by Martin Stewart
YA Fantasy, Adventure
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.
I am so conflicted about this book. I’ve had it in my TBR for so long but for some reason it took me ages to get around to it. I read Stewart’s other book, The Sacrifice Box, a few years ago and i absolutely loved it. But this book, even the style of his writing felt so different. It was not a debut I can hold fondly, and that is the truth.
Riverkeep has a really interesting story. It’s about this dark and terrifying river that has all kinds of secrets and Wull is the one who keeps care of the river. When Wull’s father is possessed by this dark spirit, it is up to him to take on a journey down the river to find an ancient monster, the mormorach, that could possibly cure his father. And along the way, we meet a wonderful and erratic cast of characters.
The characters were definitely the thing I enjoyed about this book – and maybe the only thing. They were all so different and each had their own stories and complexities that made them interesting. Stewart’s characters, similar to his sophomore novel, are the strength of his novel.
As for the writing itself, I wasn’t a fan of the style. It seemed really disjointed to me and it was hard for me to really connect to what was going on in the story. I found myself often skimming any of the large paragraphs which I should definitely not be doing! I always take this as a sign that when I’m not desperate to read every line, then I’m not captivated enough.
Personally I wouldn’t recommend this book, but if you want to check out Martin Stewart then read The Sacrifice Box – I really enjoyed that.