Teen book are either a hit or miss with me: I read some and hate it, thus never picking it up again, or read it all and love it. Fantasy is especially tricky considering the genre is so packed with vigorous contenders that producing a tale which is engaging and original while keeping it “simple” enough for younger readers is a whole obstacle in and of itself. Yet with awesome reviews and plenty of fanfare the decision to read “The Snowmelt River” by Frank P. Ryan was a no brainer.
The story is one of interdiemensional travel. A group of teenagers, Mark, Alan, Kate and Mo are drawn together one Sunday afternoon and for reason inexplicable travel to another world. This world is one of fantasy, of giant warrior woman, magical dwarfs, and living ships. It is a realm of intrigue where they have been called to fulfill a prophecy of epic proportions: liberate the people of Ossirell from the diabolical rule of the Tryant.
Helping them in their quest is a group of bear-like river people and the aforementioned large woman and dwarfs. These archetypes are handled well. Each such race has its own customs and history which interact with each other on a deep yet not overly so basis. With just enough allies to help them on their travels the reader experiences a true journey of overcoming hardships in a different place.
While many shortcuts are given to the cast, primarily due to their age and abilities, for the thread you are reading it was told in a surprising realistic way. Though it is not the manner of realism I would endow for the target audience I cannot say it was the worse censorship either. Throughout the situations there is content galore to cause any youthful reader to stay tuned. With each chapter relatively short and the writing as crisp as cold water to skip out on Mr. Ryan’s great installment on his series would be criminal.