Every once in a while there is a novel that sticks with you long after you’ve turned the last page, closed the book, and placed it on the shelf. There are characters that reach inside of you, to your deepest self, and pull on the strings found hidden there. There are stories that are so wondrous and magical and dark and real, the kind that leave you grasping for magic in your every day life. The Boatman’s Daughter is all of these things, and more.
I instantly fell in love with the world that Davidson has created in The Boatman’s Daughter. The descriptions are as lush as the rivers and swamps and bayous that compose the scenery, the language perfectly conjuring the imagery that Davidson desires to impart. There’s something about the way that Andy Davidson not only entertains you with this writing, but challenges your knowledge of things. I also appreciated the way that the short chapters shifted scenes, as it was easier for me to get a better picture of the whole because of it.
The characters of The Boatman’s Daughter are expertly crafted and will leave the reader desperately hoping for success and destruction in equal measure. The horrific actions and attitude of Charlie Riddle are made more so because of Davidson’s unflinching narrative. I can’t remember the last time I genuinely wished for the death of a fictional character so fervently. Juxtaposed against the deranged preacher and the psychotic sheriff are a cast of characters that you can’t help but love and root for: Miranda, Littlefish, Iskra, and Avery.
I loved the multiple stories that all take place within the pages of The Boatman’s Daughter, and the way that Davidson brings them all together. Consequences are a major theme of this novel. I really appreciate the Slavic mythology that Davidson uses here, as well. The scene in the bathhouse was riveting and terrifying, as was Miranda’s trial at the tree and the dealings with the leshii. I hope that I’m not jinxing Andy Davidson in any manner, but reading The Boatman’s Daughter was much like the first time I cracked open a Stephen King novel – otherworldly horror interspersed between plain, old fashioned human indecency.
Much like Davidson’s first novel, In the Valley of the Sun, I loved The Boatman’s Daughter from start to finish. I was hooked from the beginning, and the end left me simultaneously satisfied and sad that the journey was over. Andy Davidson is a powerful new voice in the horror genre, and I cannot wait to see what he writes next.