Author: Aaron Starmer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: Fantasy/pnr/everything untoward
No one’s all right anymore. It’s so unfair. It’s so stupid and so unfair.
Well, whaddaya know? That’s precisely what I was muttering after I finished The Riverman.
Now this here, we have a story of memories, twisted memories, ones not remembered the right way, secret memories, the ones you did remember the right way and yada yada.
Not all memories rot away.
The main players are Alistair Sinclair, Fiona Loomis and Charlie Whatever. There’ll be dangerous men, teenagers with a penchant for destruction, nosy women and the rest of the components of a small, mostly isolated town on the side. It’s a very dark book wherein nothing itself is either gory or perverted, but it’s the writing, the imagery, the atmosphere that’s set that gives it a very grim feeling.
And may just I mention that I loved that?
Fiona Loomis unravels her secrets to Alistair Sinclair, who in turn, tries to find her real story. A mad dance, which involves lots of speculation, skulking around, emotions in turmoil, as Alistair wants to save Fiona from the monster she doesn’t speak about.
There’s this hurried pace that begins to mar the narration as the story moves on; Fiona and Alistair speak in this urgency with all the frustration and desperation that settles down deep in your stomach, and doesn’t let go for days after you’ve finished the book.
Fiona Loomis could be described perfectly in this sentence:
She left reminders of herself, but she didn’t leave herself, and I was sick of it.
Fiona’s been to Aquavania, but she’s not Dorothy, nor Alice. She’s much more than all those put together, but Fiona has a mission. She has to save/warn other kids of Aquavania; if not, she must leave something of herself once the The Riverman‘s taken her, so she asks Alistair Sinclair to write her story. She knows she will have to give in, but not just yet.
Alistair doesn’t want her to give in. Ever. But he himself has secrets he knows not of; memories he has suppressed, despite that he’ll try to convince he remembers everything. Alistair thinks he’s stable; that he’ll be the one to save Fiona, but the fact remains that he’s even more lost than Fiona. Traversing around Fiona’s mines, he unravels his own secrets from the deepest niches of his mind. He’s a loner, with a few friends he spends Halloween with, and a “best friend of convenience,” Charlie. He used to be friends with her, but it’s a classic side effect of growing up.
The fantasy element to The Riverman almost passive, experienced in Fiona’s words, and it’s not the Aquavania setting that sets this book apart, nor is it the best facet of the novel; yet, to be seen, to be explained in words of an addict, you could say, a world where your thoughts give way to reality, where thoughts are reality seems infinitely, dangerously scary. Where a breath of wish becomes a bush baby companion.(Excuse me, but that scene was really creepy.) And to make Wonderland a scary place, sans the inclusion of chains and a grinning mad rabbit, sans deliberation is a mighty feat indeed.
And to have this done before the Riverman, who in itself was a frightening boogie, comes into play.
The setting that does endear the book to me is the small town setting, with all the characters. So many of them, so many made me sad because I loved, fucking loved the teenage dude.
Here are some special quotes that resonated with me, regardless and because of the context.
For today, let’s believe that anything is possible
I didn’t see him as malicious. I saw him as weak, and weakness was something I could forgive.
The ending nearly had me in tears, but I’m so excited to know this is going to be a trilogy. I wouldn’t have guessed from the conclusion, although it’s open-ended. Sooooooo very excited!
[I’m seeing starbursts.]
The Riverman is a story that will mean something different to each reader, treat every one to something new. I hope you find something special in its pages like I did.
…because gone for now is not necessarily gone for good.
Thank you Macmillan’s Children!