The Danek is a wild, treacherous river, and the Fobisher family has tended it for generations--clearing it of ice and weed, making sure boats can get through, and fishing corpses from its bleak depths. Read more...
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The Danek is a wild, treacherous river, and the Fobisher family has tended it for generations--clearing it of ice and weed, making sure boats can get through, and fishing corpses from its bleak depths. Wulliam's father, the current Riverkeep, is proud of this work. Wull dreads it. And in one week, when he comes of age, he will have to take over.
Then the unthinkable happens. While recovering a drowned man, Wull's father is pulled under--and when he emerges, he is no longer himself. A dark spirit possesses him, devouring him from the inside. In an instant, Wull is Riverkeep. And he must care for his father, too.
When he hears that a cure for his father lurks in the belly of a great sea-dwelling beast known as the mormorach, he embarks on an epic journey down the river that his family has so long protected--but never explored. Along the way, he faces death in any number of ways, meets people and creatures touched by magic and madness and alchemy, and finds courage he never knew he possessed.
Martin Stewart's debut novel is an astonishing blend of the literary, the comedic, and the emotionally resonant. In a sentence, it's The Wizard of Oz as told by Patrick Ness. It marks the beginning of a remarkable career.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-05-09
- Reviewer: Staff
Debut novelist Stewart creates a fantastical world packed with magic and monsters, set on the fictional shores of the Danék River. Wulliam, 15, is to become the new Riverkeep, a job that generations of men in his family have done without complaint. Though an obedient child, Wull plans on running away before he can take up the oars of the family bäta and follow in his father’s footsteps of keeping the river free of corpses. After Pappa is attacked by a bohdan, which inhabits the bodies of its victims, Wull attempts to save his father by going after the mormorach, an enormous, magical aquatic creature that might hold a cure. Stewart assembles a slew of imaginative and memorable characters, including Mix, a stowaway girl with strange markings on her barklike skin; Tillinghast, a “not technic’ly alive” homunculus made from human parts; and Remedie, a witch who hopes to bring her wooden child back to life. Filled with wild adventure and hilarious dialogue (Tillinghast has a particularly saucy mouth), this vivid, engrossing fantasy will delight readers, even those who occasionally find the dialect tricky to navigate. Ages 12–up. Agent: Molly Ker Hawn, Bent Agency. (July)
Down by the river
The Fobisher men have been tending the river for generations, keeping it clear of ice and weeds and hauling corpses from its depths. As soon as Wulliam turns 16, he will become the new Riverkeep. But, just a few days before his birthday, Wull’s father is pulled underwater, and when he surfaces, he’s no longer himself. Wull sets out in search of the mysterious sea-dwelling creature that may hold the key to saving his father.
Martin Stewart’s debut novel, inspired by the real-life Glasgow rivermen, is equal parts adventure, magic and a sweet tribute to growing up. New companions Mix and Tillinghast—who immediately throw Wull off course by claiming seats on his boat—add a necessary touch of comedy and camaraderie.
Stewart’s sharp prose fluctuates between laugh-out-loud funny and seriously poignant as Wull reconciles his sense of duty with his deep-seated yearning to help others. Though the narrative drags occasionally through convoluted subplots, Riverkeep is a perfect read for teens looking for a bit of adventure to end their summers.