"River Thieves"

River Thieves by Michael Crummey

I didn’t like this book. I did like certain things about it, but if you asked me if I liked it overall I’d have to say no. I'm not saying it isn’t a good book – I’m not qualified to judge that – it just didn’t appeal to me. I do like his writing; his novel, Sweetland, is one of my favourite books.

Crummey's descriptions are wonderfully vivid. You can smell the forest and feel the cold of a Newfoundland winter. I love the setting: the ocean, the snow, the ice, the forest, the whole wild, harsh, landscape. I also appreciated the history lesson - early 19th century trappers and fishermen from Britain living and working in Newfoundland, contributing to the decline and eventual extinction of the Beothuk Indians. It lead me to do some further research which introduced me to a chapter of Canadian history I knew nothing about.

I didn’t like any of the characters - even the ones I might have liked felt distant. I admit they were believable, each one revealing light and dark in their natures, but they all seemed to make terrible choices, destructive to themselves and everybody else. The story is based on historical fact but it is told with such violence and brutality, it left me feeling like the whole human race is beyond hope. It is grim. 

So, while I do very much enjoy Michael Crummey's writing, I did not enjoy this book.


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