Review: Riverkeep by Martin Stewart



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.


ARC Review: The Sacrifice Box by Martin Stewart

sacrifice box

The Sacrifice Box

by Martin Stewart

YA Horror, Supernatural

Sep, Arkle, Mack, Lamb and Hadley: five friends thrown together one hot, sultry summer. When they discover an ancient stone box hidden in the forest, they decide to each make a sacrifice: something special to them, committed to the box for ever. And they make a pact: they will never return to the box at night; they’ll never visit it alone; and they’ll never take back their offerings.

Four years later, the gang have drifted apart. Then a series of strange and terrifying events take place, and Sep and his friends understand that one of them has broken the pact.

As their sacrifices haunt them with increased violence and hunger, they realise that they are not the first children to have found the box in their town’s history. And ultimately, the box may want the greatest sacrifice of all: one of them.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a digital ARC of The Sacrifice Box in exchange for an honest review!

The Sacrifice Box was one of the many ARCs I managed to get my hands on all the way back at Deptcon3 and ever since it’s basically been staring at me from my TBR pile, begging to be read. The premise of the book sounded super interesting so I was always going to get to it sooner rather than later, but I’m so glad that I decided to read this because it was so so so good!

I’ll start with how well the atmosphere of the book was crafted. There was an eerie sense threaded throughout which worked really well for the nature of the book. I thought the idea of this sacrifice box that was coming back years later and haunting the five ex-friends was really creepy but super interesting at the same time.

I loved each of the characters and how they differentiated from each other too. Sep was a brilliant narrator, and I loved seeing how his relationship with Hadley, Lamb, Arkle, Mack and even Mario developed. The scenes with the dolls and stuff coming back to life and attacking the five friends were written so well and I found it really hard to put this book down. I would definitely recommend this for fans of Stephen King because it gave me a real It vibe to it, as well as a Stranger Things one. If I had to describe this book in three words it would be: mesmerising, unique and compelling.