(Trigger Warning) Gone to See the River Man : A Review

Gone to See the River Man by Kristopher Triana

horror, thriller, splatterpunk, cosmic?

published : March 2020

my rating : ★★★★★


i’ve been wanting to read this for so long and finally caved and bought a copy, thinkin’ “ahh this will be a fun ride.” it was but i had no idea what i was signing up for.

premise :

Lori is fascinated with Edmund Cox, a brutal serial killer that’s behind bars. when she’s not visiting with him, she’s taking care of her brain-damaged older sister Abby. Edmund sends her on a quest.. a quest to get a key and bring it to the River Man. Lori brings Abby along and through the thick backwoods of Killen, their grisly past will rise up to meet them.

my thoughts :

i’ve read books that disgust me, and i’ve read splatterpunk books that i thought were really brutal but THIS was psychological splatterpunk. it fucked with my mind. even after finishing it, i’m sitting here in discomfort and unease remembering the circumstances that brought Lori to the very end.

the characters are incredibly well-written. Lori coming off as a lovely caretaker to her sister, though one who has an unusual interest in incarcerated men, writing many felons before she comes to Edmund, finding herself getting increasingly enamored by him. Abby is also a believable character, and, i told my boyfriend this so many times while reading, “I like how Kristopher SHOWS rather than TELLS.” he never tells you straight up that she has brain damage until a little later in the book. he shows you her actions, how she’s slightly slower, child-like, and innocently happy. the relationship between Lori and Abby is one that is constantly evolving throughout the book and was one of my favorite aspects.

both characters change throughout the book. initial impressions be damned, these women are not what they seem. the woods of Killen does something to them, their normal everyday life and co-dependent relationship being strained and tense.

the pacing was actually the best i’ve read in a while. i talk about pacing a lot, but it’s important to my enjoyment of a story. too slow or too fast and i get lost or uninterested. this was perfect.

the points of view varied from Abby’s, to Lori’s, to their little brother Pete’s, to letters written to and from Edmund. every chapter is a little jump to the left, adding more questions to your list. these questions being answered by the end of the book in a very satisfying way.

did i mention the writing? engrossing. it pulls you in and just when you think you can take a break, something happens and you’re like “fuck, i can cook dinner in a bit.” my only qualm was the use of the term “shit-stain” at least 2 or 3 times throughout the book. just seemed really random to me, and pulled me out a bit. that’s just a little complaint though, in no way does it truly detract from this experience.

Lori and Abby’s journey through the woods is exciting, due to their conversations, meeting various people who live deep deep in the forest, and their consequent search of the fabled, almost mythical, River Man.

❝  Ya go rotten in your heart after dealin’ with The River Man.

the gore and horror aspect of this book is fantastical, which i’m finding that i absolutely love. definitely a cosmic feel here. alternate dimensions and worlds, something out of the ordinary, something not of this earth. what really shined other than the obvious horror/splatter is the past of these characters.

how did Abby get brain damage? what happened to their brother Pete? why is Lori so fascinated by men who kill people? and again, i’ll say Kristopher does not TELL you, he slowly reveals all the answers in time. truly masterful storytelling.

i can’t gush enough about the multiple arcs weaving this book together, and the relationships between all the characters. the throwbacks to their past lives, their current conditions and what their future may or may not hold.

❝  This crooked country shack was the last stop on a journey through her own soul, and when she emerged from it she would not be the Lori she knew and hated. This doorway was a birth canal of splintered wood. She would be resurrected from the rot and cinders she’d made of her life and would at long last be happy.

i’d heard this book was messed up but it seriously did a number on me. i’m stuck between “what the actual fuck?” and “is this one of the best books i’ve ever read? maybe?” it’s surreal and i’d highly recommend this to anybody who enjoys horror. even if you’re not a fan of splatterpunk, this one deserves a read. i absolutely loved it.

as always, read with discretion. there’s some big triggers in this book. take care of yourself.

buy your own copy on Amazon!

have you read Gone to See the River Man? or anything else by Triana? let me know in the comments!


thanks for reading!

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