Monday, February 22, 2010

Review: "The Last River Child" by Lori Ann Bloomfield

In the village of Walvern there exists a legend: There is a spirit trapped in the Magurvey River. The only way that a spirit can escape from the river is if it lures another child down to the river to take its place. If a child is lured down to the river and looks the spirit in its eyes, the child will be trapped and the spirit will live on in the child's body. A river child causes untold damage among the village that it is unleashed upon, and the only way that a river child can be identified is by its pale, colourless eyes.

It is 1914 and young Peg, with her flaming red hair, is believed to be a river child. Even her father believes this, and her mother is the only one who firmly holds to the belief that her daughter is not a trapped spirit from the nearby river. When Peg's mother suddenly passes away on the day that World War I is declared it feeds the townspeople's belief that Peg is a river child and that she will only bring bad luck to those around her. Peg and her flighty older sister Sarah must learn to fend for themselves as their father frequently retreats inside himself. Sarah marries a local boy, who eventually heads off to war with some of the other young men from their village, including the only boy that has ever befriended Peg, determined to fight for their country. When Peg and Sarah's father passes away and Peg also discovers a secret that Sarah has been hiding from her, she must brush off the suspicion that follows her and she must fight for her future.

I jumped at the chance to review The Last River Child, the debut novel by Canadian author Lori Ann Bloomfield. Bloomfield captured my attention from the beginning as she introduced the endearing character of Peg. Despite the fact that Peg is kept on the outskirts of her community she continues to fight for her place in the village, refusing to leave simply because of the ignorance aound her. Her unwavering determination is one of the reasons that this book was so hard to put down.

I also appreciated how war was described from a Canadian perpective. When Sarah's husband decides to leave to fight in the war, Peg starts up a friendly correspondance with him and his letters almost broke my heart. Bloomfield does a wonderful job of conveying the homesickness that these boys felt, not to mention the horrors that they witness, as every boy who returns from the war is changed in a distinctive way. This reminded me a little of my own family history, as my father has told me that his dad was never the same after he returned home from fighting in World War II. It was wonderful to gain a better understanding of that period of great uncertainty, and to see that it was a period of not only uncertainty, but of incredible love and a sense of community.

I enjoyed this book so much, and especially loved the ending. Lori Ann Bloomfield is a new author to watch for, and I will certainly be reading her future books. A huge thank-you to Second Story Press who not only sent me one, but two copies of this book after my first one was stolen. In addition, make sure you come back tomorrow as Lori Ann Bloomfield visits The Book Chick and answers my questions!

Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Recommended to: Historical Fiction fans as well as anyone who enjoys novels by Canadian authors
Challenges: 2010 100+ Reading Challenge, New Author Challenge 2010


  1. I will definately be back to hear from the author. The book sounds really good.

  2. This sounds like a story that I would enjoy. Thanks for posting about it Jonita.

  3. Great write-up. And I'll be here tomorrow--I'm looking forward to the author's comments!

  4. That always is a good sign if you're going to watch out for her future books!

  5. Just finished this one tonight. I gobbled it up in one day. Very enjoyable!