Julie Christine's Reviews > Hold the Dark

Hold the Dark by William Giraldi
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"The dead don't haunt the living. The living haunt themselves."

In the tradition of David Vann, Daniel Woodrell, Denis Johnson and Cormac McCarthy, William Giraldi writes of evil things set in terrible, beautiful landscapes where secrets are easy to hide and humanity rots in cellars and forests or is beset upon by wild animals that feast on the carrion of our nightmares.

Hold the Dark is a sort of Revenant for the modern age, a tale of beasts and hunting, snow and corrupt hearts. It did not surprise me to learn this 2014 novel was quickly optioned and the film is currently in production. The setting is a vibrant, wretched character in its own right, the pacing breathless, plot idiosyncratic, characters iconic.

The premise starts, takes a radical shift to the left, and never entirely returns, but it is this: In a remote village in the Alaskan wilds, wolves are stealing children. Medora Slone, a mother of one of the stolen, calls upon world-renowned wolf expert Russell Core to find her child's killer. What Core, who at sixty is hollowed out by his own tragedies, finds waiting for him in Keelut sets off a search through Alaskan backcountry that is painted in a nightmare of black and white and blood all over. Oddly, Core's character shifts into the shadows; he is replaced on center stage by Vernon Slone, Medora's husband, returned from a war in a distant desert to find his wife missing and his only child dead.

There are so many trigger warnings to this novel that you really should just stay away if violence troubles you as a reader. Shades of Deliverance, of Blood Meridian—you get the picture. Sadly, what you won't get by avoiding this novel is Giraldi's taut, shimmering prose. His language is hypnotic and mythic and worth the price of a cruel and dreadful story. Good luck.
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Reading Progress

April 6, 2016 – Shelved
April 6, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
May 9, 2016 – Started Reading
May 10, 2016 –
page 25
11.16% "I'm teaching a workshop in two weeks on compelling beginnings. I'll be sharing this novel's opening scene as a prime example of how to do it not just right, but with artistry. Wow."
May 11, 2016 –
page 61
27.23% "Oh. I wasn't expecting that."
May 12, 2016 –
page 83
37.05% "Glad this is a short read. I couldn't stay in the cold and dark, with droplets of blood freezing before they hit the ground, for very long. This is brutal. Yikes."
May 13, 2016 – Shelved as: contemporary-fiction
May 13, 2016 – Shelved as: mystery-crime-thriller
May 13, 2016 – Shelved as: native-american
May 13, 2016 – Shelved as: pacific-northwest
May 13, 2016 – Shelved as: read-2016
May 13, 2016 – Shelved as: usa-contemporary
May 13, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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Julie Christine Well, that was painful. Review to come.


message 2: by Carol (new)

Carol Your review is persuasive, Jill. I'm tempted but uncertain if the hypnotic language would trump the cruel and dreadful story for me.


message 3: by Carol (new)

Carol Sounds good. Great review.


Julie Christine Carol wrote: "Your review is persuasive, Jill. I'm tempted but uncertain if the hypnotic language would trump the cruel and dreadful story for me."

Really, Carol- there are too many great books to be discovered. If violence is a turn-off, I'd bypass this. You can always go see the movie ;) xo Julie


Julie Christine Carol wrote: "Sounds good. Great review."

Thank you, Carol!


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