The Whisper

368p. (The Riverman Trilogy: Bk. 2). Farrar. Mar. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780374363116; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780374363123.
RedReviewStarGr 6–9—In this second part of the trilogy, Aquavania, a complex web of worlds, is beset by destruction. The Riverman, also known as the Whisper, is destroying worlds by sucking the souls of their creators when they ask for "an end to it all," tired of their own creations and unable to readapt to the real world. When their souls are captured by the Whisper, the kids go missing in the real, or "solid," world. Readers of the first book will enjoy the layers of history of Aquavania, revealed through creation stories that are interpersed between Alistair's quest to find Fiona and battle the Whisper. Meanwhile, newcomers to the series won't be too far behind (there's plenty of exposition woven skillfully through the first few chapters). Readers will savor the (at times) gruesome encounters with monsters, and the unraveling mystery of who Alistair and Fiona really are. The trilogy explores the dark nature of lies—written, told, and enacted—and the surprising pain of truth. Jealousy, revenge, opportunism, and their consequences, also loom large in the lives of characters, be they swimmers (those able to enter and exit portals into different worlds), daydreamers (those who create the worlds), figments (those beings created by the daydreamers), or ciphers (terrifying creatures molded by the Whisper to destroy). Penning something of a cautionary tale, Starmer has constructed a multitude of worlds here, all tied to power of creation, and the boredom that ultimate power ultimately bestows.
VERDICT Ending with a staggering twist, readers adept at navigating this atemporal telling will clamor to get their hands on book three.

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