I was super pleased to receive a review copy of debut author Martin Stewart's Riverkeep. The cover of the proof copy lists things like The Wizard of Oz, Ursula Le Guin, Patrick Ness, so obviously I was pretty excited to read it too.
The story follows fifteen-year-old Wulliam, who is about to inherit his father's role as Riverkeep, which involves tending to the river's ice in winter and a lot of fishing out corpses too. A dark spirit possesses his father one night, which sets Wulliam on a journey away from his one know corner of the river, to row down the river's mouth and hopefully find a cure in the belly of a giant sea creature called the mormorach.
It took me stupidly long to get the Wizard of Oz connection, but essentially Wull picks up fellow travellers along the way, each on their own journeys, with their own problems to solve and wisdom to share. I got a really cold and dark and gloomy vibe from this book, with hints of scary unknown magic and terrifying creatures all alone the banks of this icy river. I admit for the first few chapters I was suddenly aware of and then annoyed about the lack of female characters, but this resolves itself pretty quickly and I really felt for Wull and his desperation to complete his journey and exasperation at his fellow travellers.
I can really see a Silvain Chomet animation of this, as Belleville Rendezvous and The Illusionist have similar gloomy, grimy moments, and warm camaraderie moments too. I think the texture of Chomet's animations would really suit this story.
Definitely worth a read if you like stories with some journeying in them! I'd love to see spin off with Mix as the main character so fingers crossed this world gets expanded.
I received a copy of Riverkeep from Penguin Books in return for an honest review. I really liked it I promise!