The Way of the River

I do enjoy a good story about magic and mystery, and this book includes both of those things. This is the story of several siblings and cousins who, despite a generations-old rule not to explore the Kellandale Wood, break tradition while searching for an abandoned bag floating down the river. Each new discovery leads the children to realize that they never had the whole truth, and they must use their newfound knowledge to rescue an assortment of other friends in need. This emotion-driven story is a good fit for newer young adult readers who are confident in their reading ability as well as for those who can relate to a magical story about love and interconnectedness between humans and nature. Please see my full review below!


There is power in love, and sometimes love is the catalyst for great magic. Kellandale Wood has long been thought of as dangerous, and for those residing at Kellandale Manor, the woods are a beautiful, forbidden space. One day, a man is seen throwing a mysterious bag into the river traversing the woods, and sisters Tillie and Nora make the bold decision to disobey their parents and venture into Kellandale Wood to investigate. What they find is not what they expected, and they must keep their discovery a secret from their families lest it be taken from them. As more information comes to light, the children use their big hearts and bravery to protect others from harm and bring them to a space filled with wonder and safety.

This fantasy adventure revolves primarily around the characters and relationships involved in the story. Each character has a unique personality and strong feelings, and these are often referenced and discussed throughout the narrative. Because the focus is on the characters, there is not a great deal of world-building or action; instead, readers observe the events primarily through the emotions of the characters themselves. The narration frequently transitions between characters, giving readers insight into their thoughts at opportune moments within the text. This background knowledge helps make the events within the story make sense and encourages prediction and empathy as each moment unfolds. Magic and mystery are important components of the narrative, and these additions help readers suspend their disbelief while becoming closer to the characters and their experiences.

Early young adult readers will find this book to be accessible in both writing style and intensity. Though there are occasional moments of light violence and animal abuse, the overall message of the book revolves around the love and connections shared by the characters in the story. As the first in its series, this book introduces readers to a large collection of characters and establishes some of the foundation for the subsequent novels. Longer chapters lend this book to confident readers, but because of the emotion-driven narrative, these chapters can move quickly. Representing an assortment of human backgrounds and types of love, this book has a little something both for fantasy readers and for those who enjoy stories about strong and interconnected relationships.

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