23 August 2014

Into the Canyon by Michael Neale

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An exhilarating, powerful story from the bestselling author of The River.

Some stories take generations to unfold.

Gabriel Clarke has The River in his blood: The River that he loved as a child. The River that took his father, John. The River he feared, fled... and has come back to now.

Jacob Fielding owes the last twenty years of his life to John Clarke – the stranger who drowned saving him and his brother from their own boyish recklessness. Since that day, Jacob’s gratitude has extended to everyone around him... especially Gabriel, that brave man’s son.

But while the death of John Clarke became a powerful force for good in Jacob, it has been an unshakable source of darkness in another man. When gratitude and guilt meet at the River, two decades after that fateful day, Gabriel finds himself face-to-face with a stark choice for his own future: anger or forgiveness, hatred or love, death or life.

So much more than an allegory, Into the Canyon will inspire you to love deeply, forgive extravagantly, and live large.

The picturesque cover of Michael Neale’s Into the Canyon first drew my attention to the novel. The rushing waterfall made me imagine characters in the wilderness, surrounded by majestic mountains, swiftly winding rivers, towering trees, and I was excited to immerse myself in the setting. And as I read, I loved the role the surrounding nature played in the story, and the characters often had adventures rafting, hiking and fishing. This setting proved a beautiful one for this story of new beginnings.

However, I was unprepared for the complete reverence with which the characters refer to “The River.” I have not read Neale’s previous novel, The River, which gives the beginning of Gabriel Clarke’s experience at The River, and maybe reading it first would have helped me acclimate to their manner of thinking. I understood the intention of symbolic meaning for The River, but with just Into the Canyon to form my opinion, the continued river worship felt odd and didn’t completely work for me.

Also, Neale’s simple, basic writing didn’t help. To me, the characters came across shallow, despite their constant need to have deep conversations, and while they are likeable enough, I never truly connected with any of them. Their emotion is limited, and their dialogue (in word choice and phrasing) often seemed out-of-character, especially with the unnecessary abundance of “…” and “!”.

Yet, despite the flaws I perceived, Into the Canyon is still a nice, uplifting story and definitely a quick read. I think readers who read and enjoyed The River will certainly want to pick it up and see where Gabriel’s story goes. (I would not recommend reading Into the Canyon before The River.)

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers, I received a copy of Into the Canyon and the opportunity to honestly review it. I was not required to write a positive review, and all the opinions I have expressed are my own. (I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”)

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