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A River Called Time

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A monumental speculative fiction story of love, loyalty, politics, and conscience, set in parallel Londons. The Ark was built to save the lives of the many, but rapidly became a refuge for the elite, the entrance closed without warning. Years after the Ark was cut off from the world--a world much like our own, but in which slavery has never existed--a chance of survival with A monumental speculative fiction story of love, loyalty, politics, and conscience, set in parallel Londons. The Ark was built to save the lives of the many, but rapidly became a refuge for the elite, the entrance closed without warning. Years after the Ark was cut off from the world--a world much like our own, but in which slavery has never existed--a chance of survival within the Ark's confines is granted to a select few who can prove their worth. Among their number is Markriss Denny, whose path to future excellence is marred only by a closely guarded secret: without warning, his spirit leaves his body, allowing him to see and experience a world far beyond his physical limitations. Once inside the Ark, Denny learns of another with the same power, whose existence could spell catastrophe for humanity. He is forced into a desperate race to understand his abilities, and in doing so uncovers the truth about the Ark, himself, and the people he thought he once knew.


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A monumental speculative fiction story of love, loyalty, politics, and conscience, set in parallel Londons. The Ark was built to save the lives of the many, but rapidly became a refuge for the elite, the entrance closed without warning. Years after the Ark was cut off from the world--a world much like our own, but in which slavery has never existed--a chance of survival with A monumental speculative fiction story of love, loyalty, politics, and conscience, set in parallel Londons. The Ark was built to save the lives of the many, but rapidly became a refuge for the elite, the entrance closed without warning. Years after the Ark was cut off from the world--a world much like our own, but in which slavery has never existed--a chance of survival within the Ark's confines is granted to a select few who can prove their worth. Among their number is Markriss Denny, whose path to future excellence is marred only by a closely guarded secret: without warning, his spirit leaves his body, allowing him to see and experience a world far beyond his physical limitations. Once inside the Ark, Denny learns of another with the same power, whose existence could spell catastrophe for humanity. He is forced into a desperate race to understand his abilities, and in doing so uncovers the truth about the Ark, himself, and the people he thought he once knew.

30 review for A River Called Time

  1. 4 out of 5

    Katrina Evans

    This book started off amazing - the characters, the setting everything felt really fresh and intriguing and I was utterly absorbed. Then there was a scene where violence against a woman was used as a reason for another character (male) to act. I did raise my eyebrows a bit but carried on then when I realised that there was nothing else to this incident, it was just a throw away plot point (no consequences for the perpetrator, very real but glossed over consequences for the victim and the MC basi This book started off amazing - the characters, the setting everything felt really fresh and intriguing and I was utterly absorbed. Then there was a scene where violence against a woman was used as a reason for another character (male) to act. I did raise my eyebrows a bit but carried on then when I realised that there was nothing else to this incident, it was just a throw away plot point (no consequences for the perpetrator, very real but glossed over consequences for the victim and the MC basically just shrugs and goes on with his life) I threw my kindle at the wall in disgust. I did pick it back up and try to read on but I couldn't get passed this and gave up within a few more pages. I honestly thought we were over using this trope, any I guess that if the use of this in fiction doesn't bother you, it might continue to be amazing but for me it's a hard bounce.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Coepi

    I have very mixed feelings about A River Called Time and for most of the time I spent reading it (which was several months!) I was sure I was going to rate it two stars. However, it redeemed itself at the last minute and I ended up feeling quite fond of it, so three stars it is. A lot of other reviewers seemed to give up in the middle of this book (40-60%) and I was very nearly one of them. It is very slow going and the pacing is definitely a weakness. The plot just takes forever to properly star I have very mixed feelings about A River Called Time and for most of the time I spent reading it (which was several months!) I was sure I was going to rate it two stars. However, it redeemed itself at the last minute and I ended up feeling quite fond of it, so three stars it is. A lot of other reviewers seemed to give up in the middle of this book (40-60%) and I was very nearly one of them. It is very slow going and the pacing is definitely a weakness. The plot just takes forever to properly start! I also found events quite hard to follow, both in terms of the broader plot and individual scenes. The writing style is stylish but not the most clear, which only added to my confusion. And while I won't go into detail, I found the ending impossible to understand in a way that probably means I'm just not smart enough to get it, but which was frustrating nonetheless. But, but, but. Once the plot did start going I was engaged, and by the end of the book I was so attached to the characters and the world. This is an incredibly creative book, with its combination of physics and fantasy and dystopia. The author's note at the end really hammered that home: it's fascinating to read a book where the author tried, and significantly succeeded, in completely decolonising his writing process and his ideas. If anything, I just wish that had been more obvious in the text itself and not just the author's note. I also loved the little flashes of my London that I saw, even when that wasn't the direct setting - it's a welcome change from so many American authors. So... what to conclude. A River Called Time was a slow, often painful reading experience, but I'm really glad I read it in the end. There's so much ambition and creativity here, which I'm glad I got to experience. Trigger warning for animal harm and death (specifically dogs). I know that's not the worst thing that happens in this book (there's also classism, lots of state violence, oppression, general violence, I think some discussion of racism, etc) but it's the only thing that surprised me and isn't standard for dystopian-type novels, which is why I'm flagging it up.

  3. 5 out of 5

    intentlyreading

    A River Called Time By Courttia Newland RRP: AUD $29.99 Synopsis: The Ark was built to save the lives of the many, but rapidly became a refuge for the elite, the entrance closed without warning. Years after the Ark was cut off from the world--a world much like our own, but in which slavery has never existed--a chance of survival within the Ark's confines is granted to a select few who can prove their worth. Among their number is Markriss Denny, whose path to future excellence is marred only by a clo A River Called Time By Courttia Newland RRP: AUD $29.99 Synopsis: The Ark was built to save the lives of the many, but rapidly became a refuge for the elite, the entrance closed without warning. Years after the Ark was cut off from the world--a world much like our own, but in which slavery has never existed--a chance of survival within the Ark's confines is granted to a select few who can prove their worth. Among their number is Markriss Denny, whose path to future excellence is marred only by a closely guarded secret: without warning, his spirit leaves his body, allowing him to see and experience a world far beyond his physical limitations. Once inside the Ark, Denny learns of another with the same power, whose existence could spell catastrophe for humanity. He is forced into a desperate race to understand his abilities, and in doing so uncovers the truth about the Ark, himself, and the people he thought he once knew. My Thoughts: To start off I would like to point to the gorgeous cover and the captivating blurb. The author had a way with words and right away I knew I would love this book. The start of the book was mesmerizing and full of action, I was drawn to this world and its characters. After the opening the action started to slow and I found myself finding less joy in the book. I persevered a little bit more and was reminded of why I liked it. Throughout the book many relevant themes were explored which all left an important mark in the story. The imagery was brilliant and throughout the book I would forget I was reading and instead be imagining the story. This novel was very complex and had many different aspects to focus on which added to the story. Overall, I enjoyed this book, it was easy to read and engage in and provided me the opportunity to read a book slightly outside of what I would normally read. I would like to thank @allenandunwin for sending me a copy to read and review.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kay Smillie

    This book's cover and blurb attracted me straight off the bat, and it sounded like my kind of book. I haven't read anything by this author, so that was another positive tick in a box. I really enjoy finding authors I've not come across previously and becoming a convert. The book started off very strongly and completely captured my attention and imagination. I was really interested in what was happening, but then I started to struggle. The writing is expressive, descriptive, and absolutely beautif This book's cover and blurb attracted me straight off the bat, and it sounded like my kind of book. I haven't read anything by this author, so that was another positive tick in a box. I really enjoy finding authors I've not come across previously and becoming a convert. The book started off very strongly and completely captured my attention and imagination. I was really interested in what was happening, but then I started to struggle. The writing is expressive, descriptive, and absolutely beautiful in places, but I felt that perhaps the pace was a wee bit too slow for me. It's easy to pick up the social, racial, and sexual inequalities, and the power and lies of the media. Sort of 1984-ish, on a par with today, in fact. I didn't 'click' emotionally with Markriss or any of the characters once he arrived at the Ark, I'm afraid, and that is SO unusual for me as I'm very character-driven. I loved the parts where Markriss Denny's spirit experienced things out with his physical body, but it wasn't enough to keep me reading on. I gave up at 75% - I tried my best, honestly - as my energy is too precious to waste on things I'm not enjoying. Having said all that, this wasn't for me, but it's a fabulous concept, and it may well be the perfect book for you. I chose an early copy from a selection at NetGalley, which I then voluntarily read and honestly reviewed. All opinions are my own.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jodie McPherson

    So after abandoning this months ago finally DNF’d it... got around 15% in and just wasn’t interested and haven’t gravitated back towards it... I still have it on my kindle and I do want to give it another go later this year!! So stay tuned for a possible opinion change!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Runalong

    Hugely disappointing as the first fifth sets up an interesting story and world but throws it away in hackneyed Chosen One plots of parallel worlds but with excessive exposition, description and wafer thin female characters - a mess Full review - https://www.runalongtheshelves.net/bl... Hugely disappointing as the first fifth sets up an interesting story and world but throws it away in hackneyed Chosen One plots of parallel worlds but with excessive exposition, description and wafer thin female characters - a mess Full review - https://www.runalongtheshelves.net/bl...

  7. 4 out of 5

    A.M.

    I received an eARC in exchange for an honest review. The title, cover and description pique my interest - and the action-packed opening scene of young boys exploring a future, derelict London sucks me right in. Unfortunately, I quickly lost steam and have decided not to finish at the 50% mark. The premise and world-building are fascinating. The story is set in Dinium, a post-apocalyptic London in a world ravaged by war (I think). The skies are thick with red clouds, the general population suffers I received an eARC in exchange for an honest review. The title, cover and description pique my interest - and the action-packed opening scene of young boys exploring a future, derelict London sucks me right in. Unfortunately, I quickly lost steam and have decided not to finish at the 50% mark. The premise and world-building are fascinating. The story is set in Dinium, a post-apocalyptic London in a world ravaged by war (I think). The skies are thick with red clouds, the general population suffers from disease and neglect in varying degrees depending on the richness of their neighbourhood. But in the very centre of the city is a derelict zone, cleared by a bomb, now home to the Ark - an elite enclosure for the rich and the few intelligent folks worthy enough to earn a place inside. Thematically, the story explores social inequality, police brutality and media oppression. There are some powerful parallels to current affairs, and important messages to explore. Protagonist Markriss grows up in one of the poorer boroughs in a single-parent household, and eventually earns his way into the Ark. He is initially a passive character, yet still likeable - his infrequent brushes with mystical events beyond his understanding adding a level of intrigue. But I find myself liking him less as he gets older, his "not like other guys so attracts all the girls" characterisation a little on the nose. I am much more drawn to learn about the women surrounding Markriss, who come across as complex and multilayered. (Alas Markriss primarily describes them by their appearance.) While the writing is vivid and visceral, and individual scenes really capture my imagination, the narrator feels a little too distant for me to connect with the story on the emotional level I would like. I also really struggle with the pacing, the narrative skipping through time in a way that feels disjointed, leaving me wondering when the main plot will kick into gear. At about 30% of the way into the book, the main plot unexpectedly kicks in: we abruptly veer into a scene that makes little sense to both Markriss and I, yet results in a (magical) quest to win his loved one. However I soon feel like I'm back to square one, waiting for the story to happen. I do think the plot is likely going to weave the different threads together, and provide interesting commentary on the powerful themes - but I'm struggling to sustain interest as I'm ultimately a very character & plot driven reader. I'd recommend this to fans of philosophical/literary science fiction - possibly worth picking up if you enjoyed The Three-Body Problem.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Trevelyanwright

    Courttia Newman has written a novel in which lots goes on. It’s an alternative future history of London and by implication the UK and Africa too. There’s family history, romance and revolution, multiverses and astral projection. At times there’s so much going on that you wonder whether Newman can keep a hold on all the strands he’s set in motion. We start in a dystopian future London - in which the city is divided into two. Makriss is a talented student whose excellence buys him a Golden Ticket f Courttia Newman has written a novel in which lots goes on. It’s an alternative future history of London and by implication the UK and Africa too. There’s family history, romance and revolution, multiverses and astral projection. At times there’s so much going on that you wonder whether Newman can keep a hold on all the strands he’s set in motion. We start in a dystopian future London - in which the city is divided into two. Makriss is a talented student whose excellence buys him a Golden Ticket from the outer lands into the Ark, the city within a city populated by the elite. Fast forward a few years and Makriss is a journalist writing puff pieces, playing up the ferocity of protesters in the lowest ranks of the Ark and writing pieces supporting the regime. Gradually, through a combination of wanting to impress girls, and political debate, he is sucked into an underground uprising. If this sounds so dystopia so normal Newman throws in some pretty unique themes into the mix. The first is a complete decolonisation of Britain and Africa: in this London African culture, cosmology and religion are as natural as Christianity. So complete is this process that brilliantly characters can call on African gods without the reader having any idea of the colour of their skin. The second theme - the ability of the spirit to leave the body and enter other realms. The level of detail and scientific approach to this unlikely approach to space travel recalls Ian Watson’s seventies novels such as Alien Embassy and God’s World. I won’t spoil the plot by leaving another big theme which is unveiled in the last section of the book - but it casts the previous 300 pages in a completely new light. There was lots I liked about this book: Makriss’ struggles with his own thoughts and instincts feel very real; and for those who know south London there’s some unexpected callbacks. The first 100 pages sets up the key conflicts and characters, and the last third provides surprises and prompts reflection. If I had a criticism it is that it does sag in the middle and Newman sometimes left this reader unsure of which multiverse Makriss was currently in. It’s at times not an easy read, but Newman has by the end led Makriss to some uncomfortable truths about the nature of the Ark (and caused us to reflect on the injustices of our own world).

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sonia Williams

    I finished this book a week ago and felt the need for it to settle in my head before I wrote a review. I was taken by the description and it was indeed an interesting read, possibly not something I would normally have picked up but would definitely recommend. This is a book in four parts starting in an alternative post-apocalyptic London referred to as Dinium . In the first section we meet our protagonist Markriss and his childhood friend Nesta, we also get the first inkling that travel in spirit I finished this book a week ago and felt the need for it to settle in my head before I wrote a review. I was taken by the description and it was indeed an interesting read, possibly not something I would normally have picked up but would definitely recommend. This is a book in four parts starting in an alternative post-apocalyptic London referred to as Dinium . In the first section we meet our protagonist Markriss and his childhood friend Nesta, we also get the first inkling that travel in spirit is possible. We are introduced to Pods which are used for sleep and create neural connections to external equipment and services. In Dinium the goal of people who live in the Outside is to excel at exams to allow them to entre the Ark - a huge concrete enclosed community found on the other side of a waste called the Blin. It is in the Ark that Markriss meets Chileshe and Keshini both of whom are central to his story. Once you go to the Ark you leave all connections to the Outside and are fully immersed in the 'utopia' of life in the Ark. As you may guess the Ark is not all it purports to be.... In the second section Markriss is in a parallel Dinium where he has evolved spiritually, is based in the Ark and is part of a peaceful protest group called the Outsiders. Here we reconnect with characters from part one but all have different connections to each other than before. This section leads to acts of terror (vividly detailed) and consequences of those acts. In the third section we find Markriss in the familiar territory of our London, again familiar characters reappear but again their connections have reformed creating new dilemmas and interactions. Then in the final quarter we cycle round to the first Dinium in which we encountered Markriss. There story lines are woven together with the parallel Londons reflecting in each strand and Markriss journey to get to where he now is intellectually and spiritually. The descriptions of each section is detailed and evocative, taking you to that place. I found the narrative of section two with its focus on astral projection, meditation and the development of spiritually particularly compelling . Also how peaceful intentions, convictions of a right path can in fact lead you down a very dark violence filled avenue. The astral projection element facilitated by the pod is the main device which allows Markriss to skip between parallel realities. Each time he skips though he has no memory of the previous reality, although the feeling that you know someone does persist. In addition the African diaspora has not been affected by colonialization, so the communities portrayed are richer and more vibrant for this. Overall the book has a compelling narrative although the spiritual elements may be hard going for some readers. My thanks to Netgalley and Canongate for access to the ARC.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Vivienne

    An extraordinary work of literary speculative fiction ‘A River Called Time’ by Courttia Newland is an extraordinary novel, written over many years and rich in philosophical and spiritual ideas. Courttia Newland proposes a world where there was no African slave trade, no colonisation. A world in which European explorers instead learnt from peaceful contact with the result that African cosmology became the dominant world religion. It opens with an alternative timeline as we learn that in 1830 The An extraordinary work of literary speculative fiction ‘A River Called Time’ by Courttia Newland is an extraordinary novel, written over many years and rich in philosophical and spiritual ideas. Courttia Newland proposes a world where there was no African slave trade, no colonisation. A world in which European explorers instead learnt from peaceful contact with the result that African cosmology became the dominant world religion. It opens with an alternative timeline as we learn that in 1830 The Ark was built in Dinium (London) in order to save the lives of the many. Yet it quickly became a refuge for the elite, cut off from the rest of the world. Now only a select few are granted entrance. The novel opens in 2000 and introduces Markriss Denny, who is eventually among those chosen to enter the Ark. Once inside the Ark he discovers that it is a deeply flawed society and like others before him, who find themselves living in oppressive regimes, he has serious choices to make. He also has a closely guarded secret: his spirit leaves his body spontaneously. His ability to astral project allows him to experience a world beyond the physical and to become aware of a multiplicity of realities. This short description only scratches the surface of this complex novel. I appreciated the concept of a world free of historical slavery and colonialism and the incorporation of Kemetic religion and mythology including the gods of ancient Egypt being a natural part of everyday life. In his Afterword Courttia Newland details his sources for these aspects as well as for astral projection. Given my own experiences with various esoteric practices, I may be in a different position from readers who may come to this novel without familiarity with them. Overall, I feel that this is a important work of literary speculative fiction that was beautifully written and very thought-provoking. It is likely to be a novel that I will revisit for a deeper appreciation of its themes and multiple layers. Highly recommended.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Siobhan

    A River Called Time is an epic literary speculative fiction novel about an alternative world where colonialism never happened and Africa's influence upon London is vast. Markriss Denny grew up in the 'Outer' city, part of Dinium cut off from the Ark, a specially built inner city where only the elite may now live. He becomes, however, one of the few who are granted a job and home in the Ark, but he has a secret: his spirit can leave his body and travel beyond it. And then it turns out that time i A River Called Time is an epic literary speculative fiction novel about an alternative world where colonialism never happened and Africa's influence upon London is vast. Markriss Denny grew up in the 'Outer' city, part of Dinium cut off from the Ark, a specially built inner city where only the elite may now live. He becomes, however, one of the few who are granted a job and home in the Ark, but he has a secret: his spirit can leave his body and travel beyond it. And then it turns out that time isn't quite what he thought, and he's going to have to go up against it to stop another with the same kind of power. The concept and scope of the book are amazing, plunging you into a world full of African cosmology and a reimagined London but yet still with a lot of power injustice and media coverups. The philosophical side of it, with complex time and multiverse theory and astral projection and more, was fascinating, if probably went over my head somewhat at times. As someone who doesn't read much sci-fi or speculative fiction, I found it a lot more interesting than expected thanks to the ideas involved and the approachable writing style. From reading Newland's afterword, it's a clear a lot of research went into the ideas and narrative, and there's a lot to draw out of it. The novel is split into four parts (explaining how is too much of spoiler) and I did find it difficult to get into and understand the second part, taking a while to work out what was going on. By the third section, however, I was prepared, and it is a clever way of bringing out some of the resonances in a more familiar place, and then the fourth part is more of a conclusion. I wasn't always entirely sure what was going on (I tend to find this with novels using multiverse ideas), but I could always get back into it. A book that asks big questions and doesn't always give straightforward answers, A River Called Time is a complex piece of speculative fiction with a sharp look at social inequality and how the present could be different if the past hadn't involved colonialism.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tilly Fitzgerald

    From the moment you open this book and look at the timeline provided at the very beginning, you know you are in another world. Whilst certain events in time are there - the pyramids etc - you will notice that anything to do with European history or conquest is not there, because this story imagines a beautiful world in which slavery never existed and black lives are front and centre. Newland has not only built an incredibly complex and imaginative world with ‘The Ark’ and the areas around it, bu From the moment you open this book and look at the timeline provided at the very beginning, you know you are in another world. Whilst certain events in time are there - the pyramids etc - you will notice that anything to do with European history or conquest is not there, because this story imagines a beautiful world in which slavery never existed and black lives are front and centre. Newland has not only built an incredibly complex and imaginative world with ‘The Ark’ and the areas around it, but has also created one of the kindest and most humble leading characters I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with, Markriss. Whilst this world is pure imagination, the themes and troubles of this story are all too relevant - riots created by oppression and privilege are at the forefront of this novel, and Markriss has to make the decision to stay at his current “entry” type level in the Ark and revolt with the suffering people around him, or to keep his head down in order to try to rise up to the next level. With the power to transport himself (“astral projection”) to other worlds and timelines, Markriss is the only one who can make a difference - but will he be aware enough to do so? Spanning multiple timelines, worlds and versions of Markriss’s life, the only way to describe this novel is as an epic - it’s not something you can devour in a few hours, this book needs to be enjoyed slowly with no distractions in my opinion because it’s complicated and mind boggling and brilliant! So perhaps not an entry into the fantasy/sci-fi reading world but more of a challenging read. What I wouldn’t give for even a little of Newland’s imagination and gift for storytelling though...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    Firstly, I should point out I received an advance copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The rating is rounded up to 4 stars (but only slightly). A River Called Time is set in various parallel versions of a place generally known as the Ark. It uses African cosmology and decolonised history to inform where it goes and what it does with the narrative. It’s bold. It’s speculative. What’s strangest of all is how grounded each reality feels, how lived-in Markriss’s life feels each time. Firstly, I should point out I received an advance copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The rating is rounded up to 4 stars (but only slightly). A River Called Time is set in various parallel versions of a place generally known as the Ark. It uses African cosmology and decolonised history to inform where it goes and what it does with the narrative. It’s bold. It’s speculative. What’s strangest of all is how grounded each reality feels, how lived-in Markriss’s life feels each time. For a story with a focus on spirituality the main draw for me was how real the societies depicted felt and a curiosity towards what Markriss’s priorities were. I won’t pretend to like Markriss the protagonist that much. Sometimes he is active, other times passive; what was more interesting was the way the society of each reality operates. Newland does something very clever in later sections that turns some perceptions of the way similar events played out earlier on their head a bit. I can’t explain it much better without spoilers! Looking at other reviews, I think some readers have felt cheated by the reality shifts or preferred particular narrative strands to others which is valid. I would advise going into A River Called Time not sure what to expect and with an mind. Markriss is told he is searching for a rogue spirit on another plane but that isn’t the whole story and it doesn’t play out as a standard western narrative would - and nor should it. The book has been accused of being very literary. I can see why; I’d argue A River Called Time is playing with narrative expectations in a serious way.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Christine Librow0rm

    Firstly, thank you to NetGalley and Canongate Books for providing me with the e-arc of A River Called Time in exchange for my honest, unbiased review. The story is set in Dinium, a version of London rife with disease, violence & poverty; The few rich elite are housed and protected from this London in “the Ark”, an elite enclosure in the centre of the city. Markriss Denny, who grew up in the squalid suburbs has the power to Astra Liu project and wins a place in the Ark; A dream that soon becomes Firstly, thank you to NetGalley and Canongate Books for providing me with the e-arc of A River Called Time in exchange for my honest, unbiased review. The story is set in Dinium, a version of London rife with disease, violence & poverty; The few rich elite are housed and protected from this London in “the Ark”, an elite enclosure in the centre of the city. Markriss Denny, who grew up in the squalid suburbs has the power to Astra Liu project and wins a place in the Ark; A dream that soon becomes a nightmare. This dystopian story is set in a parallel London, with an alternative history connecting Europe and Africa since the times of Ancient Egypt, allowing African culture and magical abilities to flourish and grow, rather than being quashed by our history of colonialism. Like a true dystopian story, there is a mega-corp - E-Lul that controls the populace through crystal energy to deliver tranquil dreams and of course the capital’s recovery from the mysterious “War of Light” in 1814-18. Whilst I enjoyed the story, I will admit to some confusion during the mid-sections of the story - I understood that Markriss had to face his friend and astral rival Ayizan to save the world, but did struggle with a lot of the astral terms and events. The final 25% of the story does pull together the strange strands to fit the jigsaw together, and a fitting conclusion, but personally this wasn’t a story to my taste. I am happy that I was given the opportunity to read and review thus book, which started 2021 by taking me out of my comfort zone, and I do think that tit is an engaging story, that many will enjoy.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Katie Brock

    Thank you to Canongate and Netgalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for an honest review. I liked this book- it had an interesting concept, but I also think there were things about the book that could have been better. Nevertheless it’s nothing like I’ve ever read before. The idea we all have astral bodies really captivated me, and this was one of the reasons I kept reading. I wanted to see what Markriss saw and how the characters interacted with their astral forms. Technology has change Thank you to Canongate and Netgalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for an honest review. I liked this book- it had an interesting concept, but I also think there were things about the book that could have been better. Nevertheless it’s nothing like I’ve ever read before. The idea we all have astral bodies really captivated me, and this was one of the reasons I kept reading. I wanted to see what Markriss saw and how the characters interacted with their astral forms. Technology has changed to let them do this- they sleep in pods not beds which can monitor astral activity. The main character had a good voice, however, due to time passing, and no natural indication of transgression I felt like in some chapters he still sounds as young as he was at the start of the book. The change in time periods confused me, as I said above, as I couldn’t distinguish between them even though each section is labelled- each characters life changes in each section and that threw me off. As much as I liked seeing different sides of characters, I couldn’t make connections- then I realised it was a totally different timeline. Like a parallel world. I do love the futuristic element of London, even though we’re in 2020 in the novel, it works to show that there is still a divide between the classes but that everyone is of African descent so the race side of it doesn’t exist. Overall, it was an intriguing read and I’m glad I read it as I’d never read anything by this author and I’m trying to read more by authors of colour. 3/5 stars. It was almost a 2.5 but it picked itself up.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mark taylor

    I got A River Called Time by Courttia Newland from Netgalley for a fair and honest review. I decided to read this book because having enjoyed alternative history novels before, the thought of reading one based on the premise that the continent of Africa was never colonised by the European nations appealed to me. When I started reading this book, I was all enthusiastic as I said before the premise for the story was something that interested me, however, the book failed to live up to this. Firstly t I got A River Called Time by Courttia Newland from Netgalley for a fair and honest review. I decided to read this book because having enjoyed alternative history novels before, the thought of reading one based on the premise that the continent of Africa was never colonised by the European nations appealed to me. When I started reading this book, I was all enthusiastic as I said before the premise for the story was something that interested me, however, the book failed to live up to this. Firstly the alternative history, while I do not feel that this type of novel has to over show that it is set in an alternative timeline, but apart from a few paragraphs about the history in this timeline and occasionally people mentioning by Ra (an ancient Egyption god), there was very little for the reader to pick up on. The writing style for the book reminded me a lot of a Charles Dickens' novel, being written in a very dense style. Which is fine but when the plot line is a slow burner it did make a book which takes a long time to read, seem to take even longer. The book did have some good points, for example the lead characters job of being a Journalist, whose job it was to write stories to the advantage of the government even though they knew the stories were wrong. Who should read A River Called Time? This is a novel that needs a lot of time for a reader to sit down and just read the book, as it is not one which you can enjoy by reading a couple of pages on public transport going to and from work. So this book is for someone who can spare the time and concentration that this book needs, in other words it is the perfect book if you like immersing yourself in the writer's world if this is you then you should read, A River Called Time by Courttia Newland

  17. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    In an alternate London, Markriss finds he has the ability to jump to parallel universes. A River Called Time addresses themes of class, colonialism and colour. Newland wrestles with this intriguing concept, demonstrating a high degree of imagination. Ultimately, he fails to deliver on the promise. The introduction of several characters in the first chapter prevents the reader from getting to know each one. The characters, even the protagonist, remain flat throughout. The over-use of sentence fragmen In an alternate London, Markriss finds he has the ability to jump to parallel universes. A River Called Time addresses themes of class, colonialism and colour. Newland wrestles with this intriguing concept, demonstrating a high degree of imagination. Ultimately, he fails to deliver on the promise. The introduction of several characters in the first chapter prevents the reader from getting to know each one. The characters, even the protagonist, remain flat throughout. The over-use of sentence fragments grates. Elsewhere, sentences are overlong, and imprecise. Words such as 'seemed' (112 instances), 'almost' (96) and 'hardly' (26) weaken the meaning. Imagery falls short of the mark more often than not. Poor grammar and tautologies further alienate the reader. Where was the editor? The editorial reviews put me in mind of the emperor's new clothes. My thanks to NetGalley and Canongate Publishing for the ARC.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Eleanor

    As usual, I had no clue what to expect when I started this book. Right from the beginning, it was quite clear that this is certainly a work of speculative fiction - the word that came to mind for me specifically was abstract. While this did give the book a wonderfully unique feel, almost poetic, I did find it a little hard to follow at times. Maybe I'm just not the kind of person who fully appreciates speculative fiction. The book itself was rather confusing in general. It involved various 'versi As usual, I had no clue what to expect when I started this book. Right from the beginning, it was quite clear that this is certainly a work of speculative fiction - the word that came to mind for me specifically was abstract. While this did give the book a wonderfully unique feel, almost poetic, I did find it a little hard to follow at times. Maybe I'm just not the kind of person who fully appreciates speculative fiction. The book itself was rather confusing in general. It involved various 'versions' of the main character, Markriss, in alternate timelines. It also talked about chakras and astral projection, which is something I can't say I'm all that familiar with. Again, I want to emphasise that I did appreciate the originality of this, and I did enjoy reading it. I simply couldn't describe it to someone else - I'm not sure I entirely got it, to be honest. Some social themes were quite clear, too, such as social inequality and racism. However, I fear that I may have missed some of the important points due to the state of confusion I was in throughout much of this book. My favourite part of this book was the third section, where the story was set in modern-day London. This is probably because I could understand and relate to it much more. (There's a little subplot around a lesbian couple who want children which is rather intriguing, too.) It is a shame that I feel like I missed so much of this book. It's not the author's fault - I just didn't quite get it. I'm sure there were some really fantastic points made in this book, and I'm certain there are people who connected with it far more than I did. For me, this book gets 3 stars.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tali

    Thank you to netgallery and canongate publishers for allowing me to read this book. I highly enjoyed reading this book as it was a different view of a post apocalyptic world (potentially destroyed by war. Not really sure?). The book follows the protagonist Markiss through his life as a young boy growing up. As much as I did enjoy the book it's pacing made it a bit of a struggle to read at times but overall the story made up for it. I liked the plot weaving the different threads together, and prov Thank you to netgallery and canongate publishers for allowing me to read this book. I highly enjoyed reading this book as it was a different view of a post apocalyptic world (potentially destroyed by war. Not really sure?). The book follows the protagonist Markiss through his life as a young boy growing up. As much as I did enjoy the book it's pacing made it a bit of a struggle to read at times but overall the story made up for it. I liked the plot weaving the different threads together, and provide interesting commentary on the powerful themes. But I feel if your not a plot driven reader you might struggle a bit.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Anna Tan

    This was a risky request that didn't pan out. The storyline sounded interesting enough, but I don't do well with parallel worlds and time stuff. And then there were these out of body experiences and ka and each part happens in a different world but the same people with different characters?? idk. Wanted to DNF several times, ended up just finishing the whole thing, but not entirely sure what I read. Or why. Note: I received a digital ARC of this book from Canongate Books via NetGalley. Opinions e This was a risky request that didn't pan out. The storyline sounded interesting enough, but I don't do well with parallel worlds and time stuff. And then there were these out of body experiences and ka and each part happens in a different world but the same people with different characters?? idk. Wanted to DNF several times, ended up just finishing the whole thing, but not entirely sure what I read. Or why. Note: I received a digital ARC of this book from Canongate Books via NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Dawn

    I absolutely loved this book! The mix between the familiar and the unfamiliar makes "A River Called Time" a fascinating reading journey. The writing is so easy to read, with a really beautiful flow, though some parts did feel a little bit too slow. The characters are well-built and imaginative. The story is outstanding. This is a book that should become a classic. I'll be very surprised (and more than a little bit upset) if it doesn't. My thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley. This rev I absolutely loved this book! The mix between the familiar and the unfamiliar makes "A River Called Time" a fascinating reading journey. The writing is so easy to read, with a really beautiful flow, though some parts did feel a little bit too slow. The characters are well-built and imaginative. The story is outstanding. This is a book that should become a classic. I'll be very surprised (and more than a little bit upset) if it doesn't. My thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley. This review was written voluntarily and is entirely my own, unbiased, opinion.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Carl

    I started out loving this. Part one is full of powerful world and character building, and heaps of action. Then from the second part onward I got frequently lost in the mysticism and astral projection, which was fun and intriguing, but disrupted my enthusiasm for the overall narrative. It's an outstanding concept, and every section has enough of a hook to become deeply invested in, but buying into story rather than ideas left me feeling frustrated more than once. I reckon that rereading this woul I started out loving this. Part one is full of powerful world and character building, and heaps of action. Then from the second part onward I got frequently lost in the mysticism and astral projection, which was fun and intriguing, but disrupted my enthusiasm for the overall narrative. It's an outstanding concept, and every section has enough of a hook to become deeply invested in, but buying into story rather than ideas left me feeling frustrated more than once. I reckon that rereading this would provide a whole new (and better) experience.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Banjaxed

    This novel started so strongly and had me intrigued with the premise the author had envisioned. The prose and particularly the description are excellent. Not sure what happened but around 40% of this novel I started to lose interest and just couldn’t get it back. I found myself reading less and less every-time I picked up my Kindle. Im sorry to say that I eventually gave up at 50%. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the early copy.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ioana

    Thanks to Netgalley for a digital copy in exchange for an honest review :) This is a strange, but interesting dystopian world. The action happens in parallel London and you follow Markriss, who has an interesting power - his soul can leave his body. The world is very interestingly presented, there were times when the description was to detailed for my taste - to many details (repeated information) I really did not need to know to understand the world. Unfortunately, this book was not for me. To Thanks to Netgalley for a digital copy in exchange for an honest review :) This is a strange, but interesting dystopian world. The action happens in parallel London and you follow Markriss, who has an interesting power - his soul can leave his body. The world is very interestingly presented, there were times when the description was to detailed for my taste - to many details (repeated information) I really did not need to know to understand the world. Unfortunately, this book was not for me. To slow in places and I just wanted to skip entire paragraphs to get to the action. Considering how interesting the world is, I would have enjoyed this book more if it wasn't for the main character. I just could not stand him, at all... nothing made me care about him, his motivation, anything. Also, surprisingly I was annoyed by the love interest and the whole idea of soulmate was to much for me (I am not a big fan of romance of any kind, in general). I still think this book is worth giving a try. Again, the world is really interesting and well thought of.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lydia Timpson

    I got bored around the 15% mark. It felt like the plot just wasn't going to start and I wasn't invested enough in the main character to keep waiting. The few women that had been mentioned were all sexual objects with no personality of their own. I received a free eCopy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I got bored around the 15% mark. It felt like the plot just wasn't going to start and I wasn't invested enough in the main character to keep waiting. The few women that had been mentioned were all sexual objects with no personality of their own. I received a free eCopy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ed Morland

    An alternate world without European colonialism, an alternate London in the aftermath of a disaster, out-of-body experiences and variations of possibility. Definitely an odd read in that it left me unsure whether I failed to get it or wasn't supposed to but it was still well worth the ride. An alternate world without European colonialism, an alternate London in the aftermath of a disaster, out-of-body experiences and variations of possibility. Definitely an odd read in that it left me unsure whether I failed to get it or wasn't supposed to but it was still well worth the ride.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Carmen

    Review to follow.

  28. 5 out of 5

    safiyareads

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lewis Taylor

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ebony

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