I have always thought it strange that the element that we need to live, water is also the one that can kill us really easily. We are fortunate enough to be able to get clean fresh water from the tap, but years ago finding sources of this life-sustaining liquid was a challenge. This is probably why many cultures have treated rivers and pools with reverence and awe.

This need also became had a ritual side, hence why ancient artefacts are frequently found in rivers and pools; offerings to a water deity that is almost totally forgotten. Except some of those stories can still be found in the folklore that has been passed down to us today.

In this book, Chainey and Winsham have drawn these stories from all over the world. So we can learn about the Legend of Cristalda and Pizzomunno of the coast of Puglia, Italy, fables from islands all over the world, and tales from the seven seas. There are short essays on the hidden rivers of London and the last river that some people would cross on the way to the other side, Acheron.

I was surprised how many stories had common themes, something that the authors point out in the short book. I liked this and thought that it was a good introduction to all things watery and folklore related. If you are expecting the actual stories then you might be disappointed, rather you should think of this as a springboard to use the comprehensive bibliography to read wider. It is a beautiful book too, with glorious gold detailing on the cover. I loved the artwork by Joe McLaren that is used liberally throughout the book.

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