The Adversary by Canadian Author Michael Crummey, is not an easy read. I’d not read any of his works prior to being afforded the opportunity to read a pre-publication galley courtesy of Bookbrowse.com and the US publisher, Doubleday Books, in exchange for an honest review.
The grim, dark, brutal story takes place in perhaps early 19th Century Mockbeggar, with the primary business being salted cod fisheries, on the northern coast of Newfoundland. The book follows the hatred and competition for control of the fisheries and related mercantile businesses between two siblings: Abe Strapp and the Widow.
The author employs the unique colorful language of the settlers and populates of Mockbeggar and nearby Nonsuch with the Beadle, Matterface, Old Soot, the Duke of Limbs, Heater, and the Jerseyman all featuring prominently.
Despite the presence of the Church of England and a society of Quakers, most of the characters are corrupt, soulless, conniving and mean-spirited. Because I love historical fiction and an author that uses words artfully in telling a tale, I am giving this book four stars. But, there is little positivity in The Adversary. Plague, amputations, scourging, retribution, piracy, graft, audaciously unsavory language, creative terms for body parts, a bit of unconsenting sodomy, more plague, death, death and more death.
While I did enjoy a great deal about the book, it was certainly not an uplifting book for the holiday season. Or a beach read.