Hold the Dark: A Novel

Hold the Dark: A Novel

by William Giraldi

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Overview

Now a Netflix original film starring Alexander Skarsgard, Riley Keough, and Jeffrey Wright

At the edge of civilization, nature and evil collide in what “stands out as one of the decade’s best books of its kind” (Alan Cheuse, Boston Globe).


Written with “force and precision and grace” (John Wilwol, New York Times Book Review) Hold the Dark is a “taut and unforgettable journey into the heart of darkness” (Dennis Lehane). At the start of another pitiless winter, wolves have taken three children from the remote Alaskan village of Keelut, including the six-year-old son of Medora and Vernon Slone. Wolf expert Russell Core is called in to investigate these killings and discovers an unholy truth harbored by Medora before she disappears. When her husband returns home to discover his boy dead and his wife missing, he begins a maniacal pursuit that cuts a bloody swath across the frozen landscape. With the help of a local police detective, Core attempts to find Medora before her husband does, setting in motion a deadly chain of events in this “chilling, mysterious, and completely engaging novel” (Tim O’Brien) that marks the arrival of a major American writer.

Editorial Reviews

John Wilwol - New York Times Book Review

"[F]ierce, extraordinary…. An unnerving and intimate portrayal of nature gone awry. . . . Spectacularly violent and exquisitely written."

Tim O'Brien

"A chilling, mysterious, and completely engaging novel that will keep readers turning pages late into the night. The cold and unforgiving Alaskan wild becomes much more than a backdrop for this spellbinding story. It becomes a character—a living creature with its own hungers, its own secrets, its own icy motives, its own implacable will. I was entranced."

Dennis Lehane

"A taut, muscular and often unforgettable journey into the heart of darkness. Epic, relentless, and beautifully realized."

Alan Cheuse - Boston Globe

"Maybe it all began with Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock in 1938, but there is a variety of modern thriller, created these days by Robert Stone and Denis Johnson at their best, that delivers narrative thrust and beautifully composed sentences by the pageful even as it peels away the thin membrane that separates entertainment from art, and nature from civilization. Here’s Boston writer William Giraldi adding to the slender ranks of such masterly fiction… [Hold the Dark] certainly stands out as one of the decade’s best books of its kind, and one that deserves, because of its stylish flaunting of some of our darkest fears, a future readership."

The New York Times Book Review - John Wilwol

…Giraldi's fierce, extraordinary new novel…is an unnerving and intimate portrayal of nature gone awry. It forces us to confront a menacing otherness that lies beyond the typical order of things. It's…spectacularly violent and exquisitely written. If dust jackets were more than paper and ink, this one would bear blood and frost.

Publishers Weekly

07/07/2014
Giraldi makes a dark departure from his rollicking debut, Busy Monsters, with this tale of vengeance, which tracks an aggrieved man through the back country of Alaska. The novel starts out slow—and strange. Children are disappearing from the village of Keelut; locals think wolves are to blame. But when wolf expert Russell Core shows up to investigate, he makes a discovery: the body of the latest victim, Bailey Slone, strangled, and the boy’s mother, Medora, missing from the scene. Vernon, Bailey’s father, returns to town from military service overseas and goes on a maniacal rampage, brutally stabbing or shooting every cop and townsperson he encounters during his search for Medora. His boyhood friend Cheeon, a grizzled hunter even more dangerous than Vernon, joins him for part of the spree. Unfortunately, when the reason for Bailey’s murder is finally disclosed, the big reveal feels more like a delayed gimmick than a genuine surprise. Still, if Giraldi set out to write an eerie portrait of depraved behavior set in the boonies, he certainly hit his target. Agent: David Patterson, Foundry Media. (Sept.)

The New Yorker

In this eerie novel, set in a remote, icy village in Alaska, a haunted former nature writer named Russell Core is summoned to hunt a wolf that has apparently snatched a six-year-old, and retrieve the boy’s bones. Core begins his task only to discover the boy’s body frozen in a root cellar. The boy’s father returns from fighting in an unspecified war and embarks on a bloody campaign of vengeance. GIRALD’S UNRELENTING, PERFECTLY PACED PROSE WHIPS THE BOOK ALONG TO AN UNNERVING CONCLUSION. By the end, we feel, as Core does “that man belongs neither in civilization nor nature—because we are aberrations between two states of being.

Michael Lokesson - Los Angeles Review of Books

Utterly brilliant… Hold the Dark is that rarest of literary beasts: a novel whose sentences gleam like gemstones but whose pages carry you along like a bullet train…

Washington Review of Books

Hold the Dark is a mystery novel with all the right ingredients: tough characters, beautifully dangerous landscapes, revenge, a detective on the chase, a husband going after his wife, and enough bullet casings to rattle in the mind long after the story is finished.

Thomas McGuane

Hold the Dark is a powerful meditation on nature, violence and responsibility with the concentration of a fable or fever dream—a book hard to get out of your mind long after you've put it down.

Dominic Preziosi - Commonweal

There’s more than mere craftsmanship on display; it’s skill wed with that sense of obligation to readers, a commitment to using language to help them think differently and more deeply about what they see on the page. Hold the Dark seems more in keeping with the work of [Cormac] McCarthy… and maybe in a similar line to that of Robert Stone. Regardless, it’s one of the best novels I’ve read this year.

Daniel Woodrell

Snow, ice, wolves, murder, and dark love are encountered in Hold the Dark, William Giraldi's hard, unflinching, and powerful novel. This story and the telling of it have the clout and rigor of a Norse Saga.

Elizabeth Taylor - Chicago Tribune

There's an oddness and otherness to this place, and Giraldi speaks its taut, original language. To appreciate its power fully, Hold the Dark should be read closely—not so much for clues to the mystery, but rather for an appreciation of how language bridges worlds.

The New Yorker

In this eerie novel, set in a remote, icy village in Alaska, a haunted former nature writer named Russell Core is summoned to hunt a wolf that has apparently snatched a six-year-old, and retrieve the boy’s bones. Core begins his task only to discover the boy’s body frozen in a root cellar. The boy’s father returns from fighting in an unspecified war and embarks on a bloody campaign of vengeance. GIRALD’S UNRELENTING, PERFECTLY PACED PROSE WHIPS THE BOOK ALONG TO AN UNNERVING CONCLUSION. By the end, we feel, as Core does “that man belongs neither in civilization nor nature—because we are aberrations between two states of being.

Library Journal

★ 09/01/2014
Giraldi's follow-up to Busy Monsters is set in a small Alaskan village at the winter solstice, and the harsh Arctic landscape serves as both physical and psychological backdrop for an unnerving tale that explores where and how human nature gives way to its opposite. After receiving a letter from Medora Slone, a young mother whose son has been recently taken by wolves, wolf expert Russell Core travels to the remote Alaskan village of Keelhut for reasons he doesn't fully understand. Arriving at the darkest time of the year, Core gradually comes to learn that the truth of the situation is far different—and far more sinister—than he could ever have imagined. And it will grow even darker after Vernon Slone returns from the Iraq War to find his son dead and his wife missing. VERDICT Giraldi's back-country Alaska is a savagely amoral place where the constant struggle for survival brings out the most elemental aspects of humanity. This work travels deep into the most ancient and primitive realms of being, offering an unflinching—and more than a little frightening—exploration of the domains of the unconscious that are more commonly the province of myth and fairy tale.—Lawrence Rungren, Andover, MA

Kirkus Reviews

2014-07-01
A wolf expert travels to a peculiarAlaskan village to investigate a series of child murders.There's a bit of bait and switch going on in this murky, brittle novel. Theopening chapters lead you to believe this will be a wilderness-survival storycentered on Russell Core, an elderly expert on wolves whose field research onceled him to kill one of the great beasts. Carrying his grudging respect for theanimals, Core travels to the hamlet of Keelut at the behest of Medora Slone,whose 6-year-old son, Bailey, is the third local child to have been taken inthe night. After some impenetrable warnings from a local crone ("You would barthe door against the wolf, why not more against beasts with the souls of damnedmen, against men who would damn themselves to beasts"), Core investigates thelocal pack to find no evidence the boy was killed by wolves. Back at Medora'shouse, he finds that she's fled and quickly discovers Bailey's body buried inthe basement. The bulk of the book concerns Bailey's father, Vernon, a vet whoreturns home from an unidentified war and embarks on a killing spree withindistinct motives, with Medora seemingly marked as the final target. Core,meanwhile, is laid up with the flu for two weeks in a local hotel beforeconveniently being resurrected to serve as witness to the novel'sdenouement. Ultimately, the First Blood-like vigilante violence isunearned and confusing, while Core's participation seems the act of a literarywriter trying to bring emotional substance where little exists. Giraldi (BusyMonsters, 2012) is borrowing, less successfully, from the same well asCormac McCarthy and Daniel Woodrell, but the novel's affectation of style can'tsupport what is ultimately a gloomy and unsatisfying tale. A novel like this one that aspiresto greater meaning needs more than an assembly of hard men and noir idioms tomake it work.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781631490422
Publisher: Liveright Publishing Corporation
Publication date: 08/10/2015
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 346,999
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 2.20(d)

Customer Reviews