March 7, 2013

Review: Ferryman by Claire McFall

Title: Ferryman
Author: Claire McFall
Release Date: March 1st, 2013
Publisher: Templar
Page Count: 334
Source: Borrowed an ARC from Faye (but then I ended up buying it to share with all of you guys when I get back to the States)
Rating: ★★★★☆ 
When Dylan emerges from the wreckage of a train crash onto a bleak Scottish hillside, she meets a strange boy who seems to be waiting for her.

But Tristan is no ordinary teenage boy, and the journey across the desolate, wraith infested wasteland is no ordinary journey.

Life, death, love-which will Dylan choose?

[Summary Source: Goodreads]

Dylan gets into this wicked awful train crash, walks off the train and thinks she's the only one to survive when really, she's the only one to have died. SAY WHAT NOW? I don't know if it's my morbid curiosity but the minute I read the summary of this book I KNEW I'D HAVE TO READ IT.

Let's break this down: 

At first I thought I loved this book because it's a little like If I Stay with a little bit of the Greek Mythology type stuff we've been seeing in a lot of books recently. And I do love it for that, but then I was sitting around, still thinking about this book days after finishing and I REALIZED that yeah, it's a bit of the above, but really, it reminds me of Doctor Who.

Hear me out. Tristan is like the Doctor. He's this lonely Ferryman who's been alive for longer than he can remember. He's kind of emotionally detached from what he does and yet he still does it because that's his purpose. But he's a miserable, jaded Ferryman until he meets Dylan. Who's basically Rose (if we're working from the Doctor Who 2005 reboot. I haven't watched any of the earlier stuff). And Dylan, like Rose, is this plucky girl who doesn't behave like anyone Tristan has ever met before, which is what piques Tristan's interest in her. LIKE THE DOCTOR AND ROSE.

Of course, the plot line of Ferryman is totally different. It's not sci-fi, and even though the book's a journey through the afterlife, the story isn't about vanquishing the wraiths and saving all the souls, like it might be in a sci-fi/supernatural story. No, this story follows more of a contemporary story line - one of self-discovery and growth, done by both Tristan and Dylan. 

And now, considering I've outline the two main character, I'd like to talk a little bit more about them:

Dylan, I love. I feel like a lot of the times female leads get really boy-focused and, as such, the story suffers. And sure, Dylan is pretty Tristan-focused, but somehow Claire McFall MAKES THIS WORK. Probably because the story is about Dylan growing into herself and not just a girl simpering over a boy she can't have. So even if Tristan's her push a lot of the time (whether physically other otherwise), it's more about Dylan and her journey than Dylan pining after Tristan. It's a delicate balance but it's books like this one that prove IT CAN BE DONE, y'know? Like, a girl can be REALLY into a guy, but still be a compelling character.

Then there's Tristan. Oh please Tristan. I will take one of him please. His character is SO INTERESTING because of what he is (who he is as well, but the what's pretty clutch here). There's so much incredible depth that not only do you not mind the POV shifts, but you kind of WANT them.

Yeah, that's right, the POV shifts. And not just chapter to chapter (although that happens sometimes). It's more of a mid-chapter shift. It's subtle and smooth (at least for me), although I think I can see why some people might have problems with it. I honestly feel like it's one of those things where Tristan, as Ferryman, knows EVERYTHING about Dylan and as such, the whole story is really coming from Tristan who's relaying Dylan's POV while interjecting bits and pieces of what he feels along the way. Which could be how the story's supposed to be read. Or maybe just me making stuff up to be meta or whatever. But either way, it's like, y'know when you read a story and it's from the girl's POV and you're like I JUST WANT TO KNOW WHAT HE'S THINKING FOR 30 SECONDS. Well, Claire McFall lets you have those 30 seconds and while said seconds remove reader uncertainty in regards to Tristan's intentions, there's still the tension there because Dylan can't possibly know.

I hope you guys followed all that. And are now prepared for me to gush about the romance. Because IT IS THERE. Oh guys. The big kissing scene? I got the tinglies. The whole relationship is just so incredibly complicated. In fact, one might call it a forbidden love and, in case you guys didn't know, FORBIDDEN LOVE STORIES ARE THE BEST LOVE STORIES. I mean, I'm not the biggest fan of Romeo and Juliet because everyone dies, but most of us just overlook the fact that Juliet was 14 and that they'd only been together for 3 days because WHOA forbidden love is phenom.

So good characters, great development, compelling story, KISSING and lovely prose (which I haven't mentioned before but I just did so, yeah). Why does this book only get 4 stars? Because I feel like the ending happened a little fast. I have about a hundred questions at the end of the book. Mostly: HOWHOWHOWHOWHOW (100 times over). I feel like not enough of the rules of the world were laid out.

And y'know what? That'd be totally fine if I knew FOR SURE that there's gonna be another book. But as a standalone, there's not enough closure here for me. I do occasionally enjoy a slightly open-ended story, but there are just TOO MANY loose ends in this one for me to be cool with it. So like, instead of my insides just feeling FEELSY over this one, they feel FEELSY and a little bit unsatisfied and rushed. It's like I'm eating the best piece of cheesecake EVER and I'm savoring and loving but then, when I get to the last four amazing bites, someone's like HURRY UP YOU HAVE A TRAIN TO CATCH and so the last bites are so wonderful, but not the appropriate finale for the best piece of cheesecake EVER.

The long and short of it?

Plot: I would like it very much if I could read more stories like this. Or to just watch Doctor Who everyday for the rest of my life.
World Building: I'm not sure I really understood THE RULES, but the lay of the land is pretty solid.
Character Development: The whole book is seeped in amazing character development and I love it.
Prose: Sweet and oh so very honest.
Would I Recommend This Book?: This one's a little different sounding, but I think it is, at it's base, very much contemporary (despite the sci-fi/supernatural leanings). As such, I'll be pushing this one on hesitant. Also, this book's only out in the UK, but FEAR NOT MY DARLINGS! I bought a copy to lend out when I get home. Get exciiiiited lovely friends in the States!

Come with me and read this book.
But really I just wanted to add in another David Tennant gif

Have you heard of this one? Are you a UK reader who can get their hands on a copy? If you're from the good ol' US of A, would you want to borrow it when I get home? Let me know in the comments below - I'm making a list! ^_^


  1. This sounds like an amazing book! I must get my hands on it!

    1. Yes!! Glad you like the sound of it! I want EVERYONE to read it. :)

  2. Ooh, this sounds really good! I might have to order one from Amazon UK...

    The gifs? Molto Bene!

    1. It is POSSIBLE American Amazon might have copies, but from an independent seller, not a warehouse (so like $4 shipping or whatever). BN doesn't have a copy for sure. There's a link to American Amazon attached to the title if you need it :)

  3. Love all the David Tennant and Doctor Who love in this review! :) I may have to check it out JUST for that reason! :)

    1. SERIOUSLY. When I finished this book I was like I KNOW THIS FEELING and it took me forever to place it. Then again, I could be wrong. So I think all the Doctor Who fans should read it and let me know if I'm totally wrong or not.

  4. Okay, totally adding this book to my to read list! It sounds oh so sososossoso good!

    1. YAAAAAAAAY! I'm so excited for everyone who's going to read this one (especially the people who are going to read it because of me. Who I knew I had this much power?!).

  5. This sounds like it could be a pretty darn good book to read! I'm intrigued by the idea of what Tristan does, and I'd like to see how the romance comes in. All in all, wonderful review Gaby - I now want to check this out!

    1. YES DO!! You can always borrow it from my in May. Or I think American Amazon has a few copies :)

  6. "But really, I just wanted add in another David Tenant gif" Bahaha. Yes. That is the best. I doubt I'd read the book because it's not exactly my style, but now I just want someone to write me YA Doctor Who (without being a complete ripoff, obvs.) Can someone do this for me? Anyone?
    Great review, and I'm down with any Doctor Who comparisons, any time ;P

    1. I totally get why this wouldn't be someone's cup of tea, but I totally agree on the YA DW non-rip off bit. SOMEONE GET TO IT.

  7. Oh my God: I hadn't even realised that this is like Doctor Who but now you mention it... I SO SEE IT!! I think I love it even more now!
    Thank you for the amazing review - and the gifs too! ;)

    1. I'm SO GLAD I'm not the only one who sees the likeness to Doctor Who. ^_^

      Oh, and YOU'RE WELCOME.


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