It was a structure built to save the lives of many, but the Ark rapidly became a refuge for the elite and then its entrance closed without warning.

Years later, a chance to live within the confines of the Ark is granted to a select few who can prove their worth. Markriss Denny is one of the chosen but soon realises that life within the Ark is not as promised.

Markriss also has a secret that could jeopardise his future; he can leave his body without warning and in the Ark he learns of another with the same power, but whose existence could spell catastrophe for humanity. Charged with destroying the other, Markriss is forced into a desperate race to understand his abilities and uncover the truth about himself, the Ark and the people he thought he knew.

A River Called Time is an ambitious book in concept and delivery. The novel is set in futuristic versions of London, where Newland draws clear parallels with our present with the depictions of social inequality, protest, and violence and a media and government which have a distant relationship with the truth. But so many ideas, themes, and plot lines (and plot twists) flow through the novel, that at times it was hard for my lockdown-addled brain to keep up. But don’t let that deter you, although I didn’t absolutely love it, the novel is definitely a good read with enough going on to keep you engaged during those long lockdown evenings.

Courttia Newland is a skillful storyteller and in someone else’s hands this novel might not have worked and might have come across a little bit too self-indulgent. But he strikes the balance just right, moving almost seamlessly between storytelling, teaching and positing ideas around spirituality, Afrofuturism, cosmology, politics and a host of other insights. I really liked how he created a world or rather worlds in which colonialism never existed and the dominant religion or school of thought and culture is Afrocentric rather Eurocentric, which contrasts so sharply with the way we are taught to think and see the world which we inhabit.

A River Called Time is not typically the kind of novel genre I would choose to read, but I’m glad I stepped out of my comfort zone to read it, and I would recommend that others do so too. If you like your fiction, speculative, futuristic, deep and enriching this may well be the one for you.


A River Called Time by Courttia Newland is available to buy from most online book retailers.