Gone To See The River Man: Kristopher Triana
Reviewed By Steve Stred
Yup, that was brutal.
Truthfully, when this book was released, I completely missed it. It wasn’t until a few weeks after release date that the amazing Tony Jones suggested it as something I’d enjoy in a reply on Facebook or Twitter. Huh? Mr. Jones has never steered me wrong, so I marked it as ‘to-buy.’ Then Tracy Robinson raved about it. And Jamie Goeker. Well then. Three reviewers, who have very similar tastes as I, all raving about the same book?
Purchased and moved to the head of the line!
What I liked: Triana is a Splatterpunk Award winner writing, so you know immediately that things will not be pretty. And while there are moments of beauty, sentences showing true love between characters, ‘Gone to See the River Man’ is at its core a story covered in rust and rot.
Lori is our MC. Selfish and narcissistic, searching for love. She’s found it, or so she believes, in the incarcerated arms of a notorious serial killer. Edmund eviscerates women, but after becoming penpals, Lori believes they’re connected. She’s willing to do anything, even travel into the woods near where Edmund lived, to find the River Man and deliver a key.
Triana never once holds back the tension or the sheer revulsion of the landscape. Lori is forced to bring her sister along, a sister who has suffered a catastrophic brain injury in the past, leaving her with the mental capacity of a young child.
It’s this specific relationship that Triana exploits to the fullest. Both to try and make the reader like Lori, who herself is a vile, repugnant human, which comes out even more with the family back story, but also to see just how selfish and horrible Lori is. Singularly focused on finding the ‘River Man’ she longs for her sister to be out of her life.
The main scene with the ‘River Man’ is pin-drop perfect. Triana delivered such a stunning character awaiting in that cabin, that each sentence held weight. I was grinning from ear-to-ear as it was described and when the ‘River Man’ had a meeting with both Lori and her sister, I knew the ending was going to be vicious.
What I didn’t like: Not much really. I found one scene early on a bit odd. When Lori has to retrieve the key, it is stored somewhere horrific. She struggled to do it, but when we learn more about her backstory and her lack of moral limitations, I felt it was a bit off overall. Minor really.
Why you should buy this: At one point, in our review group chat, fellow reviewer Ben asked what I would rate it and I replied that it would depend on if Triana stuck the landing. He did.
From start to finish this novella is a horrific piece that hands you a shovel on page one and tells you to start digging. It’s violent, brutal, frustrating and emotional. It packs everything into a dirt crusted box and carries you into the woods, where the sun will never find you.
I loved every second of it, and think you would too.
Gone To See The River Man – Kristopher Triana
Superfans. Groupies. Stalkers.
These people will give anything for the idols they worship, be they rock stars, actors or authors. Or even serial killers.
Lori is just such a fanatic. Her obsession is with Edmund Cox, a man of sadistic cruelty who butchered more than twenty women. She’s gone so far as to forge a relationship with him, visiting him in prison and sending him letters on a regular basis. She will do anything to get close to him, so when he gives her a task, she eagerly accepts it.
She has no idea of the horror that awaits her.
Edmund tells her she must go to his cabin in the woods of Killen and retrieve a key to deliver to a mysterious figure known only as The River Man.
In her quest, she brings along her handicapped sister, and they journey through the deep, dark valley, beginning their trip upriver. The trip quickly becomes a surreal nightmare, one that digs up Lori’s personal demons, the ones she feels bonds her to Edmund. The river runs with flesh, the cabin is a vault of horrors, and ghostly blues music echoes through the mountains. Soon they will learn that The River Man is not quite fact or folklore, and definitely not human — at least, not anymore. And the key is just the beginning of what is required of Lori to prove she’s worthy of a madman’s love.
Steve Stred is the author of a number of novels, novellas and collections. He has appeared in anthologies with some of Horror’s heaviest hitters.
He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada with his wife, son and their dog OJ.
You can follow Steve on Twitter @stevestred
You can follow Steve on Instagram @stevestred
You can visit Steve’s Official website here