The Wolf in the Whale by Jordanna Max Brodsky (Book Review)
I’ve just finished The Wolf in the Whale by Jordanna Max Brodsky and I’m a bit blown away. It starts as a very tight and intimate story about a young Inuit and their relationship with their family and with the spirits that guide their daily life, then introduces the Viking threat from the outside world, then throws their gods into the mix and by the end just goes absolutely maniacally insane.
When Omat is born, her tribe has just suffered a great loss and lost many of their hunting-age men to the angry spirits of the ice. As she is brought into the world, the soul of her father is called from the sea and he is reborn inside her, leading her to be raised as a man. As a powerful spirit guide, Omat crosses worlds and breaks boundaries as she lives as a man and hunter but is often treated by others as a woman. On top of this she is constantly questioning her own feelings as she struggles to establish her own identity and fulfil her own wants and needs without betraying the person she was raised to be. Her development and growth as a character is just as incredible as her physical journey across the ice.
The world is beautiful, harsh and cold. It is an ever present character and one that constantly determines what the other characters can and cannot do. One of the amazing things about a book set in the ice is it gives us is both a world we know and one that is completely foreign and alien to the average reader. I could not get enough of it and when I hit the final 200 pages I actually went and sat at an ice rink because I genuinely wanted to immerse myself as much as I possibly could.
The magic is quite wonderful. Gods are powered by their believers, the Inuit follow their animal spirits and tell stories of the sun and the moon, the Vikings worship the all-father Odin, the warrior Thor and the trickster Loki, and on the horizon a new threat builds. A god known as Christ has risen and given his life for ordinary people, his followers spread his word like a highly infectious disease with promises of an afterlife in heaven and eternal damnation in a fiery hell for non-believers. With their regular worshippers converting to this new upstart, the gods of old find themselves in need of new followers or at the very least a land this new god cannot reach.
The Wolf in the Whale is magical and awe inspiring. It moves at a lovely pace and brings together an incredible world of ice and magic and characters that will capture your heart. It is truly a book that will take you places and one I highly recommend, and you can pick it up right now.