Rage the Night by Donna Morrissey

Rage the Night is classic Donna Morrissey, the kind of story that fans expect from her and will devour. Rage the Night is set in Newfoundland, in 1914, centered around 20-year-old Roan. Roan was orphaned and knows nothing about who he is or where he comes from. He lives at the orphanage, has high-quality schooling in Boston and is expected to follow in his benefactor’s footsteps and become a rural doctor to the sick and poor. The story begins with a deathbed confession, that sets him on a journey to find out who he is and leads to him ending up on the Newfoundland, an old and unsuited for the conditions ship that heads out on the ice fields to hunt seals. He is following members of his “family” even though he has not yet put together all the pieces. The tragedy of the Newfoundland sealing ship is a true one and was a very devastating part of Canadian history to explore that I hadn’t really known about before.
Roan grows as a person and takes strides to find out answers about himself that he is missing. He chases rumours and puts up with secrecy trying to find out if he belongs anywhere or if he can grow to love what he is. It is both beautiful and tragic and often the story physically left me feeling cold, imagining myself stuck on an ice field. There are some wonderful by’s, imaginative character descriptions and a brotherhood that seeps off the pages.

“Living these days among a brotherhood that breeds such courage out of misery that things seem possible.”

This is a novel that breathes empathy, imagining yourself in the shoes of these men. Morrissey is a master of the dramatic mood and setting the scene. Seal hunting was a way out of poverty, and you can feel that not many people had much of a choice. The greed of the other world is there, and yes, inspires rage. This novel gave me a great view of Newfoundland in the 1910s in a way I hadn’t imagined.
This novel would appeal to those who like historical Canadian events, Newfoundland tales, or just beautiful writing that hits you to your core. These are some horrific events, coming from greed, miscommunication and poverty that make you want to look away, but need to be looked at. In many ways this novel can connect to today, the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. When will things ever change?