In an isolated outport on Newfoundland's northern coastline, Abe Strapp is about to marry the daughter of a rival merchant to cement his hold on the shore when the Widow Caines arrives to throw the wedding and Abe's plans into chaos. That ruthless act of sabotage is the opening salvo in a battle between the man and woman who own Mockbeggar's largest mercantile firms, each fighting for the scarce resources of the north Atlantic fishery, each seeking a measure of revenge on the person they despise most in the world. As their unshakeable animosity spirals further each year into vendettas and violence, the community is increasingly divided and even the innocents in Mockbeggar find themselves forced to take sides, with devastating consequences. Through merciless seasons of uncertainty and want, through predatory storms and pandemics and marauding privateers, it is the human heart that reveals itself to be the most formidable and unpredictable adversary for each person drawn, inevitably and helplessly, into that endless feud.
Detailed and haunting ... A beautifully written, immensely powerful and subtly ingenious novel. Its greatest — which is to say, most monstrous — revelations are so discreetly offered that you could miss them; but when you realize them, they practically take your breath away. They did mine. And when I turned the last page, I just sat there, utterly stunned by this novel’s terrible force.