Truthseekers: Welcome to Blackriver, by Rob St. Martin
I started reading Rob St. Martin‘s Truthseekers: Welcome to Blackriver [Amazon | Mysterious Galaxy] on the drive back from vacation. I finished it fairly quickly, and immediately jumped back into revision madness, so it’s taken me almost a month to actually post a review. Bad Jim.
This first Truthseekers volume is a collection of intertwined short stories centering around fifteen-year-old Ashley Bennett. When Ashley’s parents are murdered, she has to leave Toronto and move to the small town of Blackriver to live with her older cousin Mark. Over the course of the book, Ashley begins to uncover secrets about her parents, her cousin, and herself.
I joked with Rob that the book reminded me of Buffy, only without the angst of the last few seasons. Imagine Sunnydale as a backwater Canadian town, and you’ll start to get a sense of the book’s vibe. Blackriver is located on the junction of several ley lines, so naturally all sorts of supernatural trouble ensues. Ashley and friends go up against vampires, witches, ghosts, secret societies, and cow tippers. Evil cow tippers. Not to mention the thing that killed her parents…
It’s a fun, easy read aimed at a YA audience. (I enjoyed it too, but there are those who’ll argue whether I qualify as a grown-up.) Ashley’s secret is a fascinating one. I saw it coming, but that doesn’t matter; I still like the implications about what she is and what she can do.
I liked the format overall. It was nice to be able to read in bite-sized chunks, advancing through the larger story one self-contained adventure at a time. Though there were a few times I’d start in on the next story and think to myself, Wait, why aren’t you guys doing more about X from the last story?
I only had two complaints. The first was that some of the stories started slowly. There’s a pattern of following Ashley through some of the mundane aspects of her life before we get into the weirdness. I can appreciate the contrast, but after a few stories, I found myself wanting to skip the first few pages and jump ahead.
The second issue was with the ending. I didn’t expect the book to wrap up every single loose thread, but I find it ironic that while the individual stories are self-contained, the book as a whole leaves you hanging. Though perhaps that’s a good reason to mention that Truthseekers 2: Birthright [Amazon | Mysterious Galaxy] is also available?
Every time I try to figure out how to wrap up this review, I keep coming back to the fact that it’s a fun read. Likeable characters, a good balance between the serious and the not-so-much, and an overall arc that has me curious about book two.
Rob is also on LiveJournal as Talyesin, and has posted the first chapter of the book at http://talyesin.livejournal.com/501876.html Check it out.