May 13th, 2014 by Nancy
I picked up The Riverman by Aaron Starmer thinking: This is going to be a story about a boy and a girl, about friendship, and by the looks of the cover, maybe something a little spooky or fantastical. And it is. But it’s so much more than that.
The year is 1989, and the town is Thessaly, New York. Alistair Cleary is a pretty normal kid, and his neighbor, Fiona Loomis, is a slightly odd kid. One day, she approaches him to write her biography, which wouldn’t seem that strange except that they’re only 12 and her story doesn’t seem quite real at first:
Fiona claims that in her basement is a portal to Aquavania, a magical world where anything is possible. In her Aquavania, anything she imagines comes true — and she can even visit other kids in their version of Aquavania. She’s stayed in Aquavania for days, weeks, even months — but only a short time will pass in the regular world, Alistair’s world. In Aquavania, everything seems wonderful, except for the Riverman. The Riverman sneaks into Aquavania and steals the souls of children… and those children seem to go missing in the real world too.
This isn’t a typical fantasy story — Alistair and Fiona don’t team up and gather weapons, enter Aquavania, and battle the Riverman. There’s no prophecy to follow, and the Riverman seems impossible to defeat. As much as I would have liked to see Alistair and Fiona kick butt, I loved that this fantasy story blended with the real world — after all, what did happen to Alice when she returned from Wonderland, or the Pevensies when they exited Narnia?
As Alistair learns about Fiona’s story, he’s still hanging out with his friends, working on class assignments, getting ready for Halloween — life goes on in Thessaly, NY. Alistair isn’t sure how much of Fiona’s story is real or fiction… but when she suddenly disappears, he’s left with all the clues she’s left behind — did the Riverman kidnap her, or did she run away? And either way, Alistair’s decided that it’s up to him to save her.
I can’t possibly describe this book in a single blog entry without spoiling too much, so if any of this sounds interesting to you, you should read it! If you’re a fan of Aaron Starmer’s book, The Only Ones, then The Riverman is obviously a must-read! Note: Just like The Only Ones, we recommend this book for kids ages 10+, so if you’re on the fence, ask your parents.
The Riverman is just the first book in a trilogy, and I’m excited to find out what happens next!
Nancy thinks that the Riverman is like the antithesis (opposite) of the BFG. He’s horrible and evil and takes souls instead of gifting dreams.