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Reviewed by Ruffina Oserio for Readers' Favorite
What the River Wants by Arthur Byrd is a gripping Southern fiction novel that features family, love, loyalty, solitude, and the subtle ways the past has its grip on us. The past is not always gone; it lives in our memory and, at times, it haunts us. This is a fact that comes through neatly in this novel about an old man, Tom, living as a recluse in a cabin by the river, tormented by his past. Readers are introduced to his teenage grandson, full of life and uncertainty, longing to reconnect with this old man. What happens when we have betrayed our own? Read this story of family secrets, of fragile threads, of disappointments, and redemption. It has a little piece of each family in it. A story told in a very clear and beautiful voice, utterly absorbing.
Arthur Byrd’s writing, lyrical and evocative, combines the power of prose and descriptive passages with a masterful style of the epistolary and poetry to create a stunning setting, complex characters, and a gripping plot. Here is a random passage that is filled with psychological and emotional insight: “As the wind blurred Tom’s vision, galloping hooves drowned out all other sound as Bucky eased off onto a side trail. Tom felt himself light in the moment, weightless in a dreamlike instant of complete rapture, lost in the freedom of immediacy. The sound and feeling conjured in his mind a distant image, the ancient artesian well at his childhood home still flowing endlessly and watering his boyhood garden.” What the River Wants is a delightful story that explores the life of a family and how incidents around the river change everything and define paths. Great characters, vivid setting, awesome story! You won’t be able to put it down.