Whalefall

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The Martian meets 127 Hours in this “smart, surreal, and powerfully humane” (Owen King, New York Times bestselling author) thriller about a scuba diver who’s been swallowed by an eighty-foot, sixty-ton sperm whale and has only one hour to escape before his oxygen runs out.

Jay Gardiner has given himself a fool’s errand—to find the remains of his deceased father in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Monastery Beach. He knows it’s a long shot, but Jay feels it’s the only way for him to lift the weight of guilt he has carried since his dad’s death by suicide the previous year.

The dive begins well enough, but the sudden appearance of a giant squid puts Jay in very real jeopardy, made infinitely worse by the arrival of a sperm whale looking to feed. Suddenly, Jay is caught in the squid’s tenacles and drawn into the whale’s mouth where he is pulled into the first of its four stomachs. He quickly realizes he has only one hour before his oxygen tanks run out—one hour to defeat his demons and escape the belly of a whale.

Suspenseful and cinematic, Whalefall is an “astoundingly great” (Gillian Flynn, New York Times bestselling author) thriller about a young man who has given up on life…only to find a reason to live in the most dangerous and unlikely of places.

LA TIMES BOOK PRIZE FINALIST

WINNER OF THE ALEX AWARD

A NEW YORK TIMES BEST BOOK OF 2023

A USA TODAY BESTSELLER

A PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BESTSELLER

AN NPR BEST BOOK OF 2023

AN AMAZON BEST BOOK OF 2023

CHICAGO TRIBUNE TOP 10 BOOK OF 2023

A BOOKRIOT BEST BOOK OF 2023

A SHELF AWARENESS TOP 10 BOOK OF 2023

PASTE MAGAZINE BEST HORROR BOOK OF 2023

INDIE NEXT LIST AUGUST 2023

LIBRARY READS LIST AUGUST 2023

BLOODY DISGUSTING’S #1 HORROR BOOK OF 2023

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BOOKLIST EDITORS’ CHOICE

2024 ILLINOIS READS CHOICE

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“A crazily enjoyable beat-the-clock adventure story about fathers, sons, guilt, and the mysteries of the sea. Kraus brings the rigor of a scientist and the sensibility of a poet. I was absolutely gripped.”

THE NEW YORK TIMES

“An absolute triumph, a masterpiece of suspense, emotion, and flat-out terror that’s not just one of the year’s best horror novels, but arguably the best thing Daniel Kraus has ever written. A pulse-pounding, stunning achievement.”

PASTE MAGAZINE

“STUNNING. A sensory epic. Kraus turns the literal guts of this novel into a haunted house, a torture chamber, a church, and a uterus for belated rebirth. There is nothing else quite like Whalefall.”

NEW SCIENTIST

“⭐️ The pacing is relentless, the awe, astounding, and the tension, palpably constricting.” (starred review)

BOOKLIST

“⭐️ A nerve-wracking tale of survival…viscerally intense and claustrophobic, even as [it] grapples with real and raw emotions.” (starred review)

LIBRARY JOURNAL

“Remember this title: Whalefall. It should make Kraus a star. I read it, luxuriated in it, and I could not stop reading it.”

CHICAGO TRIBUNE

“Propulsive and gripping, a superb reimagining of Jonah’s tale that cements Kraus as one of the most creative and versatile voices in contemporary speculative fiction.”

LOCUS MAGAZINE

“A deft pairing of a ticking-clock thriller and an incisive portrait of a father-son relationship.”

CHICAGO READER

“One of the most intense — and moving — stories that will grace the bookstores in 2023. What Daniel Kraus has created here is something that can’t be quantified.”

CEMETERY DANCE

“There’s undeniable horror…but there’s a subtler horror at work here as well: one born of grief, guilt, resentment, unresolved childhood trauma, and suddenly facing all of that while confronting one’s mortality. The book’s greatest strength is in how Kraus intertwines and interweaves the two.”

RUE MORGUE

“Unforgettable…begs to be read in a single sitting as it produces an unpredictable and satisfying ending.”

BOOKREPORTER

“ASTOUNDINGLY GREAT. Whalefall is, quite simply, a beautiful novel—a must-read story of the sea, the nature of awe, and the briny relationships between fathers and sons.”

GILLIAN FLYNN, Gone Girl

“Brave, bold, epic, propulsive. Whalefall is a deeply moving thriller that holds a planet’s worth of hope in the pit of its stomach.”

JOSHUA FERRIS, Then We Came to the End

“The primordial nightmare at the core of Whalefall is fantastically gripping. A character study developed in the most intense crucible imaginable, Kraus’s latest novel is smart, surreal, and powerfully humane.”

OWEN KING, Sleeping Beauties

“A MASTERPIECE. I haven’t felt so alive reading a book in a long, long time.”

ALISSA NUTTING, Made for Love

“One of our oldest stories, one of our greatest fears, and one of our most capable writers. Stranger things than being swallowed by a whale have probably happened, but they’ve rarely been told so well.”

STEPHEN GRAHAM JONES, The Only Good Indians

Whalefall is a mind-blowing, take-your-breath-away adventure tale, but it’s also a tender and moving story of the relationship of a father and son. DANIEL KRAUS CAN DO ANYTHING, AND DOES.”

DAN CHAON, Ill Will

“Unexpectedly emotional and wildly entertaining, Whalefall is the tense revamp of Jonah’s tale you didn’t know you needed.”  

GABINO IGLESIAS, The Devil Takes You Home

“A brutal, unsparing, wildly uplifting book. The sheer buoyancy had me BREATHLESS by the end.”

CLAY MCLEOD CHAPMAN, Ghost Eaters, Wendell & Wild

“A page-turning, hold-your-breath man-vs-nature thrill ride…but also a gripping exploration of the unnavigable relationship between parent and child. It’s an anguished cry from the depths of that struggle. Bravo!”

CHRISTOPHER GOLDEN, New York Times bestselling author of Road of Bones and All Hallows

“ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS I’VE READ IN THE LAST DECADE. Better than Jaws, a Moby-Dick for this generation.”

SADIE HARTMANN, Night Worms
Photo by Virginia Kemp