Riverkeep by Martin Stewart
The Danék River has always been there, like a dark and silent third member of Wull’s little family. For years, Wull’s father has taught his son the arts of the Riverkeep – how to tend the lamps and keep the surface clear of ice, and how to fish out dead bodies. Then, one night, the Danék takes another victim: Wull’s father is dragged under, only to return a changed man. Slowly the realisation dawns on Wull that the thing that came back is not his father. Now Wull must set out in search of a way to bring his real father home.
With its dead bodies and evil spirits, you might be forgiven for thinking that Riverkeep is a horror story, and there are definitely a few hair-raising moments. But the world Martin Stewart has crafted makes for a rich, fantasy epic brimming with imagination and life. Time and time again I was reminded of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series, since both share the same scope and originality. If you have a reader aged 12 and up who enjoys the challenge of an excellent speculative tale, don’t pass this one by.
Holly Harper is a children’s bookseller and author who blogs for the Readings website.