Saturday, 23 August 2014

Review: The River Singers by Tom Moorhouse

Publisher: OUP
Format: Paperback / eBook
Released: July 3rd, 2014
Rating: 7/10

Amazon summary:

Something was approaching the burrow. Something deadly. Something that made Sylvan's fur bristle with fear... Knowing their lives are under threat, Sylvan and his brother and sisters have no choice but to abandon their burrow for ever. Together they set out on an epic journey along the Great River; but with dangers lurking at every turn, will they ever find a safe place to call home? 


I went into this book without knowing much about it, only that I liked the cover and it was about water voles. From taking a chance and reading The River Singers, I got a book beautifully written like a timeless classic, brilliant animal characters and some truly lovely illustrations.

When Sylvan's mother goes missing, he finds himself with an unprotected burrow and a family to look after. He sets off on a perilous journey to find a safe new home, accompanied by his brothers and sisters and a few new friends along the way. There's danger lurking in the riverbank, and Sylvan must avoid it all costs.

The River Singers doesn't feature a single human character. Although unusual, this reason alone allows it to remain timeless and unhindered by human technology or advancements. There are only animals - mainly water voles and rats - which gives it the feel of Watership Down or The Wind in the Willows, two classic books that benefitted from having animals as the main characters. It's refreshing to read a children's book written this way, and I have a feeling more novels like this may be on the horizon.

At times this book did seem slow to get going, but journeys and quests can be like that. Sylvan is a great little character filled with bravery and compassion, and I loved him from the beginning. My favourite character, though, was Fodur the rat. He talked like Smeagol and had more heart than most human characters I've read about this year, making him an unforgettable part of The River Singers.

This book will appeal to a wide range of readers - adults feeling nostalgic for classics of their time, animal-loving children, and teenagers who need a break from dying teens and dystopian worlds. The River Singers is unlike anything else I've read recently, both in style and story, and I'm glad to report that there's a sequel, The Rising, due in October 2014. Count me in.

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