Zeke Voorhees is commanding an expedition which sets sail from Massachusetts to discover the fate of Sir John Franklin who vanished in the far north,. In his company of disgruntled sailors and misfits is Erasmus Darwin Wells, a middle-aged naturalist whose life, until now, has been a series of frustrations and disappointments. It is not quite right to call Erasmus the hero of this story; heroism is not his line. Yet it is his vision which shapes the novel.
Barrett's treatment of character is subtle and powerful. The awkward Erasmus, the dashing Zeke, thoughtful surgeon Dr Boerhaave; all are brought alive with tenderness and insight. 'The Voyage of the Narwhal' is strange and rare, a journey to the unexplored lands that lie in distant latitudes and exist inside us all.
A fabulous novel - exciting, sensual, brilliantly executed, full of blood-freezing surprises, indelible characters and heart-stopping mysteries.