|Hold the Dark
"The wolves came down from the hills and took the children of Keelut."
At the start of another pitiless winter, the wolves have come for the children of Keelut. Three children have been taken from this isolated Alaskan village, including the six-year-old boy of Medora and Vernon Slone. Stumbled by grief and seeking consolation, Medora contacts nature writer and wolf expert Russell Core. Sixty years old, ailing in both body and spirit, and estranged from his daughter and wife, Core arrives in Keelut to investigate the killings. Immersing himself in this settlement at the end of the world, he discovers the horrifying darkness at the heart of Medora Slone and learns of an unholy truth harbored by this village.
When Vernon Slone returns from a desert war to discover his son dead and his wife missing, he begins a methodical pursuit across this frozen landscape. Aided by his boyhood companion, the taciturn and deadly Cheeon, and pursued by the stalwart detective Donald Marium, Slone is without mercy, cutting a bloody swath through the wilderness of his homeland. As Russell Core attempts to rescue Medora from her husband s vengeance, he comes face to face with an unspeakable secret at the furthermost reaches of American soil a secret about the unkillable bonds of family, and the untamed animal in the soul of every human being.
An Alaskan Oresteia, an epic woven of both blood and myth, Hold the Dark recalls the hyperborean climate and tribalism of Daniel Woodrell's Winter's Bone and the primeval violence of James Dickey's Deliverance."
Hold the Dark is an ARC (advanced reading copy) I picked up at Book Expo America. I knew NOTHING about this book but the cover looked pretty awesome. After reading the back copy, I figured it would be very Cormac McCarthy-esque, which came pretty close to the truth. This might not be very "western" but it follows the small-town, remote village, strange culture, back-woods that McCarthy likes to write. Hold the Dark is set in a very small village in the Alaskan wilderness. This should be very appealing to all those folks who are REALLY into Alaska right now, have you noticed the increase of reality shows on the Nature/Discovery channels that feature Alaska? It's like the "hip" place to be. This little village though, isn't that, in actuality, you'd probably be very creeped out by the unwelcoming villagers you'd encounter. William Giraldi is very descriptive and he does a great job of thoroughly giving you the heebie jeebies.
As wonderful as Giraldi writes, this story started off at a snails pace. I had a few moments when I thought maybe I should move along and pick a different book from my insanely high stack of "to-reads". But just before I finished that thought, something would pique my interest and I would keep trucking along, still enjoying the prose but wondering where the story was going. I wouldn't call it a mystery but at the same time, I think the few hints along the way made it feel that way. It's almost like this slow reveal is the biggest book tease ever, and I admit... I got caught up in it. I have a feeling this is a book that many might pass on before the clear picture comes into view, and I can understand if they do... since I was almost there myself. However, this book is considerably short (for books nowadays) and I don't give up on a book unless I'm not connecting with it, but I kinda was.
Hold the Dark is such a beautiful title for this, it's exactly how I felt this Alaskan Wilderness would feel, a dark suppression. This unusual tale will be a favorite among those who love the style of Cormac McCarthy or William Gaddis. I can only hope that we get to see more of Giraldi, he has a specialness to his writing that can be entrancing.
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