Dan Sandman

47: The North Water by Ian McGuire

In Adventure, Books, Fiction, Horror on 18/11/2016 at 12:00 pm

the-north-water-by-ian-mcguireSumner is an Irish doctor on a whaleboat full of untoward characters, including a psychopathic killer called Drax. He has recently been wrongly dismissed from the army and is addicted to laudanum. When the cabin boy is violated and then found strangled to death, things start to go terrible wrong for Sumner and the whole ship’s crew. What ensues is a gripping, violent and gruesome horror story. Sumner must fight for his life, as the arctic freeze and the villain Drax conspire against his chances of survival.

What makes this novel different to most other historical sea stories are the swear words, which would be hard to imagine in anything written more than fifty years ago. McGuire sets out to shock and thrill the reader from the very first chapter, where we are immediately introduced to expletive language. The questionable morals of the characters are used to amuse the reader, as the plot becomes increasingly more macabre. Overall, the tone of the book is playful and intended as entertainment.

Sea adventure stories have long been a popular staple of the British public. Television series and films have been made of the most popular books, such as the Hornblower on ITV and Master and Commander starring Russel Crowe. These adaptations are all part of a long tradition of popular fiction stretching back to Robinson Crusoe.  I am going to be researching sea stories in the coming weeks as a potential topic for my MA dissertation.

What would you write about for your dissertation?

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