The Riverman by Aaron Starmer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Twelve-year-old Alistair Cleary lives in a small town in Upstate New York where nothing much happens, until one afternoon, an oddball neighbor named Fiona asks him to write her biography. Her story is not what he expects from the typical middle school student. It’s a tale of a secret world called Aquavania that she visits through her basement and which turns out to be the place where stories are born.
When she later reveals that a monster from Aquavania called the Riverman is stealing children’s souls, Alistair can’t decide whether these are the figments of an overactive imagination or of a deeply troubled mind. Fiona wants to stop the Riverman before he claims another victim, but Alistair starts to believe this is all just a cover story for something worse going on in her home.
What unfolds is a captivating and suspenseful mystery that is both astonishing in its invention and convincing in its attention to detail. The novel combines realism and fantasy and delivers the best of both worlds. The story is a thrilling page-turner as well as a touching heart-wrencher and, like Fiona, is not what you’d expect from the usual middle grade fare.
Through it all, Starmer explores how storytellers are blessed and cursed and how their listeners are either inspired or deceived. I strongly recommend you read this absorbing novel, if only to find out which one is the case for you! For a copy of The Riverman autographed by the author, sign up for the giveaway listed below.
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