“We, The Drowned had me at title and lived up to it's promise. The Drowned narrate a tale of the lives and deaths of Marstal, a small Danish seafaring town. They bare witness to lives lead under the influence of the majesty and tyranny of the sea - the freedom and cruelty found in sailing, the grief and fear of being left behind to raise the children, the uncertainty of growing up barely knowing a father who may or may not return from each voyage, only to follow in his footsteps at the ripe old age of 13.
Jensen shows both sides of the lives of Marstal, and his story moves from land to ship, following the lives of several Marstalers over the course of a century. There is war but little peace, as the lives of the men in the town are always in peril on the sea. His characters are rich and very human and the voice of The Drowned treats them with familiarity and honesty. In a story that includes cannibals, shrunken heads, torpedoes, prophetic dreams, and a woman at war with the sea, nothing seems contrived because The Drowned show us that the sea is a place where anything can happen. It doesn't need mermaids and monsters to be magical, cruel and unpredictable.
Carsten Jensen has written a book that captures the magic of the sea and torment of being left behind in uncertainty with a voice that is at the same time unique and familiar. It makes We, The Drowned both an exciting and emotionally engaging tale. The pace of the book changes throughout, from exciting fights for survival to subtly plotting a cruel end to an era, but it never lost my interest. The fluctuations seemed appropriate for a story about a town that lives two lives, on sea and on shore. I'm giving it 5 stars and it may become a favorite. It is certainly the best book I've read this year. ”