The Full-Moon Whaling Chronicles by Jason Guriel

Every so often, you get to read something that is so unique, so imaginative in structure and story, that you’re simply blown away. I haven’t stopped thinking about The Full-Moon Whaling Chronicles by Jason Guriel since I finished it, and I know I’m going to have to read several more times, just to admire each facet of it. This novel? Epic poem? Legend? Is so brilliant that it rises to the top of what has been a very excellent streak in reading – I’ve read a lot of outstanding books both before and after The Full-Moon Whaling Chronicles, but none so singularly innovative in their storytelling.

“In addition to being an adventure plot-wise, it was an adventure to read.”

Set in a dystopian world where land is rapidly disappearing all over the world due to climate change (Newfoundland has vanished, Tokyo looks a lot like Venice, and technology to shrink people and their living quarters is heavily used for those not wealthy enough to afford to live in full-size most of the time), the novel alternates between an in-story YA book also called The Full-Moon Whaling Chronicles with a cult following about werewolves who go whaling, and the story of Kaye, an undergrad in English who gets a chance to work with a major scholar on the book, who’s looking for the reclusive author of the book. This is a wild adventure on both sides: exploring the story of the werewolves and its dramatic journey, and Kaye’s work, including a rich oligarch’s robotic recreation of the book, and trying to find Mandy Fiction, the author who started it all.

Oh, and The Full-Moon Whaling Chronicles is written entirely in verse. The rhyming couplets and the syntax is amazing – some pieces are obviously a little more of a stretch than others, but overall the structure of the book really made it. Part of the allure of the in-story book is its genius in being written in verse, and Guriel packs on the additional layer by having both parts of the novel in the same verse. In addition to being an adventure plot-wise, it was an adventure to read. The rhythm of the words was a lot of fun to get into and made reading The Full-Moon Whaling Chronicles a lot of fun.

It can be challenging to balance an interesting plot, a book within a book, a handful of twists, a dystopia about climate change, lessons about technology and class, and an inventive form. To be sure, Guriel is packing a lot inside this book, and it feels very full. But it works, and it manages to be joyful to boot. The Full-Moon Whaling Chronicles is one of the most unique books I’ve ever read, and certainly going to be one of my top reads of 2023.


Jason Guriel is the author of On BrowsingForgotten Work, and other books. He lives in Toronto.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Biblioasis (Aug. 1 2023)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 288 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1771965517
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-177196551

 -- Website

Alison Manley has ricocheted between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia for most of her life. Now in Halifax, Nova Scotia, she is the Cataloguing and Metadata Librarian at Saint Mary's University. Her past life includes a long stint as a hospital librarian on the banks of the mighty Miramichi River. She has an honours BA in political science and English from St. Francis Xavier University, and a Master of Library and Information Studies from Dalhousie University. While she's adamant that her love of reading has nothing to do with her work, her ability to consume large amounts of information very quickly sure is helpful. She is often identified by her very red lipstick, and lives with her partner Brett and cat, Toasted Marshmallow.