Quill and Quire


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by Tristan Hughes

If only Tristan Hughes had really gone for it, his third novel, Revenant, would have fared so much better. There’s nothing overly wrong with the book, but it just doesn’t quite make the leap from “good” to “gripping.”
    Three characters share narrative duty, describing from their own points of view a tragedy that occurred 13 years earlier, when they were shifting from the relative safety of childhood into adolescence. Neil, the shy, skinny kid, has summoned Steph, the pretty townie, and Ricky, the fatherless bad-ass, back to their small Welsh town to mark the anniversary of the drowning of Del, their childhood quartet’s ringleader. Each recounts the events leading up to the accident, and while all of the right pieces for an engaging story are there, they just don’t fully come together.
    Partly to blame for this flaw is that the characters are two-dimensional. Del, who holds some strange power over the others, has little to offer other than her seeming fearlessness and overbearing nature, both of which contribute to her ultimate demise.
    The upshot is that it’s hard to be affected by Del’s death or by its impact on the other three. Ultimately, Revenant is much like the sea that claims Del: there are strong currents beneath, but the surface is flat.