Praise for Hold the Dark:
"A taut, muscular and often unforgettable journey into the heart of darkness. Epic, relentless, and beautifully realized."
Dennis Lehane, author of Mystic River
"Hold the Dark is 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."
"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."
"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."
Daniel Woodrell, author of Winter’s Bone
“[F]ierce, extraordinary… Hold the Dark 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 all but bereft of levity, spectacularly violent and exquisitely written. . . . Giraldi writes with force and precision and grace, particularly when he trains his eye on Alaska’s frozen landscape.”
John Wilwol, The New York Times Book Review
“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. . . . [Giraldi] found the will to bring to life his hypnotic and decidedly idiosyncratic story, a novel that 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.”
Alan Cheuse, The Boston Globe
“Eerie . . . Giraldi’s unrelenting, perfectly paced prose whips the book along to an unnerving conclusion.”
The New Yorker
"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."
Library Journal (starred review)
“William Giraldi ought to be cloned. In a literary world that grows more hermetic and enfeebled by the year, shutting itself like a clam against the turbulent waters of the wider culture, Giraldi can count himself among a dauntless few who still cling to what increasingly feels like a hopeless, romantic notion: that language not only matters, but is worth (metaphorical) bloodletting. . . Utterly brilliant . . . an astonishingly well-written piece of fiction. . . . Gripping and narratively satisfying . . . 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. . . . More than a few thriller writers would do well to take note how Giraldi manages his pacing and fashions his twists. From chapter to chapter, scene to scene, Hold the Dark never bogs down in the unnecessary or overripe, each episode hewn down to its icy core. Like the wolves that remain a central focus, Hold the Dark possesses a feral tautness that is extremely rare for a novel so besotted with language. . . . Hold the Dark is an uncompromising book. In its language. In its outlook. In its journey. Like the predators that lurk among the ridgelines in the mountains around Keelut, the novel has stalked my thoughts since I turned its last page. Giraldi has proven himself a wolf among sheep.”
Michael Lokesson, Los Angeles Review of Books
"Written in a galloping prose embedded with a hard poetry."
"Although the style of [Giraldi’s] second novel differs as much as a serial killer differs from a bright ironical hipster, Hold the Dark is equally concerned with the beyond, the farthest reaches of the human experience. Giraldi . . . transplants the Southern violence of Flannery O’Connor and the late William Gay . . . to the wilds of Alaska, the ‘edge of the interior,’ a place which ‘obliterates the imagination,’ where no doctrine of the soul will save anyone. . . . Giraldi [is] redefining how religious fiction, especially Catholic fiction, might be written by those who feel small need to shout.”
D.G. Myers, Books & Culture
“Giraldi's second novel is as much a thriller as it is a poignant examination of masculinity in its rawest form.”
Huffington Post (Best Books for Fall 2014)
“A complex, house-of-mirrors, suspenseful story line. Certainly much of novel's power resides in the oddness and otherness to this place. But what elevates this novel is the originality of its language. No clichés of the wild in these pages. . . . 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.”
Elizabeth Taylor, Chicago Tribune
“Giraldi depicts a soulless, surreal world, where evil is overwhelming. . . . The tension that occurs when an unbeliever so effectively uses the language of belief makes Hold the Dark a charged work. . . . Giraldi’s plot is tight, and best experienced in the actual paragraphs. . . .This is one of the few novels that earns the title of literary thriller. . . . Between the many bullets and arrows, Giraldi is also building an examination of evil. This is a new Catholic fiction, one forged in the smithies of writers who reject belief but retain reverence for religious language. His work recalls McCarthy, a fellow lapsed Catholic, in more than mere prosody. . . . The narrow slice of Alaska in Hold the Dark is a place of ritual and prophecy, where violence is the only future in sight. . . . [A] book that can handle such theological inquiry without demanding it. Giraldi’s endgame, in his fiction and his criticism, appears to be searching for transcendence in a world plagued with evil. Hold the Dark will be tough to stomach for many. It is a violent, dark novel, written by a man who thinks ‘knowledge and art are survival,’ someone who still considers sin real. . . . Giraldi has discarded theological framework, but remains artistically formed by those stories, and that formation gives power to his pages.”
Nick Ripatrazone, The Millions
“William Giraldi has gone over to the dark side with his Cormac McCarthy-like Hold the Dark, a brutal revenge tale. . . . [T]his novel casts an atmospheric, noirish spell that's hard to resist.”
“If Cormac McCarthy had a nightmare about the Alaskan wilderness, his dream diary might read like this. . . . A suspenseful meditation on vengeance, [Hold the Dark] will hold you in its icy grip.”
Leah Carroll, Maxim
“A supercharged novel . . . It’s not the supernatural but the nature of evil that Giraldi investigates, commencing with an opening line that could inspire envy among genre writers who’ve made their names hooking readers from the start . . . The language, however, is what distinguishes Hold the Dark—what, in fact, charges it. 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 . . . words well used in service of larger aims . . .‘Every book lives or dies by its language,’ Giraldi has said; Hold the Dark makes clear how seriously he believes it . . . One of the best novels I’ve read this year.”
Dominic Preziosi, Commonweal
“William Giraldi’s literary thriller Hold the Dark is a mythical exploration of evil on the Alaskan tundra. . . . A violent and terrifying journey into the heart of darkness, Hold the Dark will leave you feeling especially appreciative of autumn’s warmth.”
“Giraldi’s work is as cold and merciless as the Alaskan tundra in which it is set. . . .[He] takes his readers deep into the darkness of the human heart.”
Amanda Ferris, The Absolute
“Filled with bloody vengeance and supernatural secrets, [Hold the Dark] ultimately confronts the two potential evils humanity cannot escape: nature and ourselves.”
Time Out New York
“A meditation on betrayal, nature, violence, and death. The unexplainable terrors of our lives haunt this piercing tale of revenge . . . rendered in precise and exhilarating language.”
Washington Independent Review of Books
“[Hold the Dark] possesses a quiet, haunting elegance . . . with one foot in the realm of myth, another in our own reality. . . . The strongest character Giraldi has created is the Alaskan wilderness itself. . . . [It] follows with silent terror as a nature writer stumbles into a place where the rule of society and of the ‘younger gods’ have broken down. . . . Such a place—and what it says about the dark hidden in the human soul—is not something Americans are prepared to comprehend. . . .There are no excuses, no explanations, no striving for understanding. None are offered; none are possible. . . . Hold the Dark watches mutely as horrors unfold—not because the collapse is inevitable, but because, in this corner of Alaska, it has already been completed.”
J. L. Wall, First Things
“A visionary gnosticism that pictures humanity as absolutely alienated within nature . . . Giraldi seeks a higher verbal register than the vernacular clarity of realist prose. . . . [and] has brought the ethos of Greek tragedy into a contemporary setting; the drama evoked by Hold the Dark is not Aeschylus’s trilogy, however, but Euripides’s Bacchae. Like that play, the novel shows a community wracked by a visitation of ecstatic violence, and a self-styled man of reason and moderation trying to hold his world together, only to be drawn into the chaos. Giraldi, like Euripides, suggests that it is vain to resist these periodic outbreaks of frenzy, because they come from beyond the rational world humans have built and are thus beyond that world’s control. Hold the Dark’s terse and aphoristic dialogue at its best has the compressed intensity of Euripides’s drama. . . . With Hold the Dark, Giraldi has added his voice to the tragic chorus.”
John Pistelli, Rain Taxi Review
“Imaginative renderings of the known and unknown are what art is all about. . . . [Hold the Dark] can transport readers into a nightmarish dream that asks us to consider the mysteries of nature and man.”
Nancy Lord, Alaska Dispatch News
“Intense . . . and full of powerful, lyrical prose.”
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
“Propulsive . . . This is brightly-colored action prose, verbs and nouns tumbling down to create images that whip out and away from you, blood-specked and powder-singed . . . Giraldi has written with faithfulness to the sort of goodness we find in our own world when confronted by horrors of this magnitude . . . The challenge of evil and destruction in a book like this is a sign of the fiction having a serious moral quality. Giraldi’s remarkable achievement is in conveying this challenge through crackling prose while keeping his barreling plot under tight control. There are many horrors in these pages, but there are glimmers of hope, too, and plenty to feast on besides.”
Englewood Review of Books
"Written in a spare but lyrical style, Hold the Dark is as much a mythical tale as it is a crime-fiction novel. Giraldi employs the topography of the vast, bleak tundra to telling effect, carving a story from its primal elements as if working on scrimshaw, in the process scraping away the facade of contemporary reality to reveal witchcraft, old gods and ancient evil. . . . Giraldi’s compulsively readable novel is concerned with the age-old battle being fought in, and for, the soul of mankind."
Declan Burke, The Irish Times