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