The North Water

  • by Ian McGuire
  • Narrated by John Keating
  • 9 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice
A 19th-century whaling ship sets sail for the Arctic with a killer aboard in this dark, sharp, and highly original tale that grips like a thriller.
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.


What the Critics Say

"The North a great white shark of a book - swift, terrifying, relentless and unstoppable." (The New York Times)
"Riveting and darkly brilliant.... The North Water feels like the result of an encounter between Joseph Conrad and Cormac McCarthy in some run-down port as they offer each other a long, sour nod of recognition." (The New York Times Book Review)
"[An] audacious work of historical suspense fiction.... It's the poetic precision of McGuire's harsh vision of the past that makes his novel such a standout...absolutely transporting." (NPR's Fresh Air)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Not bad, just not for me...

I wasn't really sure what to expect from this book. The narrator does a great job with it and was very easy to listen to. The sample your given to listen to,at least for me, makes me think of a game of thrones type of book simply set in a whaling atmosphere - very vivid, a very in your face kind of book. So I took a leap and got it. Where it made me regret it was just past the sample when a boy is raped... Had no idea it was coming, still I pushed on hoping the rest of the book would make up for it soon.... It happened again... Became a piece of the overall plot overall so I won't go any deeper than that. It also wasn't clear who the main character was for a good while, if there even was to be one. There is. As long as you can push past that, then it's not a bad book- ok plot, very detailed, great narration. That being said, would I listen to it again? No, it's just not a book for me.
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- Kyle R. Bemis "avid researcher and avid listener!"

Great story; imperfect narration

Any additional comments?

The story was very engaging, almost cinematic. (It would make a good movie.) As for the narration, John Keating has a flair for accents. He also, unfortunately, has a flair for the dramatic. I found that his dramatic, exaggerated tone when reading the narrative, non-dialogue portions of the novel were a bit too much and distracted from the simple pleasure of the writing.

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- Spy Chadwick

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-09-2016
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio