English and American readers, but then you are just plain lazy as a writer, it means that you just cannot be bothered to get it right and you pick a timeperiod that your readers will not know very well so the lack of historical correctness will probably not bother them. 

It is a shame, because I was looking forward to this book, but it turned out, it was not a good book. 


  1. It always bugs me when the historical details in a book are wrong; it throws me out of the story. I can see why you decided not to finish this one.

    1. Yes, that is exactly what happened, all the little things that did not add up for the time period, threw me out of the story! Very irritating. Although I have seen plenty of reviews from people who loved the story, so some people may not be bothered by it.

      Kind regards,


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