Into This River I Drown

Title: Into This River I Drown
Author: TJ Klune
Buy link: (Second Edition)
Genre: M/M Paranormal Romance
Length: Novel
Rating: 5+ stars

five star + DIK read 2

A Guest Review by Sammy

Review Summary: A tribute…a memorial…a capturing of raw and dark emotion…a love story…a requiem…a devastatingly beautiful tale.

Blurb: Five years ago, Benji Green lost his beloved father, Big Eddie, when his truck crashed into a river. Everyone called it an accident, but Benji knows it was more. Even years later, he’s buried in his grief, throwing himself into managing Big Eddie’s convenience store in the small-town of Roseland, Oregon. Surrounded by his mother and three aunts, he lives day to day, struggling to keep his head above water.

But Roseland is no ordinary place.

With ever more frequent dreams of his father’s death and waking visions of feathers on the river’s surface, Benji finds his definition of reality bending. He thinks himself haunted; by ghosts or memories, he can no longer tell. Not until a man falls from the sky, leaving the burning imprint of wings on the ground, does Benji begin to understand that the world is more mysterious than he ever imagined—and more dangerous. As uncontrollable forces descend on Roseland, they reveal long-hidden truths about friends, family, and the stranger Calliel—a man Benji can no longer live without.

Review: I cannot give you a two paragraph summary of this story. Please, don’t ask me to do that, it is beyond my meager talents to encapsulate a 400 page saga into a mere few hundred words. Beyond that? I can barely begin to express to you the impact…the shattering, exhilarating, mind-blowing, emotional impact this novel had. On me. Me, who now has to write you a blithe little summary and a few anecdotal remarks, perhaps put down a quote or two (oh that makes me laugh–I highlighted half the book—haha, a quote or two, oh dear).

I. Am. Overwhelmed. Have I read all of TJ Klune’s other work? No.  Did I shake my head and think I am a masochist for trying to review a 400 page novel that I had heard was guaranteed to make even the most stalwart among us a heaving, sobbing mess by novel’s end? No, I like challenges.

Is this novel worth it? Worth every minute I spent reading it…crying over it…laughing and smiling over it? Oh dear reader…YES. Every minute.

Words. When well written, words can transform us, lift us, surround us with their beauty, touch our hearts and leave memories behind in our minds–little treasures that we can pull out later and take pleasure in the remembering of over and over again. A little treasure, that’s what Into This River I Drown by TJ Klune is, in a nutshell.

“If you care enough for someone, then you give them the time to know what they need to do for themselves.”

“You are tested because if you aren’t, how could you know what you believe in?”

“Because there is no one such as you in the world, and you belong to me, I’ll believe in you always because you are my son. You are going to be strong and brave, and one day, you’re going to be a great man and you will stand for what you believe in. I have faith that you will stand and be true.”

“The first step is where choices are met with determination, because every step after will be easier.”

“The measure of a man, she said finally, is not the words that mark his end, but everything he’s done since his beginning.”

Words…woven into one of the most beautiful tributes I have ever read.

Words…woven into the fabric of a love so sacrificial that it tore my heart apart in the reading.
Words…left behind for a millennium, describing the character and strength of the author, the stretch and scope of his imagination, the beauty and depth of his heart.

Yes, there were parts of this novel that seemed so fantastical. Guardian Angels falling to earth, falling in love, battling their own ability to be judge and jury and, instead allowing that idea of a God who seemingly takes and takes and takes from each of us, to, in the end, decide our fate. Sacrificing one’s life just to be able to say…I have loved…

Yes, there were some veiled and not so veiled reminders of Klune’s other novels…a bear sighting, or was that an otter. Seven, that mysterious man that I hear figures in another of his books. And even a brief tip of the hat to Klune’s own personal delight in Star Wars. They never took me away from the action, but they made me smile nonetheless. Clever author.

This novel, Into This River I Drown, is so much more than a paranormal love story. It is a lyrical tribute to fathers and sons, families who love, communities that actually care, and the idea that while there is evil in the world we have the ability to stand against it and prevail. It will not be without sacrifice–sometimes, deep, gut-wrenching sacrifice, but, in the end, it will be worth it, so very, very worth it.

Dear reader, I can say nothing more about this book for there are so many thoughts rattling around my tired old brain that I fear you will shake your head and finally catch on that ole Sammy has lost it for good. What I can say is this: approach this book with respect, it is a highly emotional read and while there is happiness, there is also great pain. Enjoy it for what it is, part fantasy, part harsh reality, and part homage to those we have loved and lost. And, in the end, recognize that love wends its way throughout each paragraph and page, and understand that: “You can’t know…how much you truly love something until it’s gone.”



  • Thanks for your review Sammy. I have had this book on my Kindle since it was released and just kept skipping over it. I love T.J. Klune’s writing, but this seemed like a departure from his other books so I kept passing it by. I read your review and started it last night. It kept me up until 2:00 a.m. I didn’t see a page count. It must be a long one because I am still only 10% in and I am hooked. Again, great review. 😀

  • Hey Sammy

    This is one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful review that I have read in a long time. T.J. Klune’s writing is not for everyone as I have found out, having DNF’d his last book, but based on your opinion I will try this one because I respect and trust you.

    Wonderful job Sammy.

  • I have decided based on the other books that I have read by this writer that his work is absolutely not for me, but this review is very beautiful Sammy, thank you.

    • I do understand that Sirius–he is not for everyone…but I will say this one is very different for him–based on the other two I have read by him–this one is deeper, more thoughtful, and very true–true to itself and careful with what it discusses. Mature–it is mature in every sense of the word.

  • I read this book the day it came out. I had preordered it and Amazon didn’t send it to my kindle until after one. I started reading it immediately and did not put it down until I was done. At tht point, I was a sobbing mess, as I fell asleep. I was, literally, good for nothing the next day.
    This book is not only the best book I’ve read so far this year, it is probably the best book I have ever read. Considering how much I read, that is huge.
    It is a book that has the ability to change how you view your world and the people in it. This is not hyperbole. It is that freaking good!

  • Sammy,

    I did not like the narrator of Mr. Klune,s other books, I found the narration rambling and at times sexist. Would you say this book is drastically different from the Bear series to warrant a look-see? Thanks.

    • Very Different Lasha–I found this narrator so wounded–and, in many ways, humble. This was pretty gutsy–this novel. I was impressed. Could it have been pared down a bit–here and there–maybe yes–but the overall feel and impact was not diminished by that idea at all.


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A mature woman, gracefully growing older, who lives with 12 cats and talks to imaginary people--had ya going there for a minute didn't I? I am an avid lover of all things m/m who delights in occasionally teasing Wave!
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