Disclosure: I received a free pre-release copy of The Rathbones by Janice Clark courtesy of Doubleday, via GoodReads First Reads.
The Rathbones is a hypnotic, surreal story of a family whose lives and history are so irrevocably bound to the sea and whaling that their entire lives are lived in an epic oceanic metaphor, even the young protagonist Mercy, who has previously not been on a sea voyage. Mercy's search to find traces of her lost family members brings out a dream-like narrative of multiple complex meanings, both to Mercy and to the reader. The character's name repeated throughout the novel seems like a distress call ("Mercy!") but exactly what Mercy wants to be saved from, she herself must decide as she moves forward from the Rathbone legacy towards her own destiny. Despite this novel's length, Janice Clark's storytelling prowess and seamless use of thematic language make it smooth sailing from one page to the next.
Fans of Barbara Kingsolver will particularly enjoy this fanciful family epic, which is stylistically similar to The Poisonwood Bible.