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River Rising (Carson Chronicles, #1) by John A. Heldt

Weeks after his parents disappear on a hike, engineer Adam Carson, 27, searches for answers. Then he discovers a secret web site and learns his mom and dad are time travelers stuck in the past. Armed with the information he needs to find them, Adam convinces his younger siblings to join him on a rescue mission to the 1880s.

While Greg, the adventurous middle brother, follows leads in the Wild West, Adam, journalist Natalie, and high school seniors Cody and Caitlin do the same in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Like the residents of the bustling steel community, all are unaware of a flood that will destroy the city on May 31, 1889.

In RIVER RISING, the first novel in the Carson Chronicles series, five young adults find love, danger, and adventure as they experience America in the age of bustle dresses, gunslingers, and robber barons.
Source: I received a free copy of this book and opted to post a review.
Genre: Historical Fiction, Time Travel
Format: eBook, Print
Publication Date: September 18, 2017
Series: Carson Chronicles


I've read all of the books in Heldt's time travel/historical fiction series, Northwest Passage and American Journey, and have been impressed by all of them. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to read this book and it did not disappoint!

The Carson family's parents have been missing for six months and are presumed dead. When the oldest son, Adam, receives a strange letter from his parents saying that they are time travelers, he and his brothers and sisters conclude that their parents are stuck in the 1880's and decide to travel back in time to search for them.

Thinking that they will travel to Arizona in the 1880's, the family is surprised when they emerge in Pennsylvania. Realizing that their parents found themselves in the same place, the family settles in for the long haul as they search across the country for their parents.

The setting and tone of this book are a deviation from Heldt's norm. In his past books, Heldt kept the tone a light-hearted and sentimental, even when tragedy struck; however, the light-heartedness and sentimentality take a back seat when tragedy strikes and the characters are more expressive about their darker feelings. I think this lends more realism to the characters and their predicaments than Heldt's previous books. It feels less like a pleasant escape from reality and more like an accurate re-telling of a time and the people who lived during that time.

Even though Heldt takes pride in the historical accuracy of his novels, don't expect a dry read. The characters are lively, witting, and completely engaging; the setting is detailed, bustling with life, and totally absorbing. The mishap with one of the brothers who is trying to catch up to their parents in Arizona had an ending that was unpredictable when compared to Heldt's earlier works, and I think it adds to the suspense of the cliffhanger at the end of the book.

If you enjoyed Heldt's previous books, I think you'll enjoy River Rising. I certainly did and I managed to read it one day! If you haven't read Heldt's previous books and you enjoy historical drama, I think you will also enjoy the realism and the compelling characters in this first installment of the "Carson Chronicles."

About John A. Heldt

John A. Heldt, author of River Rising and the Carson Chronicles. Image courtesy of Goodreads.
John A. Heldt, author. Image courtesy of Goodreads.
John A. Heldt is the author of the critically acclaimed Northwest Passage, American Journey, and Carson Chronicles series. The former reference librarian and award-winning sportswriter has loved getting subjects and verbs to agree since writing book reports on baseball heroes in grade school. A graduate of the University of Oregon and the University of Iowa, Heldt is an avid fisherman, sports fan, home brewer, and reader of thrillers and historical fiction. When not sending contemporary characters to the not-so-distant past, he weighs in on literature and life at

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Front cover images from the "Carson Chronicles" by John A. Heldt

RIVER RISING, a historical fiction by John A. Heldt. Book review by Charity Rowell at On My Kindle Book Reviews