Friday 8 March 2019

Book review : Into The River - Mark Brandi

I'm not sure who picked the cover picture for Mark Brandi's Into The River, but it's brilliant - fiery red and troubling, moody, dark skies, leading down to the intriguing, inviting, mesmerising waves that seem to want to drag you down to see what lies below ... or at least what lies beneath the cover !

Into The River was first published in 2018 in the author's native Australia under the title Wimmera and this original title - the name of a region in the state of Victoria - gives an idea of the Australian setting. Think flour mills and grain storage silos, sheep and national parks ... err, that's about as good as it gets !

Ben and Fab, two childhood friends, spend their days playing cricket, fishing for yabbies (like lobsters), riding their BMX bikes and lusting after a pair of Nike Air Maxes. They're just typical eleven-year-old kids, drifting towards high school and their teenage years. They don't talk about Fab getting hit by his father or Ben being unnerved by his next door neighbour's sudden death. When a burly newcomer, Ronnie, arrives in town, the boys stake him out, convinced he's a secret agent, or at least some guy who's bigger than Fab's dad. He offers Ben his first job around his house ... and a whole lot more.

Time moves on and Ben moves away. Twenty years later, Fab picks up the narration. Two local boys spot a strange wheelie bin in the river and, pulling it out, discover that its lid has been painstakingly bolted shut. This will be the event that unlocks the truth about what went on in the past.

As a child of the same generation, I loved the portrayal of the boys back in the eighties. Modern readers, used to mobile phones, internet and endless child safety campaigns, probably won't really understand how kids could end up in these kinds of situations, but back then, it definitely happened. I can remember heading off for the day with my friends with no way that my parents could get in touch with me, unless I decided to call home from a phone box. I can also remember hearing the odd tale at school that would certainly raise a few shocked looks now, and much bigger stories involving famous people, such as Rolf Harris, Jimmy Saville and Michael Jackson, to name but a few, are finally making their way into the headlines.

I loved the way the story was told, with lots left to the reader's imagination. It's only a short book - about 240 pages - but certainly packs a punch.

Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.


  1. It sounds like a perfect book for me, especially as it is from my part of the world and not too long. Thank you.

  2. The cover design is striking, I agree, it sets you in the mood and gives a hint that it's going to tackle troubling issues.
    My Mu was rather overprotective, so I didn't have as much freedom as my contemporaries, but I do remember going to the shops for groceries when I was about Eddie's age now, and I certainly wouldn't let him do that.

    1. Yes, I'm the same - I don't mind the girls going out, but they have their phones. Once Pierre starts at secondary school, he'll get a phone too then he can have a bit more liberty too !


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