The North Water – Ian McGuire

26851955

“1859. A man joins a whaling ship bound for the Arctic Circle. Having left the British Army with his reputation in tatters, Patrick Sumner has little option but to accept the position of ship’s surgeon on this ill-fated voyage. But when, deep into the journey, a cabin boy is discovered brutally killed, Sumner finds himself forced to act. Soon he will face an evil even greater than he had encountered at the siege of Delhi, in the shape of Henry Drax: harpooner, murderer, monster…”

After reading The LuminariesI was still in the mood for the 19th century. Long-listed for the Booker and a great back cover blurb, I dove into the explicit world of whaling, violence and survival. I’ve heard it described as ‘Jack London on steroids’ and I wouldn’t disagree. It is unapologetically profane and gory and McGuire sets a cracking pace as he draws you into a shocking exploration of moral relativism and the human will to survive. A gripping and action-packed narrative, but thoughtful enough to raise some deep and dark questions, I’d say this book gets
4stars
MA

 

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