All I knew about this book before I picked it up was that it had good reviews and it was suppose to be dark.
The book opens by introducing us to Henry Drax who is most likely a psychopath. He follows base instincts to know when to eat, sleep, have sex, get drunk, and to kill. Henry Drax represents everything that is vial about human nature. Yet, this is not really his story.
The novel follows Sumner, an army surgeon that was dishonorably discharged while serving in India. Unable to find work Sumner agrees to be a doctor on a whaling ship. To add to his misfortune Henry Drax is also employed on the ship.
The novel is dark but not graphic. Ian McGuire does a great job describing the characters and the world. He pays extra special attention to the olfaction sensory experience. I do not think I have ever pictured smell so vividly from reading a book. Yet, due to Sumner acting as narrator, the book portrays the potential cruelty of human nature without being so graphic that it was completely unreadable. Instead what is shown is a struggle to overcome base human nature to transform into a better human being.
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