The North Water

The North Water



The Pequod Review:

Henry Drax, the protagonist of The North Water, is one of the great fictional creations: a murderous and psychopathic harpooner hired aboard the Volunteer, a whaling ship its owner plans to wreck for insurance proceeds during a voyage to Greenland. Drax has an amoral brutality and a passion for doing rather than thinking (“Only actions count, he thinks for the ten-thousandth time, only events. All the rest is vapor, fog.”). I love the harsh beauty of Ian McGuire's prose: 

It is not a sin, he tells himself, there is no sin left now, there is only the blood and the water and the ice; there is only life and death and the gray-green spaces in between. He will not die, he tells himself, not now, not ever. When he is thirsty, he will drink his own blood; when he is hungry, he will eat his own flesh. He will grow enormous from the feasting, he will expand to fill the empty sky.

Imagine Jim Thompson reimagining Moby-Dick, or Anton Chigurh transported back to the 19th century. The North Water is a gritty, realistic, and violent masterpiece.