One of The New York Times Book Review's 10 Best Books of the Year
Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize
Winner of the RSL Encore Award
Finalist for the Los Angeles Book Prize
A New York Times and Wall Street Journal Bestseller
Named a Best Book of the Year by Chicago Tribune, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, New Statesman, Publishers Weekly, and Chicago Public Library
Behold the man: stinking, drunk, and brutal. Henry Drax is a harpooner on the Volunteer, a Yorkshire whaler bound for the rich hunting waters of the arctic circle. Also aboard for the first time is Patrick Sumner, an ex-army surgeon with a shattered reputation, no money, and no better option than to sail as the ship's medic on this violent, filthy, and ill-fated voyage.
In India, during the Siege of Delhi, Sumner thought he had experienced the depths to which man can stoop. He had hoped to find temporary respite on the Volunteer, but rest proves impossible with Drax on board. The discovery of something evil in the hold rouses Sumner to action. And as the confrontation between the two men plays out amid the freezing darkness of an arctic winter, the fateful question arises: who will survive until spring?
With savage, unstoppable momentum and the blackest wit, Ian McGuire's The North Water weaves a superlative story of humanity under the most extreme conditions.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
This brutal, relentlessly grim, and fantastically propulsive thriller is populated by characters we won't soon forget. Ian McGuire's sophomore novel lays bare the increasingly dangerous conditions—and crew—aboard an English whaling ship bound for the Arctic Circle. Taut and terrifying, The North Water is savage poetry.
McGuire's novel is a dark, brilliant yarn set on a 19th-century Yorkshire whaler in the dead of winter. An ex-army surgeon named Patrick Sumner, his reputation ruined by an ignoble incident in wartime India, seeks to escape his past by shipping out as doctor on the whaling ship Volunteer, bound for the Arctic Circle. But the voyage to the waters north of the British Isle is doomed from the beginning: the men responsible for the ship have no intention of bringing it back in one piece. And if that weren't enough, a debauched murderer named Henry Drax is aboard. The harpooners meet with some success while at sea, whaling, sealing, and capturing a bear cub, but a test of wills begins after the mutilated body of a cabin boy is discovered below deck in a cask used to store minced-up whale blubber. Sumner challenges the suspected culprit, violence ensues, and soon the ship is without leadership. The frozen seas threaten to cripple the ship, and what's left of the crew tries desperately to survive the worst of the winter trapped in the ice. There is no light, no letup in this gruesome tale, so there is great significance in the rare but moving acts of kindness and camaraderie between these men in peril. An amazing journey.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Intense and vivid
Gets better with every turn of each page. Goes deep showing how very foul men can be. Great story
The author carefully weaves a story with exquisite wording presenting 18th century whaling life in undiluted brutality. When the subject matter turned my stomach the author’s skill kept me reading.
Very realistic and hard to put down
Seems as though it could be a true story with very colorful characters with a good plot that all comes together toward the end.