Depression can be an entirely isolating condition. It was explored with ironic detachment in Rebecca Hunt’s debut, Mr Chartwell, which saw Winston Churchill’s ‘black dog’ take on monstrous, real form. In her second novel, Hunt scrutinises the consequences of stark, physical isolation as two groups of explorers and scientists, a hundred years apart, are confined to the icy limits of an Antarctic island, the titular Everland: abode of penguins and seals, and the scene of psychologically and biologically demanding travails for the humans who dare to enter. Take the second star to the right, and you won’t end up here.
Everything is stretched and tested on the island, as if it were a kind of purgatory. This includes truth itself. Hunt’s mission is to show the relativity of perception – one man’s hero is another’s villain. The paradox is that in the never-ending glare or gloom of Everland the things