Book Review: GONE TO SEE THE RIVER MAN by Kristopher Triana

It’s no secret that this past month I’ve been in a reading and writing slump. This past week or so, things have been ramping up, but I was still missing that spark needed to ignite the fire. That all changed once I read GONE TO SEE THE RIVER MAN, and now my passion for reviewing is back to full-blown bonfire level.

At 70% through this book, I told myself I’d sleep, and finish reading in the morning. That didn’t happen, as I couldn’t stop thinking about it. So, I finished it all in one evening, and I’m not sorry. This story grabbed me and did not let go. It’s heavy. At one point, I felt like I was going to choke on the emotion within its pages. I mean that as a compliment to the author in every way. I want books to make me feel, no matter the emotion, and this one left my shoulders heavy with the weight of grief, shame, and guilt.

 

Kristopher Triana has developed a strong cast of characters in this novel, but none leave an impact like Lori. No spoilers here—let me just tell you that I felt complicit in her actions, as I looked on, unable to turn away. This book went beyond my expectations based on the synopsis. The “River Man” and every other character will linger in my mind for some time to come. This story is terrifying in its portrayal of humanity. It’s saturated with secrets and shame, all of which take a toll on the characters as well as the reader. This book is an experience in the best sense of the word.

While I found some of the scenes to be gut-wrenching and uncomfortable, none of the content ever felt gratuitous. There’s depth and intent to this story. I love how it alternates between past and present in a seamless fashion, giving the reader a glimpse into the characters’ past, but only in small doses. As you read, you peel back the layers of the past. On the surface, this seems like a tale of obsession, but what begins as such becomes so much more. Delving into the characters’ motives and their psychological damage kept me hanging onto every word.

This was my first read from Triana, and what an introduction! The horror of humanity is often more frightening than any creatures one can conjure with the mind. This book is heartbreaking and haunting from beginning to end, and has claimed a spot on my Best of 2020 list.

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