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Pub Date 28 Jan 2021 | Archive Date 5 Mar 2021
The Book Guild, Book Guild Publishing

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Harmsworth. A remote, mist-shrouded island in the Russian Arctic. Archaeology Professor Callum Ross makes the discovery of a lifetime: a prehistoric ice mummy preserved for thousands of years by the sub-zero temperatures. Only, they didn’t die of natural causes...

As Callum races to unravel the mystery of the mutilated corpse, others race to sabotage the expedition. He and his team are left stranded, and they are not alone on the island. Someone, or something relentless, is stalking them.

As the arctic mist descends and the death toll rises, the team is thrust into a nightmare fight for survival, involving submarines, cyber warfare and Spetsnaz. But none of this can prepare them for the real terror that survives deep within the island’s heart: a secret so ancient it’s been overlooked by time itself.

Harmsworth. A remote, mist-shrouded island in the Russian Arctic. Archaeology Professor Callum Ross makes the discovery of a lifetime: a prehistoric ice mummy preserved for thousands of years by the...

A Note From the Publisher

Benjamin Cross has a postgraduate degree in archaeology from the University of Oxford. An experienced field archaeologist, he has worked and travelled widely, exploring the remains of ancient civilisations around the world. A member of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists, he is now Principal Heritage Consultant with a global planning and environmental consultancy. Cross lives with his family in Carmarthenshire, Wales. He has published short stories and academic papers and has written two novels. Colony is Cross’s first novel.

Benjamin Cross has a postgraduate degree in archaeology from the University of Oxford. An experienced field archaeologist, he has worked and travelled widely, exploring the remains of ancient...

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ISBN 9781913913403
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Average rating from 43 members

Featured Reviews

What a ride! I could not put the book down! What drew me to the book was the term “archeology, but it was more than that, a group of scientists (each an expert in their field) doing a survey at the Artic before it is “set free” for future gas mining. Main character Callum is perfect for his roll, the twists and turns, the characters are perfect for the roles (an unexpected villain who is likable), the story is strong, descriptions so clear I could see it, and information that is fascinating. This is not my normal read but I totally loved it and would read it again in a heartbeat – worth of 5 stars!
Thank you to NetGalley and The Book Guild for a copy of Colony for my honest opinion.

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It’s a creature feature!

I do believe that I just read a horror book! I didn’t know what to expect, thought maybe sci-fi but all good, I really enjoyed it. The style of the story and the writing reminded me very much of Matthew Reilly’s early books Ice Station and Temple. I loved those books too.

A bunch of scientists are part of a group tasked with conducting an environmental impact assessment of Harmsworth Island in Franz Josef Land - an archipelago north of Siberia in the Barents Sea, well north of the Arctic Circle (I do love a book set in a cold climate). They are based on the icebreaker Albanov anchored offshore. A Russian company wants to start tapping into the suspected rich gas reserves around the island and, in accordance with the terms of the Arctic Council, of which thy are a member, requires this assessment before work can commence. The group includes, among others: Dr Callum Ross, archaeologist; Dr Ava Lee, vertebrate palaeontologist; Dr Daryl Lebedev, ecologist and Dan Peterson whose area of expertise is not made clear. But - as if the brutal climate is not enough to deal with, there is a secret plot afoot to sabotage the job.

And as if that is not enough, there are worse things than the cold to worry about on the island. Something stalks the unwary on this island. Among the scientists a groups Russian spetsnaz soldiers are along to provide ‘security’. Well there are polar bears around. After the sabotage, a small group of scientists, a large contingent of soldiers and the CEO of the gas company are stranded on the island - and that’s when the fun really begins. Something is out there! Something is out to get them!

There was quite a bit of blood, and gore so if you are squeamish this is probably not a book for you. It wasn’t deep and meaningful. The characters were only developed as far as necessary to tell the story. But what this book had in spades was action, drama, suspense, screams. If you want a fast paced story that has you on the edge of your seat - this book is for you! Thanks to Netgalley, the Book Guild and Benjamin for the review copy. My opinions are my own.

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I would give this book a solid 3 stars. The plot concerning the prehistoric creatures on this newly found island in Russia is engaging and is moves quickly so you are not ever left wondering when the plot is going to move. I think fans of Jurassic Park or other similar books would be interested in this book. That being said, I felt that the plot concerning the red herring of the fake environmental excavation of the island could have been developed a lot more. I didn't feel any gravity concerning this plot and did not find the need to blow up an entire building full of people justifiable in order to serve these means. The plot was quick moving and kept you engaged but the multiple story lines were lacking in harmony with the overall plot.

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Oooh, I do like me a scary story and this one is particularly good!! Hard to believe it is a debut novel, this author will go far, clearly :)

Callum is an archaeologist who has been asked to take the place of his mentor and friend, Jonas, on an expedition to a remote Arctic island. He will have to leave his eight year old son behind, and since he is a part-time dad, time together is precious. There is plenty to explore on the island but when Callum makes the find of his career, he doesn't yet know that he is not alone.....and the natives are far from friendly.

A fast-paced, believable tale set in an inhospitable place. There are politics involved in the story as well, which I didn't like as much, but all in all this is a really great read.

5 stars from me.

Thank you to NetGalley and The Book Guild.

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That was quite the adventure! It's puts me in mind of Jurassic Park but situate it in the stark arctic landscape and boom an engaging, thrill ride of a novel. It was rich in descriptive action and gore making it a engrossing read for the creature feature audience. Excellent read.

Thank you netgalley for the arc

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383 pages

5 stars

What is going on on Harmsworth Island? Quite a lot it seems.

Harmsworth is located in the Russian part of the Arctic off of Franz Josef Land. A Russian oil and gas magnate named Volkov wants to drill for gas and agrees to a environmental survey while his rigs are being constructed. He has a wide variety of experts in archeology, fauna and flora and so on invited aboard his large ship that is anchored of the island.

The scientists are ferried to and from the island by helicopter. There is also a crack military unit based on the island ostensibly to clean up an old abandoned research station. They are led by a very brave soldier named Koikov.

Scottish Dr. Callum Ross, an archeologist, is there to replace a good friend who is ill. There is also Darya, a Russian scientist, and Peterson who is an American scientist. There are many, many other scientists and techs aboard as well. Lungkaju is a native man who acts as a guide and protector when the scientists visit the island.

But, there is also another life form on the island...

I could say all kinds of cliché things about this book: “thrill ride, action-packed.” and so on, but that still wouldn't do it justice. This fantastic book is a reader's dream. The characters are very real. We learn enough about the protagonists to get to know them, but not so much that it detracts from the story. The island was described beautifully; the reader is transported to the site. It has all the things I have a deep interest in such as archeology, Antarctica, creatures and real people. This is a wonderful debut novel. Please, keep them coming Mr. Cross!

I want to thank NetGalley and The Book Guild for forwarding to me a copy of this absolutely wonderful debut novel for me to read, enjoy and review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

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ARC provided by NetGalley for an Honest Review
4.5 Stars
Visiting the Arctic is a perilous task all on its own. When prehistoric beings are thrown into the mix that against all odds have managed to thrive and survive, you’re in for one hell of a cold and bloody adventure. For this being the author's first book l really enjoyed myself. I don't have the highest standards when it comes to fact checking my fiction so I can't attest to the believability of all the ‘monsters’ in the book however all the creative liberties the author took worked for me. Early on I struggled a bit with so many characters but as the book went on and they were killed off one by one it mattered little who they were. 😳🤫 I was worried what the human connection would be in the end because let’s be honest, there usually always is one, sometimes even scarier than that of any monster. And so I’m happy to report this at least wasn’t some military ploy to weaponize the creatures or even the sending in of scape goats to scrutinize the situation. In fact it seems like no one including the military had a clue these beings even existed. Which is the one thing I questioned in the book since there was at one time a military base on the island, now abandoned and barely standing. There is of course a bigger picture going on that brings along its own obstacles but nothing to deter from the core of the story and the fight for survival. The book is told in multiple POVs but mostly that of the MC & archaeologist Callum whose addition to the exploratory team is a last minute addition. Poor him. Together he and a group of fellow scientists will go through many extremes from joy at the discovery of a lifetime to utter desperation as they fight for their very lives. If one thing is made abundantly clear, the mist is a sign of impending doom and one only the lucky will survive. On an abandoned island in the middle of the Arctic though, there’s nowhere to run and even less places to hide. Really fascinating thrill ride and I’ll be eager to see what else the author has in store for us in the future.

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One of my favourite thriller tropes is dinosaurs who have somehow survived extinction events and are seriously unhappy about humans turning up to ruin their shit. This colony is pissed. They're happily living on their Arctic island, having baby monsters and generally living their best lives, when a whole bunch of greedy men decide to exploit the natural resources of the neighbourhood. Needless to say, there's lots of screaming and dying, which was lovely.

On the negative side, there's perhaps a slight stiltedness to the writing, a few things that don't quite gel, some scenes which could have been shown but weren't. Plus, the author kills something which should never be killed in fiction. That lost him a whole point.

Even so, Benjamin Cross author is one to watch. I'd pick up whatever he writes next with no hesitation.

ARC via Netgalley

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Well I was all in to this but then I had to go to bed and the second half didn't hold my attention the next day. I liked the creatures and the myths mentioned within the book. I almost cried when they got the dog. That wasn't fair. The nest was a good part. The deaths were gory and the mystery of it all was good. I was on tender hooks at parts but other parts just dragged for me.

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Thanks to Matador for providing pre-access to this book! Personally, I liked it because there are elements of horror, thriller, and spy genre. The author seems to understand archeology and this is one of the advantages of the book - a team of scientists who go on a mission, but there is also a conspiracy against them. In addition to the conspiracy, they will have other problems that they did not expect at all.

I like that the book pays attention to the climate, to politics - it makes references to the Arctic Council and the race for influence in this new geopolitical region, the Arctic. I think it could be a good film adaptation, to be honest.

I will definitely want to read more from the author. The only thing I would like to see more is the development of the characters - in the book, the characters are developed as much as necessary for the development of the plot.

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This novel is epic. I would say it combines fantasy drama and apocalyptic fiction into one book. I was absolutely on the edge of my seat until the last page wondering what was going to happen. I highly recommend this book.

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I will spare you the intimate details of who said what to whom and why as many other reviewers have done this before me, lets say this debut story is very well composed and professionally written with vivid descriptions of both the physical landscape of Franz Josef Land, a Russian archipelago located in the Arctic Ocean composed of 192 islands over 80% covered in snow and Ice and the character's and prehistoric dinosaurs (yes I did say this). Ben uses his background in archaeology to good effect bringing an authenticity to this story. Well plotted with depth to the story 'lost world' with 'Jurassic Park' overtones but no cuddly 'frozen', read with a hot drink and fur lined slippers to keep you warm.

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Discovery Of A Lifetime.....?
The discovery of a lifetime, on a remote Russian Arctic island, gives Professor of Archeology Callum Ross more than a little grief in this tense, well written suspense. A slow build up leads to an action packed storyline amidst much description and a well crafted cast of characters. Engaging reading.

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Very awesome thriller! That had me wanting more and didn't want to tend to my wifey\motherly duties!
But that is life! ;) this book was amazing! I really loved everything about this one!

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Steven king meets Jurassic park - the perfect horror, sci-fi and crime thriller. Insights a fantastic mix of Wayward Pines fear and morbid curiosity. There are parts of this book that I read and thought “why am I doing this to myself?” Similar to when you watch vague Netflix horror movies alone and spend half of them hidden behind a cushion. Some of the gore in this book was a bit much for me - makes me worry about what is going on inside the authors head! But if you love horror movies in general then it’d be perfect as it’s a very ‘visual’ book - easy to imagine a scene playing out in your head. It’s basically written to become a TV series !

I loved it.

There are basically two major plots in this book - the first, a group of eco warriors trying to preserve an uninhabited island in the Arctic; the second, a group of scientists excited to explore an island above Russia that has been the subject of local myths about an ancient monster. The team are fully equipped to explore the fauna, species and geography of the new island - but need to watch their backs a bit more carefully!

I loved all of the different characters and you can tell that the author has been a scientist / archaeologist as their experiences have made the main character very believable and likeable. The location is eery (mist that reduces visibility) cold and exposed. It was a long book to read but I read it in a few days and couldn’t put it down! Although I found it very easy to return to and get sucked into the Arctic again when I did absolutely had to take a break.

All in all, one of the best books I’ve read so far this year!

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC in return for an honest review.

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this was not what i expected but in the best way. a thriller set in a remote area. it had me on the edge of my seat waiting to see what happened next. will definitely be reading more by this author

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I received an advance reader copy of this book to read in exchange for an honest review via netgalley and the publishers.

Colony is an amazing, edge of your seat horror about Dr Callum Ross and a group of other scientists who are hired to go to Harmsworth Island in Franz Joseph Land far north of the Arctic circle. They are hired by a Russian company who hope to tap into the rich natural gas resources there and as such require an assessment to enable them to do so.
The main characters are Dr Callum Ross - archaeologist, Dr Darya Lebedev - ecologist, Dan Peterson and Dr Ava Lee - vertebrae palaeontologist.
Something is stalking the visitors to the island and picking them off one by one. This scary creature is just as intelligent as the humans and after sabotage occurs on the trip, the scientists and the Russian soldiers (who were hired to guard the ship and its habitants from harm) are left stranded on the island with nowhere to hide.
This book was a fantastic roller coaster of a ride and I couldn't put it down. There's many small twists at the end of the book and as I read it I could envision the scenery, the scenes and the action played out like a movie! The suspense was heart racing and the fast pace was fantastic and didn't let the story grow stale.
Benjamin Cross is definitely an author to look out for!

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Quite an action-packed ride. Dr. Ross had to overcome so many obstacles in this intense page-turner. Part espionage, part archeological, it reads like Indiana Jones meets Jason Bourne.

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An unashamed B-movie in book form. Set in the remote arctic environment of Franz Jozef Land, a group of scientists are tasked with conducting an environmental impact assessment in preparation for a new gas pipeline. But they’re not alone on the island...

As a fan of character-rich fiction, I found that the characters here were only developed as far as the plot required. The two female characters, in particular, felt underdeveloped to me, spending much of the action either unconscious or in shock (not that I think I’d cope any differently, but still). This did not sit overly well with my feminist side.

That said, the pace of the plot worked for me, gearing up nicely towards the second half of the book. There is plenty of action, suspense and drama here.

A solid debut novel, recommended to fans of Michael Crichton and Clive Cussler.

I received an ARC from NetGalley and Matador in exchange for an honest review.

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This was a brilliant book. It was dramatic and thrilling, with lots of emotions. The setting of the book was gripping and made the story sound more plausible. The characters were great

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Dr Callum Ross is an archaeologist who has been recruited for a job in the Russian Arctic. There is a natural gas company who are hoping to tap into the underground gas reserves and build a large processing plant in the wilderness. In order to follow strict regulations they must undertake thorough examinations of the landscape and environment to show they will do all in their power to preserve the existing habitat. So Dr Ross is flown out and joined by other environmentalists, paleontologists etc.
During one of his explorations Dr Ross makes the remarkable discovery of an ice mummy. All evidence points to him possibly being a legendary figure. He sustained some horrific injuries when he died. What could have possibly caused them?
When other members of the expedition start to disappear it is clear that they are not alone on this frozen island. What is hiding in these caves? What could have caused such catastrophic injuries?

I couldn't put this book down. It had my heart racing, my palms sweaty and chills down my spine. There were lots of reveals and twists. It was so exciting to read, I absolutely loved it.
I don't want to talk to much about it incase I give anything away, but the constant feeling of hopelessness, then switching to never giving up, then back to hopelessness.... My poor heart!

I would recommend to someone who loves suspense, horror, monsters, action, blood and gore, explosions and battles. It's a real bum-clencher!

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This is a story about exploration & the dangers of what might be found.

This was such a fun, scary read. I love a good creature feature! The less you know going in be better, but I would recommend this for horror fans, as well as action/adventure readers.

Thank you Netgalley & Matador Books for this e-Arc!

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I love a creature feature, and this one does not disappoint.. I really enjoyed it. A tagline I saw for this book was The Relic meets Jurassic Park. I love both of those books and authors. This definitely has a James Rollins/Matthew Reilly vibe to it.
There is quite a bit of blood and gore and the characters aren't very well developed, but I don't think you need that for stories like this. The writing is a little stilted, but you can tell the author has authority on the subjects. It was a little slow to get in to for me, but once I did it's a fast pace read with tons of action, drama, suspense, interesting history, and screams.

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Reading this novel brought back happy memories of those great thrillers by Hammond Innes in which the protagonists were usually ordinary people, not typical heroes, placed in a hostile environment and relying on their wits; and memories of those great adventure thriller writers from a century or more ago: Jules Verne, Edgar Rice Burroughs and H. Rider Haggard. Combine the talents of all of the above and you have the name of a new writer: Benjamin Cross.
This is an intelligent thought-provoking thriller, full of action and horror, with realism evoked by the author's obvious vast knowledge of his chosen subject. Franz Josef Land, in the Arctic above Russia, is a perfect backdrop for a timeless story.

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Thank you Netgalley for the advance reader copy of Colony by Benjamin Cross in exchange for an honest review. Wow, this book was intense, thrilling and funny. I really enjoyed it. I have been on a kick lately reading books and watching shows that are in the Artic or Antarctica and this was a great one. There is so much suspense inherent when you place a bunch of characters at the edge of the world, surrounded by water and ice, throw in sabotage and undiscovered creatures and it just ups the ante. Once I started reading it was really hard to stop and finished it in a weekend. I highly recommend this book!

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I actually started to read this and it was really good, but then I got busy and didn't get a chance to finish it before it expired. Totally my fault and I plan on going back and finishing it some day.

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I started reading this awhile ago and put it down because I didn’t have time for it. I actually really enjoyed this book and am so glad I got to it!

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Archaeology Professor Callum Ross is taking a well-earned break with his son, Jamie, when a plea from a friend and the promise of a discovery of a lifetime lures him across the world to chase it. A mummy, preserved in ice, is discovered but something far more sinister is soon to follow it.

I loved the blend of horror with science and adventure with action that occurred throughout these pages. The discoveries made were unexpected and had me eager to learn more. What these discoveries could do, however, was brutal and bloody, leading this book to be as harrowing and horrifying as it was interesting and intriguing.

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Ah, now this one I was super looking forward to.

Colony is about the discovery of something ancient and deadly on a remote island in the Arctic. The writer is an archaeologist. I was expecting a cross between The Mummy and The Thing. I got neither.

What I did get was more of an action type thriller rather than horror. Horror was what I had hoped for, but that’s not to say I was disappointed.

To be fair, the book is tagged as an action thriller, but the blurb would suggest otherwise. ‘Potaytoes, potartoes,’ you might say, and maybe you’re right, but part of me still wishes there had been more of a The Thing vibe about the place.

However, on with the review …

The book is well written, easy to read, and the story interesting enough to make it one of my faster reads (I don’t do speed reading at all), and the cover suggests there will be more books to come featuring the lovely Dr Callum Ross. I won’t give away what was ancient and deadly (though other reviewers may have already done so), but I will say that this was the only (and only slightly) disappointing part of the book for me. I had trouble visualising the creature that was laying waste to those who dared to step foot on the island of Harmsworth, and what I did manage to piece together in my tiny brain, came out just plain weird and not that terrifying – though I’ll admit, I wouldn’t want to bump into one whilst out for a late-night stroll (or anytime for that matter). But that’s just me, and as I noted earlier, I had hoped for more horror than thriller.

The book is reasonably fast paced, a little too much jargon (aka shit I don’t know about) for my taste, but not enough to send me off to sleep (as has happened too many times to mention – is Simply Red singing Money’s Too Tight to Mention in your head now?).

All-in-all Colony is a book I would recommend, and I for one will definitely be looking out for more Dr Callum Ross stories.

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Colony begins in the distant past as we follow the journey of a Neolithic hunter as he makes his way across the frozen expanse of the Arctic, searching for something. After falling into a deep ice cave he soon finds himself at the mercy of some unseen creature, one that makes short work of the brave warrior. With this one small scene writer Benjamin Cross sets the tone for a book that is steeped in atmosphere and fraught with danger.

Jumping forward several thousand years, we join archaeologist Callum Ross as he's pulled away from his holiday with his son by a colleague of his who needs Callum to take his place on an expedition to the remote Russian Arctic, where a team of scientists are exploring Harmsworth island as part of an investigation that could have a big impact for the Russian companies that want to begin drilling for oil on the remote wilderness.

Callum is just one of several scientists, from all kinds of fields, and expects to find little archaeological evidence on the island, but when he discovers the frozen remains of an ancient hunter it sparks a mystery as to what could have killed this man all those centuries ago. Unfortunately for Callum, he will get his answers when corporate sabotage and eco-terrorism leads to him and several others being stranded on the island when their ship is destroyed. Not only do they have to find a way to survive in the extreme conditions of the Arctic, but they're also being hunted.

Over the course of the book we begin to discover what these creatures are, though there's a pretty big clue early on that makes it an obvious leap of logic as to what these things used to be, though it's one that the actual characters seem to take a little longer to get to. It makes it somewhat amusing to see them trying to puzzle out what's really on the island using scientific processes, when if they took a step back a moment and took a less precise examination they'd get to the answer a lot quicker. But then a lot of the fun of these kinds of stories is being a step or two ahead of the characters and seeing them trying to play catch up with the reader.

In a lot of ways the book reminded me of the Meg series by Steve Alten. It deals with a group of scientists having to fight for their lives against vicious killer creatures that are the stuff from history and legend; and like some of the later books in that series and it's sister series The Loch, it takes place in a remote, frozen location. It definitely made Colony more enjoyable for me, reminding me of a series that I love, and much like those books it doesn't just rely in killer creatures to keep things interesting, throwing in corporate espionage and shady dealings too so that there's a much more recognisable and human enemy in the mix.

The characters make for an interesting mix of people too, and none of them are perfect. It would have been easy to have Callum end up being a big hero, for example, when things started to go wrong, but he's not. He's imperfect. He struggles in survival situations, having to grab for nearby weapons and hoping they'll work; he's not an expert gunman mowing down hordes of creatures whilst he protects his new girlfriend. He's also very human in his personal life thanks to the relationship he has with his son, and the struggles he goes through to try and be a good father whilst juggling his work. It makes him feel like an every-man, the kind of person you yourself might know and be friends with, and it helps to ground the more fantastical elements of the book.

The supporting characters are equally well made, and most of them get small moments to shine along the way. We get a good sense of what drives them, and quickly begin to learn how they're going to react in certain situations; who will step up to the challenge and who will falter under pressure. Even those characters who end up being revealed to have ulterior motives, who end up bordering on villainous, manage to make you feel something, and you end up rooting for them to do the right thing because you just don't want to hate them. There was one particular character in the book whose death actually made me cry a little, but I'm not going to tell you which one.

Colony is a fun book, one that takes a fantastical premise and takes it seriously throughout. It doesn't enter hammy or silly territory, and works so much better because of that. This is the kind of story that under other writers could easily be seen as ridiculous or over-the-top, but Benjamin Cross manages to make it engaging, tense, and emotional throughout.

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I received an advance reader copy of this book to read in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley and the publishers.

There is something about a horror set in the frozen landscape of the Arctic that draws me in, and The Colony does not disappoint! Fans of The Thing will love this one.

Callum Ross is an archeologist who is convinced by a dying archaeologist colleague to take his place on an expedition to the Arctic circle to do some research. This in itself would be interesting, but add some sabotage, murder, native legends, and prehistoric lizard birds to the mix and you get a fast-paced adventure that is really hard to put down.

The story starts with a soldier being killed by an as yet unidentified creature and never really lets up from there, while the back and forth style of telling the story from the point of view of different characters in different locations on the same timeline, and ultimately bringing these different storylines together at the end, worked really well for me.

I did find the book a little hard to follow in the early stages, I believe due to the number of different characters involved with Russian-sounding surnames, so that I sometimes had to stop to try to remember who a certain character was and what their part in the story up to that point had been. A small complaint though.

Overall I really enjoyed this book, which is especially impressive when you learn that this is Benjamin Cross’s first novel, so I will definitely be keeping an eye out for future works by this author.

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This is a brilliant read.
Wonderful well written plot and story line that had me engaged from the start.
Love the well fleshed out characters and found them believable.
Great suspense and found myself second guessing every thought I had continuously.
Can't wait to read what the author brings out next.
Recommend reading.

I was provided an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher. This is my own honest voluntary review.

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