Book Review: The Riverman by Aaron Starmer

The Riverman by Aaron Starmer is a middle grade to young adult novel. Alistair Cleary is the kid everyone trusts while Fiona Loomis is not the typical girl next door. Alistair hasn't really thought of her since they were little kids until she shows up at his doorstep with a proposition: she wants him to write her biography. What begins as an odd vanity project gradually turns into a frightening glimpse into the mind of a potentially troubled girl. Fiona says that in her basement there is a portal that leads to a magical world where a creature called the Riverman is stealing the souls of children. Fiona’s soul could be next. If Fiona really believes what she’s saying, Alistair fears she may be crazy. But if it’s true, her life could be at risk. Could the story be hiding problems, or are her tales of a the other world real?

The Riverman is a multi layered story about kids finding themselves, facing problems bigger than themselves, and the notion of reality. Alistair is an average kid, with a few friends and the trust of just about everyone around him. He is creative, but not so much to normally attract attention. Fiona has noticed, and wants his to write her story, which she shares with him in bits and pieces. He tales of another world are both wonderful and terrifying as the threat of the Riverman and the possibility of who he might be in the real world become clearer. The build up and execution of the mystery/suspense involved in the story was nearly perfect. There was a good balance of suspicion that the world Fiona spoke about was real versus the possibility that she was hiding from something in her home above all else. The story had me hooked and turning pages quickly. I was a little disappointed in the conclusion, mainly because it was a bit subjective and left in the air. Most of the loose ends were tied up, but there were still some open ended questions.

I would recommend The Riverman to readers that enjoy fantasy, mystery, and coming of age stories. Alistair has much growth within the story and the story is greatly compelling. Readers of the middle grade to young adult persuasions would enjoy this story- as long as they are not easily frustrated by an ambiguous ending.

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