Review: ‘Riverkeep’ by Martin Stewart

25883016.jpgThe Danék 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.

[Goodreads]

Book details

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Viking

ISBN: 9780141362038

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Review

With his sixteenth birthday fast approaching, the last thing Wulliam wants to do is take up his family’s mantle of Riverkeep, burdened with the lonely task of taming an uncontrollable force. Yet his chance at a stable future capsizes when his father is pulled into the depths and possessed by a dark spirit. With the only known cure supposedly hidden in a sea-beast called the mormorach, Wull must embark on a treacherous journey that will require endless patience, courage, and trust in an unlikely group of travelling companions.

If Stewart’s intention was to copy characters and scenes from The Wizard of Oz and stick them onto a Moby Dick-inspired backdrop, while trying his best to mimic the style of Patrick Ness, it seems he was successful. Unfortunately, the result is about as disastrous as you’d expect. Characters that might have been charming are lost in a sea of meaningless mini-quests and plot twists that left me either disinterested or frustrated, and I couldn’t help but wonder on numerous occasions whether the author was trying to make me fall asleep.

Perhaps this book’s greatest downfall is that Stewart can’t quite master the lightly entertaining yet powerful writing style his epic adventure tale demands if it’s to keep young adult audiences interested. Overall, this was simply a dull read.

2 stars

Rating: 2/5

Recommended to: Insomniacs

This review was also posted on Writers Write’s review page.

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