River of Ink 1: Genesis by Helen Dennis

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River of Ink 1: Genesis by Helen Dennis

Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Fast-paced mystery thriller using ancient tropes. Well-rounded characters and lots of satisfying action.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 368 Date: January 2016
Publisher: Hodder
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 144492043X

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Some people believe that when you drown, your whole life flashes before you. The boy in the river saw only bottles, driftwood and the dented licence plate of a foreign car. Not his life. But he knew for certain that he was drowning.

But River Boy doesn't drown. He holds on. And when he washes up on the banks of the Thames, something propels him to St Paul's Cathedral, where Reverend Solomon finds him, drenched, bedraggled, wild-eyed and wordless. After several days in hospital, River Boy remains unable to find his voice. Or his memory. Who is this boy? Why was he in the Thames? Will anyone claim him? What are the strange signs he obsessively draws?

Meanwhile, Kassia is also struggling. Since her father died, she has been home-schooled by her obsessive, helicoptering mother, who wants Kassia to become a doctor. Kassia wants to become a doctor too, but she is increasingly worn down by her mother's ridiculously high standards. But it's not in her to rebel openly, whatever brother Dante says.

Linking the two lost teenagers is Nat - River Boy's doctor and Kassia's uncle. And Nat sees an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone: if River Boy is fostered by Kassia's family, it will protect him from the media onslaught over a mysterious foundling and give Kassia a break from endless study...

...but of course, it really isn't that simple. Jed, as River Boy decides to call himself, has a past. And that past is intertwined with an ancient search that will put him - and Kassia - into present danger.

This is the first of a new series by Helen Dennis, who is also H L Dennis of Secret Breakers fame. We enjoyed that code-breaking series and, while River of Ink is for older readers, it has a similar feel. It's a fast-paced adventure with some satisfyingly nasty villains and lots of symbols and clues to follow along its twisting, turning path. It takes the reader back in time with tales of alchemists and potions, but it's firmly rooted in the present.

There's a lot to like in the characters. Jed is plagued by visions and can't be certain whether they are dreams, fantasies or returning memories. This makes him unpredictable but you like him and trust in his fundamental decency, even when he's making mistakes. And you feel for Kassia, who is being railroaded into a life path by her demanding mother and who is constantly torn between duty and asserting her own wants and needs. The friendship that develops between the two is tremendously touching and relatable.

There's plenty of action, the characters are well-rounded and credible, and the whole thing is given depth by some complex family dynamics. I think this series will do well, especially among fans of mystery thrillers.

If you like the idea of a modern adventure using ancient tropes, you could also look at Ghost Chamber by Celia Rees or The Glittering Eye by LJ Adlington .

Buy River of Ink 1: Genesis by Helen Dennis at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy River of Ink 1: Genesis by Helen Dennis at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy River of Ink 1: Genesis by Helen Dennis at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy River of Ink 1: Genesis by Helen Dennis at Amazon.com.


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