cover image The Snowmelt River

The Snowmelt River

Frank P. Ryan. Quercus/Fletcher (Random, dist.), $15.95 (720p) ISBN 978-1-62365-048-3

In this weighty epic adventure, first in a projected four-volume series, British author Ryan sends four teenage orphans on a perilous quest that stretches across multiple worlds. Alan, Kate, Mark, and Mo are brought together by seeming coincidence in a small Irish town, but events soon suggest a greater purpose is at work. They’re drawn to conduct a ritual that catapults them into a war-torn world of magic and strange creatures. There, they discover hidden abilities, grand destinies yet to be fulfilled, and people in need of saving. As the four journey through the perilous landscape, they’re torn apart and forced to survive on their own. Strong points include ambitious world-building and a sweeping scope, steeped in Celtic atmosphere and drawing from Irish myth and legend. However, the protagonists spend most of their time asking questions, and rarely get useful answers in return. This lack of solid information, coupled with a slow-burning plot and names seemingly drawn from a hat (Snakoil Kawkaw, Ghork Mega, Kemtuk Lapeep), makes this a somewhat ponderous read that comes to a halt rather than reaching a true stopping point. Ages 12–up. (Nov.)