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The Whisper

Volume II in The Riverman Trilogy

"A whisper is a monster with many mouths. It invites, it infests, it assures: I am not for all ears, I am just for you."

Twelve-year-old Alistair Cleary has washed up on shore. But where? It seems to be Aquavania, the magical realm where children create entire worlds from their imagination. There’s something wrong, though. The creators have disappeared and the worlds are falling apart. All Alistair wants is to find his friend Fiona Loomis and go home. Easier said than done. Animals made of starlight, a megalomaniacal boy king, and astronauts who peddle riddles are hard enough to outwit, but they’re only the beginning. To find Fiona, Alistair must travel from world to world. He must confront the mistakes of his past. And he must face countless monsters, including the soul-stealing stalker that some people call the Riverman, the merciless but misunderstood servant of Aquavania who refers to himself as the Whisper.

"A riveting, imaginative, disconcerting, inscrutable, unresolved sequel, guaranteed to leave readers anxious for the finale." - Kirkus Reviews (*starred review*)

"Penning something of a cautionary tale, Starmer has constructed a multitude of worlds here, all tied to power of creation, and the boredom that power ultimately bestows. VERDICT: Ending with a staggering twist, readers adept at navigating this atemporal telling will clamor to get their hands on book three" - School Library Journal (*starred review*)

"Starmer’s sequel has more layers than Christmas ribbon candy and hops around and back and forth through time. What is real and what is fantasy? Are the story threads connected? Readers will find the possibilities numerous. The main characters, Alistair, Fiona, and Charlie, are multidimensional and often funny...fantasy lovers up to the challenge will devour The Whisper and crave the third book in the trilogy." - VOYA Magazine

 A Junior Library Guild Spring 2015 selection

The Whisper is published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, a division of Macmillan. It is represented by Michael Bourret at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management.

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March 17, 2015

The Riverman

Volume I in The Riverman Trilogy

"To sell a book, you need a description on the back. So here's mine: My name is Fiona Loomis. I was born on August 11, 1977. I am recording this message on the morning of October 13, 1989. Today I am thirteen years old. Not a day older. Not a day younger."

Fiona Loomis is Alice, back from Wonderland. She is Lucy, returned from Narnia. She is Coraline, home from the Other World. She is the girl we read about in storybooks, but here's the difference: She is real.

Twelve-year-old Alistair Cleary is her neighbor in a town where everyone knows each other. One afternoon, Fiona shows up at Alistair's doorstep with a strange proposition. She wants him to write her biography. What begins as an odd vanity project gradually turns into a frightening glimpse into a clearly troubled mind. For Fiona tells Alistair a secret. In her basement there's a gateway and it leads to the magical world of Aquavania, the place where stories are born. In Aquavania, there's a creature called the Riverman and he's stealing the souls of children. Fiona's soul could be next.

Alistair has a choice. He can believe her, or he can believe something else...something even more terrifying.

"An ominous awareness of loss flows all the way through Aaron Starmer’s riveting and sophisticated novel for younger adolescents…There is plenty of surprise, though, and it resides in almost everything else that happens in this emotionally complex tale…The story of what follows…unfolds with disarming naturalness, yet every page feels so carefully written that, although we can’t predict what will take place, we feel certain that the author knows exactly where he is taking us." - Wall Street Journal

"Starmer weaves his fictional cloth out of gritty realism (there is a great dare scene) and sparkly fantasy, holding the whole together with lovely, careful language." - Newsday

"The Riverman is a delightful and surprising first installment of a new trilogy that should have broad appeal. This novel has humor, action, emotion, and an eerie, unsettling premise that is never quite absent from the reader’s mind. Things that matter are at stake. This book takes itself seriously in exactly the right sort of way: It is unflinching in asking honest questions and confronting dark moments." - Christian Science Monitor

"Lines between reality and fantasy blur in this powerful, disquieting tale of lost children, twisted friendship and the power of storytelling." - Kirkus Reviews (*starred review*)

"In this dark, twisting tale, readers are never sure if Fiona’s story is true or not, and they won’t want to stop reading until they find out...this magical tale is sure to please readers of urban fantasy, and with its theme of missing children and changing friendships, it will be perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman and Charles de Lint, too." - Booklist

"This novel built of stories yields nightmares...This writerly, chiaroscuro book is replete with the portent of violence, and thick with ideas about the  psychological need for stories, all while questioning the ability of stories to redeem the tellers. Readers will find themselves confronted with deep, unanswered questions regarding the relationship of collective imaginary worlds to reality, the evolving nature of memories and friendships, and the unknowability of people. Those ready to explore darker realities will devour this book." - School Library Journal

"Somewhere between Holly Black's Doll Bones and Nova Ren Suma's 17 & Gone in audience and tone, this blend of magical realism and mystery blurs the line between reality and fantasy, setting up a creepy unease that both disturbs and propels the reader forward...the deliciously tangled web of a plot defies categorization." - The Bulletin of the Center For Children's Books (recommended)

"Starmer explores the relationship between creation and theft, reality and fantasy in this haunting novel...the novel's strength is in the pervasive aura of unknowing that Starmer creates and sustains." - Publisher's Weekly

"The Riverman contains plenty of boisterous action—mischief nights with “eggings”—and dialogue peppered with enough “greasy farts” talk to entertain middle schoolers. Alistair, Fiona, and Charlie are memorable characters. The amazing Fiona-controlled Aquavania where chocolate-chip-mint ice cream covers the ground will also delight fantasy readers. But this story also incorporates deeper story threads ripe for exploration...There is a lot to ponder and recommend in this unusual tale." - VOYA Magazine

"Every culture has a magical river story. Some rivers promise the pleasures of eternal youth, while others promise the paradise of eternal salvation. The Riverman promises a more exhilarating alternative. Dive into this book and you may never resurface." - Jack Gantos, Newbery Award-winning author of Dead End in Norvelt

"It’s like Mr. Starmer wrote this manuscript and then relentlessly hammered on the backspace key until only the most compelling elements remained.  It makes scores of books seem ponderous by comparison. The plot moves along nicely, but there’s excellent writing as well. Emotions and relationships feel honest. Characters are memorable. The setting is well-delineated. The creation of mood is off the charts ." - Travis Jonker, School Library Journal's "100 Scopes Notes" blog

"As far as I'm concerned, this is one of the best of 2014...Once everyone’s read it, I’m going to have SO much more to say. A good book does that. It gives your tongue wings. The Riverman may creep you out and make you want to hide under the covers for a good long while, but just TRY to set it down. Can’t be done. And that is what I look for in a book." - Betsy Bird, School Library Journal's "Fuse #8" blog

 A Wall Street Journal Best of 2014 selection

 A Junior Library Guild Summer 2014 selection

 An IndieNext Spring 2014 selection

 An Amazon Best Books of Spring (9-12)

 A Publisher's Weekly Pick of the Week

 A Children's Book Council March 2014 Pick

The Riverman is published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, a division of Macmillan. It is represented by Michael Bourret at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management.

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March 18, 2014

The Only
The Only Ones

"Call it coincidence, call it fate. This is the place you come. There's nowhere else. There's no one else. This is the entire world."

These words welcome Martin Maple to the village of Xibalba. Like the other children who've journeyed there, he faces an awful truth.

He was forgotten.

When families and friends all disappeared one afternoon, these were the only ones left behind. There's Darla, who drives a monster truck, Felix, who uses string and wood to rebuild the Internet, Lane, who crafts elaborate contraptions, and nearly forty others, each equally brilliant and peculiar.

Inspired by the prophesies of a mysterious boy who talks to animals, Martin believes he can reunite them with their loved ones. But believing and knowing are two different things, as he soon discovers with the push of a button, flip of a switch, turn of a dial...

"One of the most unique, captivating books I've ever read. I was completely pulled into its pages and they never let me go." - James Dashner, bestselling author of The Maze Runner

"Both literary and engaging, this is the kind of book readers will want to return to for new discoveries." - Kirkus Reviews

"Starmer’s science-fiction fable ultimately becomes gripping and haunting as the characters explore matters of faith, leadership, and responsibility, culminating in a reflective, bittersweet conclusion worthy of Neil Gaiman." - School Library Journal

"Starmer weaves an enchanting tale full of mystery and magic. The novel includes moments of gentle humor that contrast with despair and sadness, creating a perfect balance." - VOYA Magazine

A Junior Library Guild Fall 2011 selection.

The Only Ones is published by Delacorte Press, a division of Random House. It is represented by Elisabeth Weed at Weed Literary.

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September 13, 2011

                Burgers, Beasts and Brainwashed Bullies
Dweeb: Burgers, Beasts, and Brainwashed Bullies

Imagine you're 10. If you are actually 10, then imagine you're you. What would you like to read about?

Monkeys? Sure. Wizards? Makes sense. Ponies? I guess that's possible, but I wouldn't go telling people that. How about this? Five flawed but loveable loners become embroiled in a vast conspiracy involving fast food, standarized testing and growling creatures. Sound like a yawn? Okay. What if I said an evil vice principal imprisons those five loners in the basement of their junior high school and they have to use all their nerdish skills to break out?

Still not doing it for you? Well it did it for School Library Journal. They proclaimed that "this fun romp is a break from the often-heavy realistic fiction that is omnipresent in today's literature." Got it? It's fun. A romp, for crying out loud! An enemy of omnipresence.

Cynics are still shaking their heads. "School Library Journal?" they're saying. "That old rag." To them, I wag a finger, then point it to the unimpeachable The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books. This is what they said. "The themes will all resonate; from the anxiety over high-stakes testing to the unfairness of detention-loving vice principals to the hotness of school nurses, this whacks all of the eighth-grade nerd-boy moles...Give this to nerds and non-nerds who are just beginning to be a little bit cynical about their schooling experience." The BCCB suffers no fools. When they say something is for cynics, it's not advice. It's an order. Buy it. Give it. Buy it again.

An Association of Booksellers for Children 2009 New Voices Pick

DWEEB is published by Delacorte Press, a division of Random House. It is represented by Elisabeth Weed at Weed Literary.

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October 13, 2009

Mountain Man Dance Moves, The McSweeney's Book of Lists

There are literally hundreds of good reasons to read this book from the incorrigible scamps at McSweeney's.  There are two great ones.

Buried in the unicorn humor and hipster posturing are my lists about Ted Nugent and Jan Michael Vincent. They will forever change the way you look at muskrats and pyramids.

Give those McSweeney's folks some credit. They find and foster young, idiosyncratic talent, and while you may not recognize most of the names in this slight and slightly silly book, I guarantee that more than a couple will become future literary luminaries. And, as an added bonus, I present you with something not featured in the book, my list about Beetle Bailey. It's best read with a cup of postum and an imagination.

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September 12, 2006

                  Man Dance Moves
Best in Tent Camping, New York State

If you've always had a roof above you, if you've always paid the rent. If you've never even set foot inside a tent...

If you can't build a fire to save your life. If you've lied about being the outdoor type. Then you probably shouldn't get this book. Otherwise, grab yourself a copy, stuff it in your backpack and head over to the Empire State. My wife Cate, my brother Tim, and yours truly will be your guides to the finest places to pitch a tent. Because one thing's for sure. You're not crashing on our couches.

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October 29, 2013

Best in Tent Camping - New York State