The Whisper

The Whisper

Paperback - 2016
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Twelve-year-old Alistair Cleary has washed up on shore. But where? It seems to be Aquavania, the magical realm where children create entire worlds from their imagination. There's something wrong, though. The creators have disappeared and the worlds are falling apart. All Alistair wants is to find his friend Fiona Loomis and go home. Easier said than done. Animals made of starlight, a megalomaniacal boy king, and astronauts who peddle riddles are hard enough to outwit, but they're only the beginning. To find Fiona, Alistair must travel from world to world. He must confront the mistakes of his past. And he must face countless monsters, including the soul-stealing stalker that some people call the Riverman, the merciless but misunderstood servant of Aquavania who refers to himself as the Whisper.

The Whisper by Aaron Starmer is the second book in the middle grade Riverman Trilogy.

Publisher: New York : Square Fish, 2016
ISBN: 9781250073365
1250073367

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JCLChrisK Mar 09, 2016

This series. Wow. So different and unexpected than most everything else out there. And this second book that is so unexpectedly different than the first, that reframes and deepens and changes The Riverman as it expands that book's universe exponentially.

In my review of The Riverman I wrote, This is a mystery book. But is it a fantasy book? That's the mystery. That's because Alistair was an observer in the first book, slowly drawn into caring about a strange world that might have been a fantasy horror and might have been a psychological thriller--with drastic consequences either way.

Now Alistair knows which it is, because he has gone from observer to participant, from watcher to doer. He has entered the fantasy horror. His role has changed, his perspective has changed, his setting has changed. He is still in pursuit of Fiona, but now it's in a fluid land of myth and stories and imagination. Anything a twelve-year-old mind might conjure can exist in Aquavania, and most of it does. The place has rules, but Alistair knows none of them. He has to figure out how to negotiate the ever varied and changing landscape in the hopes of achieving his goals--one of which has become simply getting home. And, as in The Riverman, his ex-best friend Charlie has a much larger role to play than Alistair ever expected.

Also as in that first book, this is a journey of discovery. It is a mystery, because the more we learn, the more we realize we know less than ever.

These are beautifully written, intricately plotted and layered books that never condescend to their middle grade audience. Teens and adults would enjoy them just as much, I believe. They are the kind of books that want repeat reading, because you know you will learn and understand so much more the second and third times through.

I only wish they had covers that better did them justice, because those don't compel engagement nearly as much as the contents they contain.

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