Ziad's Reviews > The North Water

The North Water by Ian McGuire
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really liked it

I'm gonna go ahead and say The North Water is not a “beach read.” Not light, summer vacation fare. Not something to relax and unwind with in the tub.

Rather, it is easily the most brutal, graphic, viscerally-wrenching novel I've read since Blood Meridian. The story is gripping and the prose is accessible, but the subject matter is quite…challenging.

McGuire is a master storyteller, in that I felt this book—I found myself routinely disturbed and physically nauseated by the near constant barrage of violence and disease, blood and filth, slit throats and crushed skulls.

I couldn't possibly do it justice, so I'll just give you this quick sample from a scene in which the surgeon protagonist Sumner operates on a sick priest whom he suspects has an abscess in his abdomen. It's not actually a spoiler, unless you count spoiling your lunch:

(view spoiler)

So that happened. And so did a lot of other terrible things. You have no idea.

But still, somehow, The North Water was well worth reading. Like some sort of revolting rollercoaster, I found myself horrified while experiencing it, but oddly exhilarated to have made it through to the end.

Your mileage may vary.

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Reading Progress

December 15, 2016 – Started Reading
December 15, 2016 – Shelved
December 23, 2016 – Finished Reading

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