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A River Called Time

3.42  ·  Rating details ·  24 ratings  ·  19 reviews
A monumental speculative fiction story of love, loyalty, politics and conscience set in parallel Londons

The Ark was built to save the lives of the many, but rapidly became a refuge for the elite, the entrance closed without warning.

Years after the Ark was cut off from the world, a chance of survival within its confines is granted to a select few who can prove their worth.
Hardcover, UK edition, 464 pages
Published January 7th 2021 by Canongate Books Ltd.
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Average rating 3.42  · 
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 ·  24 ratings  ·  19 reviews

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Katrina Evans
Jan 03, 2021 rated it did not like it
This book started off amazing - the characters, the setting everything felt really fresh and intriguing and I was utterly absorbed.

Then there was a scene where violence against a woman was used as a reason for another character (male) to act. I did raise my eyebrows a bit but carried on then when I realised that there was nothing else to this incident, it was just a throw away plot point (no consequences for the perpetrator, very real but glossed over consequences for the victim and the MC basi
Dec 30, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley, read-2020
I have very mixed feelings about A River Called Time and for most of the time I spent reading it (which was several months!) I was sure I was going to rate it two stars. However, it redeemed itself at the last minute and I ended up feeling quite fond of it, so three stars it is.

A lot of other reviewers seemed to give up in the middle of this book (40-60%) and I was very nearly one of them. It is very slow going and the pacing is definitely a weakness. The plot just takes forever to properly star
Kay Smillie
This book's cover and blurb attracted me straight off the bat, and it sounded like my kind of book. I haven't read anything by this author, so that was another positive tick in a box. I really enjoy finding authors I've not come across previously and becoming a convert.

The book started off very strongly and completely captured my attention and imagination. I was really interested in what was happening, but then I started to struggle. The writing is expressive, descriptive, and absolutely beautif
Jan 03, 2021 rated it did not like it
Hugely disappointing as the first fifth sets up an interesting story and world but throws it away in hackneyed Chosen One plots of parallel worlds but with excessive exposition, description and wafer thin female characters - a mess

Full review -
Nov 12, 2020 marked it as unfinished
I received an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

The title, cover and description pique my interest - and the action-packed opening scene of young boys exploring a future, derelict London sucks me right in. Unfortunately, I quickly lost steam and have decided not to finish at the 50% mark.

The premise and world-building are fascinating. The story is set in Dinium, a post-apocalyptic London in a world ravaged by war (I think). The skies are thick with red clouds, the general population suffers
Jan 14, 2021 rated it liked it
Courttia Newman has written a novel in which lots goes on. It’s an alternative future history of London and by implication the UK and Africa too. There’s family history, romance and revolution, multiverses and astral projection. At times there’s so much going on that you wonder whether Newman can keep a hold on all the strands he’s set in motion.

We start in a dystopian future London - in which the city is divided into two. Makriss is a talented student whose excellence buys him a Golden Ticket f
Sonia Williams
Jan 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
I finished this book a week ago and felt the need for it to settle in my head before I wrote a review. I was taken by the description and it was indeed an interesting read, possibly not something I would normally have picked up but would definitely recommend.

This is a book in four parts starting in an alternative post-apocalyptic London referred to as Dinium . In the first section we meet our protagonist Markriss and his childhood friend Nesta, we also get the first inkling that travel in spirit
An extraordinary work of literary speculative fiction

‘A River Called Time’ by Courttia Newland is an extraordinary novel, written over many years and rich in philosophical and spiritual ideas. Courttia Newland proposes a world where there was no African slave trade, no colonisation. A world in which European explorers instead learnt from peaceful contact with the result that African cosmology became the dominant world religion.

It opens with an alternative timeline as we learn that in 1830 The
Nov 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
A River Called Time is an epic literary speculative fiction novel about an alternative world where colonialism never happened and Africa's influence upon London is vast. Markriss Denny grew up in the 'Outer' city, part of Dinium cut off from the Ark, a specially built inner city where only the elite may now live. He becomes, however, one of the few who are granted a job and home in the Ark, but he has a secret: his spirit can leave his body and travel beyond it. And then it turns out that time i ...more
Tilly Fitzgerald
Jan 09, 2021 rated it really liked it

From the moment you open this book and look at the timeline provided at the very beginning, you know you are in another world. Whilst certain events in time are there - the pyramids etc - you will notice that anything to do with European history or conquest is not there, because this story imagines a beautiful world in which slavery never existed and black lives are front and centre.

Newland has not only built an incredibly complex and imaginative world with ‘The Ark’ and the areas around it, bu
Jan 12, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Firstly, I should point out I received an advance copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The rating is rounded up to 4 stars (but only slightly).

A River Called Time is set in various parallel versions of a place generally known as the Ark. It uses African cosmology and decolonised history to inform where it goes and what it does with the narrative. It’s bold. It’s speculative. What’s strangest of all is how grounded each reality feels, how lived-in Markriss’s life feels each time.
Christine Kelly
Jan 02, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: january-2021
Firstly, thank you to NetGalley and Canongate Books for providing me with the e-arc of A River Called Time in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.

The story is set in Dinium, a version of London rife with disease, violence & poverty; The few rich elite are housed and protected from this London in “the Ark”, an elite enclosure in the centre of the city.

Markriss Denny, who grew up in the squalid suburbs has the power to Astra Liu project and wins a place in the Ark; A dream that soon becomes
Katie Brock
Thank you to Canongate and Netgalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for an honest review.

I liked this book- it had an interesting concept, but I also think there were things about the book that could have been better. Nevertheless it’s nothing like I’ve ever read before.

The idea we all have astral bodies really captivated me, and this was one of the reasons I kept reading. I wanted to see what Markriss saw and how the characters interacted with their astral forms. Technology has change
Mark taylor
Dec 31, 2020 rated it liked it
I got A River Called Time by Courttia Newland from Netgalley for a fair and honest review.

I decided to read this book because having enjoyed alternative history novels before, the thought of reading one based on the premise that the continent of Africa was never colonised by the European nations appealed to me.

When I started reading this book, I was all enthusiastic as I said before the premise for the story was something that interested me, however, the book failed to live up to this.

Firstly t
Dec 23, 2020 rated it it was ok
In an alternate London, Markriss finds he has the ability to jump to parallel universes.

A River Called Time addresses themes of class, colonialism and colour.

Newland wrestles with this intriguing concept, demonstrating a high degree of imagination. Ultimately, he fails to deliver on the promise.

The introduction of several characters in the first chapter prevents the reader from getting to know each one. The characters, even the protagonist, remain flat throughout.

The over-use of sentence fragmen
Nov 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thank you to netgallery and canongate publishers for allowing me to read this book.

I highly enjoyed reading this book as it was a different view of a post apocalyptic world (potentially destroyed by war. Not really sure?). The book follows the protagonist Markiss through his life as a young boy growing up.
As much as I did enjoy the book it's pacing made it a bit of a struggle to read at times but overall the story made up for it.
I liked the plot weaving the different threads together, and prov
Dec 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
I absolutely loved this book! The mix between the familiar and the unfamiliar makes "A River Called Time" a fascinating reading journey. The writing is so easy to read, with a really beautiful flow, though some parts did feel a little bit too slow. The characters are well-built and imaginative. The story is outstanding. This is a book that should become a classic. I'll be very surprised (and more than a little bit upset) if it doesn't.

My thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley. This rev
Dec 29, 2020 rated it liked it
This novel started so strongly and had me intrigued with the premise the author had envisioned. The prose and particularly the description are excellent. Not sure what happened but around 40% of this novel I started to lose interest and just couldn’t get it back. I found myself reading less and less every-time I picked up my Kindle. Im sorry to say that I eventually gave up at 50%.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the early copy.
Ed Morland
Jan 05, 2021 rated it really liked it
An alternate world without European colonialism, an alternate London in the aftermath of a disaster, out-of-body experiences and variations of possibility. Definitely an odd read in that it left me unsure whether I failed to get it or wasn't supposed to but it was still well worth the ride. ...more
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Courttia Newland is a British writer of Jamaican and Bajan heritage.

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