** RECOMMEND **
Wild and wooly like the setting
This is intricate without being detailed, sprawling and yet stark. It is a difficult ride to describe ... somewhat like 100 Years of Solitude set in Newfoundland!
I really enjoyed being transported to this untamed place peopled with a strange collection of characters. Not a book where you developed empathy for the characters but one where the narrative was a passing parade of their lives and times. And what a harsh, bleak life that was! And what times of deprivation and endurance!
There were definite elements of "weird" ... lead by Judah who is "born" from a whale's belly, forevermore bleached and stinking. But there were elements like the village custom of passing a baby through the branches of an ancient tree, or the itinerant priest who sleeps with the widow with the ghost of the husband sitting by the fire, or the webbed fingers passed down after an encounter with a mermaid.
As it was a cross generational novel, it crossed history. There were wonderful insights into such things as the unionisation of the fishing fleet, the ebb and flow of religious tolerance, long-held superstitions, and the intermingling of families.