I received this as an ARC through the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
A sweeping tale of clashing cultures, warring gods, and forbidden love: In 1000 AD, a young Inuit shaman and a Viking warrior become unwilling allies as war breaks out between their peoples and their gods-one that will determine the fate of them all.
“There is a very old story, rarely told, of a wolf that runs into the ocean and becomes a whale.”
Born with the soul of a hunter and the spirit of the Wolf, Omat is destined to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps-invoking the spirits of the land, sea, and sky to protect her people.
But the gods have stopped listening and Omat’s family is starving. Alone at the edge of the world, hope is all they have left.
Desperate to save them, Omat journeys across the icy wastes, fighting for survival with every step. When she meets a Viking warrior and his strange new gods, they set in motion a conflict that could shatter her world…or save it.
This novel is epic, a large, beautiful snowy masterpiece that I did not want to end. It took me a long time to finish it because I wanted to keep the end from coming. As it is, this novel is huge, beautiful, and worth the time. From the very beginning, when we meet Omat as a child talking to the spirits that guide her people and learning to hunt and be a leader, til the very last page, the story is so moving and powerful that I cannot think of any way that it could be more perfect. This novel really has it all, an epic journey, love, death, battle, suffering, and so much ice and snow that you start to feel cold in some parts when you are reading it. There are parts that can be hard to stomach, some of the violence is very brutal, but the overall arc of the novel really makes these parts feel like an afterthought in the whole of the entire book.
This novel could have fell flat very easily. For as many pages as there are, there are very few characters, not much landscape, but there are also great battles and action. Sometimes when a person is reading about, as an example, a fight between twelve people, with punches and knives and death, it is very easy for these scenes to get muddled, for the action to turn into too much, and it can become very confused. It is a great author that can pull off these scenes, and I have yet to read someone that writes with the clarity in these scenes as Jordanna Max Brodsky writes. It also feels like the pacing does not waver in these fights, where Jordanna Max Brodsky is cool-headed in being the storyteller, telling us that the readers can be excited and read faster but the writing is going to continue to be steady and strong. I am impressed by so many things in this novel and the writing, and this is just an example. It feels as if she has taken her time to make sure that she has gotten this right, and she has.
There is so much going on in this novel that is amazing, that you should just read. One of my favorite aspects is the way that beliefs are portrayed throughout, and not just the beliefs of the Inuit people or of the Norse, but how there is equal validity to all of it. The mythology that is used for all groups is equal and very important. There are parts where I started to think, “Oh yeah. This has been set up to where absolutely anything can happen and be believable because there is a clear explanation for it all.” This is true. This is true because Jordanna Max Brodsky has built such a strong story that it all makes sense. What a masterful work. The more that I think about it, the more powerful it becomes. If I had one wish, it would be for everyone to at least attempt to read this novel this year. I imagine most people will be just as blown away by it as I am. The Wolf in the Whale is so incredible that it feels like I have just scratched the surface of the things I can say about it. Just go read it. This could be my book of the year.
If this does not convince you to read The Wolf in the Whale, at least read this article by Jordanna Max Brodsky about her doing research for this book: