Jordanna Max Brodsky comes to the blog today with a story that mixes history with fantasy, adds Vikings to Aboriginal stories and comes together in a compelling tale, with the author providing her own narration in
The Wolf in the Whale
Taking us back to 1000 A.D., the story focuses on a young girl, Omat and her Inuit tribe – she’s been imbued with the spirit of her father – and raised to be their Shaman – it’s a curious mix of personal conflict for her: as she is a woman, yet expected to deny that part of herself and lead her tribe through challenges and remain strong for then. Even more interesting in this mix that offers great personal conflict and some pretty interesting opportunities to explore ‘both sides’ of her nature, Omat is also tasked with navigating the conundrum that is the gods – and her realization that the gods only exist if someone is to worship them almost seems to underline her unexpected personality with a series of truths and questions that, unlike most stories of this time, feel very modern and tie neatly to the whole existential questions of life and purpose…..
But, Omat is not alone in her struggles – with starvation and privations haunting her tribe – a chance encounter with another Inuit tribe brings false hope of survival and opportunity, and reveals an even deeper series of changes and challenges to come in the form of Norse explorers. Already demonstrating her facility of thought and determination to survive, Omat finds a way to curry favor and make a connection to these war-like, savage new people – and bind together in search of survival. Introducing Norse mythology and gods to the story adds yet another layer of complexity that shows the ‘important’ issues and questions for each culture are similar – as gods are there to explain and address each of these issues (health, weather, food, hunt, etc.) and Omat’s rather facile ability to adopt, discard and acknowledge each as she herself is finding a place and a way of being as she grows into adulthood and the mantle of responsibility laid on her shoulders.
Narration is provided by the author – and for me, this is a first. The premise of the title was too good to pass up, and while I found several moments where I would have preferred another narrator, the author’s knowledge of the story and ability to present the history and a sense of the conflict inside Omat and her struggles with the often dark influx of fantastical and mythological elements. Beautiful descriptions and a clear presentation allowed the more complex moments to unfold in a way that was easier to follow, although some moments did require a second listen to get all the bits straight. As a story – this was evocative and lush, richly detailed and researched, with plenty of intrigue. I think that it is a story best read for yourself, allowing each moment to be mulled over, rather than being pushed forward by a narration.
Stars: Overall: 4 Narration: 2 Story: 4.5
Title: The Wolf in the Whale
Author: Jordanna Max Brodsky
Genre: Coming of Age, Dark-theme, Folk Tales, Historic Elements, Historical Fiction / Fantasy Elements, Magical Realism, Medieval, Multi-Cultural, Romantic Elements, Setting: Canada
Narrator: Jordanna Max Brodsky
Published by: Hachette Audio, Redhook
Published on: 29 January, 2019
Source: Hachette Audio
Audio Length: 18 Hours: 25 minutes
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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.
A copy of this title was provided via Hachette Audio for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: