BOOK REVIEW: The River King by Alice Hoffman
The story centres on an elite private boarding school built on the banks of the Haddan River, Massachusetts. For more than a century, the small town of Haddan has been divided; those born and bred in the town on one side, and those attending the school on the other.
Then, one winter's night, a student of the school is found drowned in the river and the two worlds collide.
Hoffman's prose is spell-binding, and she describes a gothic, haunted world that is like our own, but seems timeless.
Her characters are mesmerising, too. From the ill-fated student and school misfit, August Pierce and his only friend Carlin Leander, to Abel Grey, the police officer who refuses to let Haddan history - and the school's power - maintain silence.
The plot builds into a murder mystery intertwined with a love story. And there's a ghost, too. It is the mark of a truly great writer that these elements seem utterly at home together.
The River King is Hoffman at her very best: atmospheric and lyrical prose, layered with magic and passion and mystery.
Like this? Try: The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman.