The 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.
Riverkeep didn’t have it easy with me. Because of descriptions like “it’s The Wizard of Oz as told by Patrick Ness” I had pretty high expectations. I’m glad that after a short bumpy start, I enjoyed Riverkeep a whole lot and I’ll definitely reread it sooner rather than later.
I can definitely see why it’s compared to Patrick Ness. Wull made me think of Ness’ Todd a lot and I don’t mean in the way, that they seem too similar but the obstacles in their way and how they handle it are similar. I really like this kind of character that has a hard time and a lot to deal with so that you can’t but love them and hope the best for them, but at the same time they aren’t always handling the situation in the best of ways and if they weren’t these sweet, sad boys, you would judge them for it and that’s what makes them feel so real.
I don’t know if this was intended by the author, but Wull’s father’s condition made me think of Alzheimer’s. I don’t even care if this indirect representation of Alzheimer’s was intentional or not, either way, I was happy that this was the first time ever, that I saw this illness not used as a stupid way to keep secrets but was rightfully represented in a way that felt familiar to me. Even if Martin Stewart didn’t even mean for this to be about Alzheimer’s, I’m glad to have found a story where I could interpret it as that.
Wull and his father’s story was both wonderful and heartbreaking. I loved every single character they met on their journey. Together they definitely made a unique bunch, each with their very own sad story. I couldn’t do anything but cheer for them all and hope they would all get their happy ending.
The world of Riverkeep is magical. I was almost sad that I couldn’t explorer it even more. This is the home of many different creatures, every single one of them utterly fascinating.
It took me a while to get into the story, but once I did, I fell in love with this world and its characters. Martin Stewart wrote a beautiful story that made me want more. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.
Jolien @ The Fictional Reader
This sounds like such an intriguing read! I’d never heard of heard of it before reading your review, but I’ll definitely add it to my to-read list now. A treacherous river, a demon taking over his father, and the fact that you loved the characters and world? Definitely have to pick that up as well. Great review :)
Kyra @ Blog of a Bookaholic
The characters sound lovely! It’s always important for me to form an attachment to characters when I read a book and I think that would definitely happen in this book. Also, I’ve been on the lookout for a new fantasy read! Great review! :)
I’m so glad this one ended up working out! Your comparison of Wull to Todd automatically makes me want to read it, of course. That and “wonderful but heartbreaking,” haha. I’m also curious about Wull’s father and if I would see his condition the same way you did. You’re right that Alzheimer’s is often used as a convenient way to set up a mystery.
I hate it when blurbs include comparison to popular books. It sets my expectations yet usually just end up getting disappointed. Nice to know you still enjoyed this! The characters sound great and the world seems interesting. Great review!
Same! Especially when the compare it to one of my favorite authors! I never expect to get to read something that’s actually similar, but I do have high expectations because of it.