Private School Gets Magical
The River King is a story focused around love, friendship, and the unknown. Written by Alice Hoffman, the book takes place in The Haddan School, a private school in Connecticut. The Haddan School contains quite a bit of mythical history based upon the paranormal and even the magical. However, it’s not until new students Gus and Carlin arrive that the story truly takes off. Gus becomes the portal through which the magic of the school can continue and, through a series of events, Carlin becomes his believer.
In this novel, Hoffman delicately weaves together reality and myth as Gus seems to stick around, even after his death. The mystical elements are placed about so subtly that nowhere does the story seem stretched or overdone. Hoffman has created a beautifully effortless tale, one that is neither too far-fetched nor boring. A simplistic tone underlies a complicated story about what happens after death.
One of novel's main areas of accomplishment is character development. Each main character is developed to a point that would satisfy the average reader--but no further. Hoffman has found the equilibrium between too much and not enough. Beyond telling a complex story, Hoffman also manages to work in lessons about love, even within the chaotic world of death. It’s a mystical story with just enough reality to make it almost seem possible.
No matter what type of reader you are–if you love the mythical or if you hate it–don't cross this book off of your list. Hoffman has discovered a precise way to tell a story and it’s not one to be missed, not even by the nonbelievers.