The Riverman

The Riverman

Paperback - 2015
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Alistair Cleary is the kid who everyone trusts. 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's a portal that leads to a magical world where a creature called the Riverman is stealing the souls of children. And 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. In this novel from Aaron Starmer, it's up to Alistair to separate fact from fiction, fantasy from reality.

Publisher: New York : Square Fish, 2015
ISBN: 9781250056856


From Library Staff

Fiona Lewis confides in her neighbor, Alistair Cleary, about a magical universe called Aquavania and The Riverman, a creature who resides there and attempts to steal the souls of children. Part of a series.

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SnoIsleLib_ShannonH May 06, 2017

Warning! Turn away if you are afraid of heart-thumping suspense and dark fantasy. This coming-of-age series involves mystery, world building, jumping through dimensions and a very sinister character that will make you want to look over your shoulder. Beautifully written and often whimsical, yet also weird and dark with a complex and captivating plot. Will leave you asking many questions and wanting more.

martha_w Dec 02, 2014

This first volume in a planned children's fantasy trilogy fell a bit flat for me. It's an unusual enough premise involving some sort of creepy magical preditor, but I found myself unable to get into the story and I'm not sure why. The whole book was very weird and a bit surreal, and I'm certain there are a lot of readers this would appeal to, particularly those looking for more unusual fantasy; I just didn't happen to be one of them.

vpl_childrens Aug 15, 2014

This is a dark, atmospheric fantasy adventure that deals with friendship, belief, love and all of the challenges these bring to a 12 year old boy. Not your typical coming of age story, this novel is infused with a sense of foreboding and more questions than answers as Starmer’s exceedingly well crafted characters lead us on Alistair’s well meaning, insightful journey into what could be either a menacing alternate reality or the mind of girl trying to make sense of fear and abuse.

JCLChrisK Aug 11, 2014

This is a mystery book. But is it a fantasy book? That's the mystery. It's certainly a bit horror, creepy and gripping. Someone bad is out there, coming for children, someone called the Riverman. So is the Riverman a magical predator invading a magical land of imagination and stories or a metaphor for someone very real and too horrifying to name directly? Alistair thinks he knows the answer . . . but. But, maybe not. Fiona has entrusted him with her story, and that has changed everything. Now Alistair isn't really sure of anything, and nothing--and no one--seems to be what he thought, not even himself. Is that because the magic of imagination is real--or because it isn't? And which possibility would be preferable?

A masterful book. One that gets beneath the reader's skin, due both to its ominous undertones and to how accurately it captures the feeling that life provides more questions than answers, questions we can't stop asking even when we can't find the answers. Alistair gets caught up in Fiona's story and wants desperately--even at the cost of nearly everything else he holds dear--to do the right things to help her, but can't make sense of things enough to know what or how, and we get obsessively caught up in that quest with him. I want to read this again, more carefully this time instead of rushing to reach the end, then have a good, meaty discussion with someone about it. It doesn't need to provide answers because the questions it raises are so satisfying to consider even as they frustrate. Is this a fantasy? Does it even matter whether it is or isn't? Read for yourself and decide. You'll enjoy the ride.

May 12, 2014

This book has a fascinating premise and a gripping plot. A surreal sense of a foreboding alternate reality and dark family secrets permeates it, as well, calling to mind Twin Peaks. My only quibble would be that the characters seem several years older than they are in the book--they speak and act much more like high school juniors, say, than 7th graders, and their parents treat them as such. Even (especially) the narrator, who is not aging in the alternate universe depicted in the book.


The Riverman may creep you out and make you want to hide under the covers for a good long while, but just TRY to set it down. Can’t be done. And that is what I look for in a book.


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Jul 30, 2015

"The more time you spend with someone, the more you realize that their not perfect. Everyone comes from a different place with different problems."


“Not all memories rot away. Some sprout fungus.”


“Pretending, dear boy, is the definition of sophistication.”


“Wore a cigarette behind his ear, carried a butterfly knife, kept his van stocked with a stack of blankets and a candle in a jar and a jug of something sweet and alcoholic to ease things in his direction.”


“Kids had given up on teasing him back in fifth grade when it became obvious that you can call a guy Captain Catpoop all you want, but if he embraces the name by having it ironed onto his own T-shirt, he basically has you beat.”


Add Age Suitability

Oct 19, 2018

green_cat_6846 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 10 and 16

Becca Levin
Oct 18, 2018

Becca Levin thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over


ELIZABETH RAMSEY BIRD thinks this title is suitable for 11 years and over


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What do you do when the girl next door asks you to write her biography? If you’re Alistair Cleary you’re initially quite flattered. Then, as you hear her story, that sense of pride may begin to fade. When Fiona Loomis informs Alistair that he needs to hear her tale because she regularly escapes to a magical land called Aquavania where a villain called The Riverman is waiting to steal her soul, he’s understandably perturbed. It seems far more likely that the creepy uncle living in her house is the source of these dark fantasies and the boy becomes determined to save her. Yet as more time goes on, Alastair begins to notice unnerving parallels between Aquavania and the small town in which he lives. Parallels that begin to suggest there’s more to Fiona’s story than anyone could possibly imagine.


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