The Riverman by Aaron Starmer is a unique story for younger teens or older kids that balances on the border of fantasy and reality, the real world and an imagined one. That’s just one of the reasons that this book reminded me of Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson — there’s the real/imagined world, but also the profound and powerful friendship between a boy and a girl.
The Riverman will keep readers guessing and hoping until the end of the story to find out what happened. Some but not all of their questions will be answered, but since this is part of a trilogy, it’s setting up for a much larger tale. The next book in the series, The Whisper, will be coming out in March!
Fiona and Alistair are very unlikely friends. Sure, they’ve grown up in the same neighborhood and their families used to hang out together when they were kids. But now they’re different. They’ve each grown up in different directions and they have different friends. And then one day Fiona shows up at Alistair’s house and tells him that she wants him to write her biography. Alistair thinks it’s a little weird, but still, he’s flattered to be asked. It means she thinks he’s a good writer and he’s creative.
Fiona starts telling Alistair her life story, and that’s when things go from a little weird to VERY weird. Fiona tells Alistair that she doesn’t spend all of her time in the real world. That sometimes she visits a magical place called Aquavania, where all she has to do is wish for something and it comes true. She can wish for the ability to fly, or for the sky to change colors, or for a magical talking animal to be her friend. And whenever she visits Aquavania, even if she’s spent days or weeks there, when she comes back home it’s like no time passed at all. But as wonderful as Aquavania is, it’s also dangerous. Because there’s a creature there called the Riverman that steals the souls of children. And when he steals their souls in Aquavania, they vanish in real life.
Little by little, Fiona tells her story to Alistair. And little by little, Alistair comes to the conclusion that obviously she’s crazy … or she’s lying. But the more he thinks about it, the more he realizes that something really IS wrong, and that Fiona might be in danger. Whether it’s happening in the real world or in some imaginary place, SOMETHING is threatening Fiona. And it will be up to Alistair to try to save her.