Review: The Snowmelt River by Frank P. Ryan

The Snowmelt River spans the Earth we know and a strange magical world called Tir. The tale opens in the picturesque Irish countryside (beautifully depicted by the author) where four young people meet and discover they are all orphans. Right away, we feel that, while quite ordinary in outward appearance, these youngsters are somehow special. Fate or some uncanny power has marked them out for a purpose as yet unknown. They have been drawn together to fulfill a great destiny. Soon they are mysteriously “called” by the nearby mountain, Slievenamon, with its ancient stone cairn and legendary portal to another world.

The Snowmelt River cover

A captivating epic fantasy with a unique modern twist: mobile phones are magically transformed into objects of immense power.

Ireland blooms as never before. Timeless tombs reveal long kept secrets. Surging magical forces swirl through leafy woods and green fields. The secrets of the portal have a guardian who is none other than the wise old grandfather of one of the youngsters. Armed with his advice and an eldritch sword, the four young adventurers battle evil beings and face death as they traverse the portal to the world of Tir. The story that unfolds in that wild, primitive, and rugged land is crammed with magic, excitement, and danger.

The four companions have taken their mobile phones with them and these, unexpectedly, are far from useless in the new world. A strange grimy being, known only as Granny Dew, magically transforms them into objects of immense power. Each young person has a special gift. But to what purpose? None of them knows why they have been summoned to Tir. None knows the true nature of their powers.

Yet they are immediately swept up in the vicious war that will decide who rules this enchanted land. Vulnerable furry fisherfolk and tall Amazon warriors alike look upon them as “chosen” bearers of ancient symbols and powers. Called upon to fulfill their unknown destinies, the four companions must set aside their childish ways and step forward as young adults. Doing so proves easier for some than for others. Their perilous rite of passage is a baptism of fire.

The people of Tir are not human in appearance, but all too human in every other way. We are shown the best and the worst of human character. Bold courage and willing sacrifice mingle with rank cowardice and blatant lust for power. Loyalty and sweet love vie with foul treachery and hate. The four young companions – still tender and untested – are embroiled in life as it is lived by those who stand to lose everything.

Magical objects and enchanted places abound in The Snowmelt River. A mysterious ship that is alive, giant stone heads that house the souls of long-dead warriors, crystals inscribed with glowing runes, abandoned overgrown fortresses so old their gloomy inner chambers are ankle deep with dust. Each unique thing and every lovingly depicted place add their morsel of delight to this thoroughly entertaining novel. The author has imagined a brooding sorcerous world filled with dark romantic landscapes and shivering cold, and haunted by dense blue-black shadows.

Like all rousing adventure yarns, The Snowmelt River builds to a frantic and desperate conclusion. The final battle goes on for chapters as the good people of Tir make a despairing stand against the overwhelming forces of the monstrous tyrant who has afflicted their lands. In the midst of fire and death, the four young companions live out their various unforeseen destinies.

Author: Thomas Cotterill

I am a manic-depressive made philosophical by my long struggle with the disruptive mood disorder, during which I spent sixteen years living as a forest hermit. I write philosophical essays, fantasy, and science fiction. My attempt to integrate creativity, psychology, philosophy, and spirituality imbues everything I write. You will find hundreds of related essays and articles on my blog. I live quietly in British Columbia's scenic Fraser Valley, a beautiful place in which to wax philosophical.

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