A Blessed Snarl

Long-listed for the 2014 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award


Listed as one of Image‘s Top Ten Works of 2012.

Hailed by The 49th Shelf as one of the “most anticipated” books of 2012.

Featured in Quill & Quire‘s “2012 Spring Preview“.


Click here to hear Sam reading from A Blessed Snarl, or click here to read an excerpt.


 Patrick Wiseman moved his wife and son back to Newfoundland to start a new Pentecostal church, but when his wife Anne leaves him for a man she meets on Facebook and his son Hab moves in with his girlfriend Natalie—a burgeoning alcoholic with a fiery past—Patrick takes a suicidal leap of faith that brings him face to face with his estranged father Des, a Catholic mystic who might be covering up an old crime.

While Patrick wrestles to come to terms with his failed marriage, Hab struggles to hang on to his tenuous relationship with Natalie. But when a woman is almost burned alive in a nearby house fire and a neighborhood drunk is beaten within an inch of life, Hab begins to wonder if Natalie and her housemate Gerry know more than they let on.

What People Are Saying:

“Sam Martin’s A Blessed Snarl is a highly-charged web that wends tightly through belief, love and need — and the human condition of the loss and redemption of all three. Filled with sharply-defined characters whose voices ring as true as a bell, Martin has drawn up a small precise world that can’t help but make you shudder from its depth of raw feeling.”

– Russell Wangersky, award-winning author of The Glass Harmonica and Burning Down the House

“Samuel Thomas Martin is possessed of the ability to spin a good yarn—and also to plumb the depths. In his novels and short fiction he marries canny and satisfying storytelling with a rich and sympathetic investigation of his characters’ interior worlds, all lovingly and convincingly grounded in the land- and seascapes of his native Canada. His critically acclaimed first novel, A Blessed Snarl, is a family saga worthy of the Old Testament.”

– IMAGE, in their March 2013 Artist of the Month feature

” … I was completely absorbed in this book. Often, when a book is as beautifully and carefully crafted as this one is, I find that the language is so literary that it draws attention to itself and away from character and plot, which frustrates me as a reader. In this book, the beauty of Martin’s language, the deep themes he explores, and the intensity of his writing are always in the service of the characters and their stories. They were people about whom I came to care deeply, so that it really mattered to me what happened to them. For me, that’s what matters most.”

Trudy Morgan-Cole, award-winning author of By The Rivers of Brooklyn and That Forgetful Shore

A Blessed Snarl is “so skillfully composed it is an effortless read, and a gripping one. The dialogue is spot-on and events unfold with realism and momentum. [This novel] is a merging, even collision, of the high and low, saints and back alleys, bile and grace. It is crafted with compression and compactness. It shows a gritty urban world. But one where there is humour, generosity and mercy.”

-Joan Sullivan, The Telegram (St. John’s)

“[A Blessed Snarl] demolishes categories, while refining them. It is a Canadian novel; a postmodern novel; a Christian novel; a good novel.”

-Brian Dijkema, The Cardus Daily

“There are a lot of correspondences between the fiction of Canada’s East Coast and that of the American South, and this ambivalence – a desire to break free and a yearning to return home – is one of the most significant. Steeped in the voices, weather, art, economy, and spirituality of the place, Martin has written a novel very much in the Newfoundland grain.”

-Alex Good, Quill and Quire

“As in This Ramshackle Tabernacle, winter, cold and raw, crackling with energy and power yet also bleak, takes hold and serves as a fitting background for the darkness, whether spiritual, emotional, or physical, through which the characters must wend their ways. This human struggle, what Martin seeks to portray most of all, is explored in a remarkably sensitive, observant manner, and is often gritty, disturbing, nerve-wracking, and heartbreaking but also breathtakingly satisfying.”

Bella’s Bookshelves

“The novel is painterly, patiently-applied imagery colouring in the story behind the story. […] I can be critical. Friends who raved about The Help were surprised I was blasé about it. I loved Mary Lawson’s first book, Crow Lake; I found her second, The Other Side of the Bridge, predictable and disappointing. But when I read a thoughtful novel like A Blessed Snarl, I simply stand and applaud. I might even be tempted to call Martin’s accomplishment anointed.”

-Cathy Smith, The Christian Courier

“Martin’s fiction is reminiscent of that of Melanie Rae Thon—both writers craft prose that filters light into the darkest, most desperate narratives and picks up glints of enduring hope. Despite the heaviness of the material, Martin’s fine hand with characterization makes moments of longed-for reunion ring true.”


“Martin has a commendable knack for capturing the emotional turmoil of his characters’ lives.”

-Chad Pelley, The Telegram


An interview with Julie Wilson and a MP3 of me reading from A Blessed Snarl over at the 49th Shelf.



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