Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Riverman.

Starmer, Aaron.  The Riverman.  Macmillan/Farrar Strauss  2014  310p  $15.99  ISBN 978-0-374-36309-3  hs/adult    Fantasy      E-BN 

Truth be told, one cannot describe the subject of this book in a few words.  The convoluted plot is just that, too complex to describe briefly.  In the case of this novel by Aaron Starmer, the job of a reviewer is to demonstrate the magical, enticing nature of the book without telling too much.  Simply stated, the book is compelling.  Readers learn from Fiona Loomis of a place where the Riverman is stealing the souls of children.  She decides to share her story, and chooses her neighbor Alistair to write her biography before her soul disappears.  Alistair, however, cannot accept her belief that her magical place exists, and believes that what he has stumbled upon is an abusive relationship between Fiona and her uncle.  Along the way, Alistair develops real feelings for Fiona, and in a desperate attempt to help, he has a friend’s brother frighten the uncle.  Meanwhile, another relationship develops between Alistair and Charlie, a misfit, a fellow school-mate who is relentless in his demand for Alistair’s attention.  As the reader learns at the end, Charlie is an integral part of the plot, as necessary to the story as Alistair.  The beauty of this book lies in Fiona’s descriptions of the other world into which she escapes periodically, a world called Aquavania, where you can have anything you want by envisioning it--a place where you are the author of your life and where you can escape The Riverman.  The intrigue lies in Alistair’s refusal to accept Fiona’s story as fact.  Are there really fantastical places where one can hide?  Perhaps Fiona’s psyche propelled her as she attempted to escape a troubled life?  The reader moves forward to finish the novel to find out if the fantasy world really exists.  Alistair is truly a believable protagonist; he suffers through broken trusts, psychological trauma, and the pain of not being able to help a loved one.  Readers could not want more in a novel.         

Summary: Fiona weaves a story about a fantasy world to which she escapes periodically.  She decides to share her story with Alistair, hoping she can trust him to capture her life story before she must disappear again to avoid the Riverman, a man she maintains is attempting to steal children’s souls.     

Magic-Fantasy, Stealing of souls-Fiction        --Martha Squaresky

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