The River Bank Preorder

A sequel to Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows

In this delightful dive into the bygone world of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows staunch Mole, sociable Water Rat, severe Badger, and troublesome and ebullient Toad of Toad Hall are joined by a young mole lady, Beryl, and her dear friend, Rabbit. There are adventures, a double kidnapping, lost letters, a series of sensational novels, two (threatened) marriages, and family secrets.

The River Bank has chapter illustrations and more than 40 incidental illustrations by award-winning artist Kathleen Jennings.

Table of Contents

New Arrivals
Tea at Toad Hall
A Regrettable Consequence
The Dustley Turismo X
Water Lilies
A Den of Thieves
Mole and Beryl
Cribbed, Cabined, and Confined
Return to the River Bank
Author’s Note


“The familiar figures of Mole, Water Rat, Badger, Mouse, and of course Toad are here, but the story opens with two new figures, a young mole lady named Beryl and her companion the Rabbit, an impressionable young woman described by Mouse as ‘‘right flighty,’’ moving into Sunflower Cottage on the River Bank. Beryl is a successful ‘‘Authoress’’ of potboiling adventure novels, and while Johnson has a good time giving us hints of these novels and of Beryl’s own writing process, her real significance is that she is not only one of the first female characters to move into the village, but one of the first who actually has a clear occupation. Both she and Rabbit are welcomed by the locals, although Mole himself seems oddly reticent to have any dealings with her, for reasons that become clear much later. Most of these residents are familiar in their dispositions, although Toad may if anything be a bit darker and more reckless and impulsive than in Grahame. One of the more intriguing aspects of The Wind in the Willows, maybe especially for SF readers, was the satirical manner in which it introduced technology into the world of the animal fable, and Toad’s famous passion for motorcars is here supplanted by an equally voracious and hilarious lust for the new motorcycles, after he sees a messenger riding one. That, of course, leads to the series of disasters – and attempted interventions on the part of Toad’s friends – that make up Johnson’s fast-moving plot. . . . The delicate balance of challenging the assumptions of a beloved classic while retaining the oracular charm of that classic seems almost effortless in Johnson’s hands, but it’s more of an achievement than it might at first seem.”
— Gary K. Wolfe, Locus

“Anthropomorphized friends Mole, Water Rat, Badger, and the notorious Toad of Toad Hall are back in Johnson’s sequel to Kenneth Grahame’s 1908 children’s novel set in Edwardian England, The Wind in the Willows. When a young lady-mole named Beryl and her companion, Rabbit, move to the River Bank, they spark a series of comical misunderstandings and adventures. Johnson neatly captures the quaint whimsy of Grahame’s original book, complete with asides from the omniscient narrator (“The Mole took the kettle off and banked the fire—for he knew that one should never leave a fire unattended, and so ought you.”) She also does an excellent job of addressing issues of gender and class in Grahame’s original novel; Beryl, an “authoress” of successful murder mysteries, and her friend Rabbit, whose spirit of recklessness could put the Toad himself to shame, incite a flurry of anxieties. “I am sure they are very nice animals,” says the Mole, “but—females, you know. You know what they are like…. I don’t see why we need anyone else. We went along admirably enough without them.” The Mole may come to eat his words, and the adventures that expose the root of his assumptions are sparkling and witty without sacrificing narrative tension. This is a sequel that will hit the spot for Grahame fans, but isn’t afraid to build on his characters and fill in some gaps for a modern readership.”
Publishers Weekly

Praise for Kij Johnson’s writing:

“Johnson’s language is beautiful, her descriptions of setting visceral, and her characters compellingly drawn. These 18 tales, most collected from Johnson’s magazine publications, are sometimes off-putting, sometimes funny, and always thought provoking.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Ursula K. Le Guin comes immediately to mind when you turn the pages of Kij Johnson’s first book of short stories, her debut collection is that impressive. The title piece has that wonderful power we hope for in all fiction we read, the surprising imaginative leap that takes us to recognize the marvelous in the everyday.” —Alan Cheuse, NPR

“Kij Johnson has a singular vision and I’m going to be borrowing (stealing) from her.” —Sherman Alexie

The Fox Woman immediately sets the author in the front rank of today’s novelists.” —Lloyd Alexander

“When she’s at her best, the small emotional moments are as likely to linger in your memory as the fantastic imagery. Johnson would fit quite comfortably on a shelf with Karen Russell, Erin Morgenstern and others who hover in the simultaneous state of being both “literary” and “fantasy” writers.” —Shelf Awareness

About the Author

Kij Johnson has won the Sturgeon, World Fantasy, and Nebula awards for her stories which were collected in At the Mouth of the River of Bees. She is the author of three previous novels and has taught writing and has worked at Tor, Dark Horse, Microsoft, and Real Networks. She has run bookstores, worked as a radio announcer and engineer, edited cryptic crosswords, and waitressed in a strip bar.

About the Illustrator

Kathleen Jennings (@tanaudel) was raised on fairytales in western Queensland. She trained as a lawyer and filled the margins of her notes with pen and ink illustrations. She has been nominated for the World Fantasy award and has received several Ditmar Awards. She lives in Brisbane, Australia.

Leave a Reply

Comment moderation is in use.
Please feel free to use this form to contact us directly, and we'll reply by email. Thank you!

 | Subscribe to comments via RSS