Pages: 320 pages
Published: October 12, 2021
Publisher: Walker Books US
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal Fantasy, Adventure
After a deadly train crash, the afterlife is waiting for Dylan. But that’s only if she and her intriguing Ferryman can make it across the demon-infested wasteland—and if she can bear to let him go.
When Dylan wakes up after her train has crashed, she thinks she has survived unscathed. But she couldn’t be more mistaken: the bleak landscape around her isn’t Scotland, it’s a wasteland—a terrain somehow shaped by her own feelings and fears, a border to whatever awaits her in the afterlife. And the stranger sitting by the train track isn’t an ordinary teenage boy. Tristan is a Ferryman, tasked with guiding Dylan’s soul safely across the treacherous landscape, a journey he has made a thousand times before. Only this time, something’s different. The crossing, as ever, is perilous, with ravenous wraiths hounding the two at each day’s end, hungry for Dylan’s soul. But as Dylan focuses her strength on survival, with Tristan as protector, challenger, and confidant, she begins to wonder where she is truly meant to be—and what she must risk to get there.
In the past, fantasy books, particularly romantic ones, have always been a hit or miss with me. I always find them full of tropes and less about the story it is trying to tell. But lately, I have encountered some YA books that surprised me, such as The Good Hawk by Joseph Elliott. I’m glad to say that my reading experience with Ferryman by Claire McFall makes the list of one of my favorites.
The atmospheric setting and the compelling is what drew me into the story. I experienced the same feeling when I read The Last Witness, also by McFall and the first book I read by her. I felt immersed in this other world landscape. It’s hard to believe that McFall came up with this story in a dream, but the amount of detail and imagination put into this world-building should not be taken lightly. Dylan and Tristan’s adventure through this treacherous landscape pulls readers in, and it is just such a treat to read that kind of detail in a YA fantasy.
What I loved most about Ferryman is that the relationship between Dylan and Tristan is more than a romance. Who is the ferryman: is it Tristan or Dylan? This story isn’t about conquering the wraiths or overcoming obstacles for love. Dylan and Tristan’s journey is a path of self-discovery and growth, trying to figure themselves in a world that claims to have their identities figured out. Such a contemporary and realistic theme in a story that goes out the present mind. But what I also found fascinating about this story is that it dives into spirituality without having to go too spiritual. I don’t know if that is clear enough; however, it appeared that McFall wants readers to come up with their interpretations of what the afterlife means to the reader. It is a theme reflected in the way Dylan “views” the afterlife, but I’ll leave it there without revealing too much.
Honest and compelling writing, excellent character development, excellent world-building…the list could go on and on how this under the radar YA fantasy needs to be readers TBR pile. Ferryman by Claire McFall is unlike any book series readers will encounter, and they need to give this one a chance. I’m so glad this is part of a series, and I can’t wait to read more of this exciting story.