ARC Review: Riverkeep by Martin Stewart


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synThe 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.

review

3.5/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift via Penguin’s First to Read 

Riverkeep is a dark and gritty surprise.

Intense, it drags you down into its dark depths and introduces you to unlikely monsters that can be found within ourselves and our surroundings. Full of lore, an unconventional protagonist, and sweeping imagery, it will hold you captive until the last page.

A little slow to start, it takes a bit to get into the story, but once you do, it’s a continuous adventure.

Wull in bumbling, uncertain, and makes mistakes. Despite his intriguing and slightly disturbing profession, he’s surprisingly normal and easy to relate to. Everyone can recognize that primal need to impress their parents and the fierce love you have for them despite their flaws (though in Wull’s case, it’s way more intense and complicated than that). No matter how hard he tries, it seems like he’s destined for failure and can’t live up to his father’s image. It’s funny and a little heartbreaking, but Wull finds his own strengths and takes risks when he needs to.

The self-discovery is poignant.

The Scottish lore creatures. Wow. Crazy violent and oh so interesting. At first, it’s hard to know what they are and what exactly is being referred to. The preludes to each chapter introduce the creatures but initially you’re grasping for straws to figure out just what these beasts are and where they came from.

The atmosphere and mood are immense and consuming. The world building intricate and extensive. The story is a coming of age in a way that honors epic tales like Gilgamesh and Beowulf without the politics.

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Epic Reading, 

Jordan

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3 thoughts on “ARC Review: Riverkeep by Martin Stewart

    • I only say a comp to An Ember in the Ashes for the later half of the book. It takes a while to get started and for the protagonist to grow, but when he does, it’s there. Plus the lore-rich creatures…there’s a dark sort of ruthlessness there as well.

      Liked by 1 person

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