This fast paced, action packed tale follows Wulliam as he tries to save his father from a creature that has taken over his body.
Wull is a 15-year-old boy, just shy of his 16th birthday. He lives with his Pappa on the river Danek, where they keep the river running smoothly; they break up the ice, they clear the weeds and they fish the corpses out of the water. It’s not an easy life, but Wull’s Pappa loves his job and he is proud of his son who will take over as Riverkeep when he turns 16. During a routine body pick up, Wull’s Pappa is pulled from the boat and into the depths of the Danek. Will returns home on his own and while contemplating his loss, who should walk up the jetty and into their house, but his Pappa. Not all is what it seems and Wull quickly realises that his Pappa isn’t quite right. After hearing of a possible cure in the form of a once thought mythical creature he packs up what’s left of his Pappa and embarks on a life threatening mission.
He checked the bonds on Pappa’s wrists – they would hold. Fat, dirty fingers grabbed at his. Pappa met his eyes as he stood, but they were not Pappa’s eyes; clouded by milk and fury they belonged to some hunted thing, not the man who had bounced Wull on his knee and whispered stories to him in bed.
The book is definitely action packed and moves from one event to another very quickly. Poor Wull is thrown in the deep end, with a paddle, and his mission keeps getting waylaid by all of the side characters, who have weird magical origins. We don’t get a lot of explanation, they are kind of just thrown into the mix and Wull has to help them along the way, or so he thinks, they all seem to be there to help him. The action and events were so fast paced, that they lacked any depth, there was no emotion or feeling, it was a case of – “Wull rowed his bata here and fought this and then Wull rowed his bata there and this person helped him and then he went here and got lost and someone had to save him again.” It made it a touch boring and it was hard to get into. The writing was also a touch repetitive, I would hate to have to count how many times the word Pappa was used.
Lets talk about Wull for just a second. He is whiney as fuck. By the end of the book he irritated the shit out of me. I know that he grew, that’s great. He learns some lessons and might even turn into a kick arse human being, but at the moment he is a judgemental, little shit who quite literally would have got absolutely nowhere and would have died if it wasn’t for those around him. Look away, spoiler alert coming up…… You have been warned… The Hay man had more character growth and was more likeable than Wull. Yep, you read that right a man, made of herbs, hay and other people’s body parts had more character growth than an actual human.
On another note, it’s marketed as YA and this may be a case of me getting it wrong, but I always assumed YA meant it’s for 16 and over, where I feel this is more suited to a younger crowd. I would give this to my 12yr old to read if her bookshelves weren’t already overflowing.
For me, this book had potential. I liked the writing, but the plot fell short. All of the different bits of legend and magic where interesting, but with so much going on in such a short amount of time, nothing was explored the way I would have liked. This is ultimately a tale of family, friendship and finding yourself. I would also like to point out that I wasn’t nearly as negative about it when I started writing the review compared to when I finished it. Maybe the moral of this review is don’t think about it too much while you are reading it or reviewing it.