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| Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
| Content: Fae, Parallel World, Adventure
| ISBN-10: 0062190431
| ISBN-13: 9780062190437
| Publisher: Harper Voyager (October 29, 2013)
| Paperback: 464 pages
| Cover Artist: Paula Russell Szafranski
| Source: Publisher in exchange for honest review.
| Rating: 4/5 Stars
Ever so often I like to step out of my comfort zone and test the waters so to speak. Usually what I discover is validation for my reading preferences. I'm generally much happier reading High Fantasy and similar genres. But... Sometimes I discover a book which grabs me despite its modern setting. This ended up being one of those books.
Contemporary Fantasy Review by Mulluane
♦ The Story. The story starts off with a familiar fairytale type romance. Boy meets girl, sparks fly, boy marries girl and they settle into wedded bliss. That is until their baby is stolen and replaced by an evil changeling. At this point the story turns very dark and very tragic.
♦ What I Liked. Normally I don't like crossover Fantasy. I much prefer secondary worlds that do not touch our own. This book however contained several elements that appealed to me so strongly I was able to enjoy even the crossover bits.
First real hook for me was how quickly the story switched over to the fae world. Had it lingered in ours, the book would have lost me right off. Granted it switches back to modern later in the tale but by then I was well and truly invested in the story.
The second hook, and my favorite, were the educational chapters. These were asides based on book entries, apparently made by scholars, describing the various fae, their world, their characteristics, their powers and how dangerous (or not) they were. This was not only fascinating in and of itself, it insured that I wouldn't get confused by all the different types of fae. Even better, these snippets of lore kept my interest operating at full capacity. Each of these little gems of info occurred just before the chapter which introduced the fae, lore or situation described. By the time I finished reading the intro chapter, I couldn't wait to find out how the new info fit into the ongoing events.
The third hook was the genie. I love genies but rarely see any in the books I read. This genie had his own fascinating part in the story along with an excellent backstory. Once he paired up with the second young boy featured in this tale, I knew I was not going to be able to put the book down until it was done.
♦ What I didn't like. I'm guessing roughly the first half of the book revolved around events within the Fae world but eventually things get fairly tied up there and the focus returns to the modern world. With this change came this huge lapse in time and suddenly I was reading about two men in their (I'm guessing) 20s as opposed to the young boys I knew before. The double shift in focus was disconcerting because I had to wrap my mind around not only the change of venue but the sudden change in age.
It knocked me off stride and I would have liked a more gradual transition. Evidently alot happened in those intervening years and you do learn about it in bits and pieces of backstory. The problem is that the sudden jump led to a disconnect from the characters. At that point the story became plot driven instead of character driven. For the life of me I just couldn't find the empathic connections I had prior to the switch.
♦ My Thoughts. Even though I eventually lost my connections to the main characters, I was still fascinated by the story itself. It was dark, scary, tragic, complicated, intense and very deep. There is so much going on here, both at the forefront and in the background, that you really have to pay close attention. All of this contributed to making this a very fast read.
This is also one of those stories where nearly everybody has their own agenda and most of the time you have no idea what that agenda is. Better yet, if and when you do find out, it is sure to surprise you and usually not in a good way.
♦ Conclusion. This foray into uncharted waters revealed a true pearl of a story. I am still not sure how enamored I would have been if it wasn't for all that lovely reference material but they set the hook and reeled me in. It also had all of the fantasy fae I could have possibly wished for plus a dark, often violent, occasionally tragic, and always interesting roller coaster ride of a story. It didn't quite sell me on Contemporary Fantasy but it showed me that there are always exceptions to every rule.
(125 customer Reviews)
What Should I Read Next?
|Kindle: Dreams and Shadows: A Novel|
Buy Book: BAM! ~ AbeBooks
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C. Robert Cargill wrote for Ain't It Cool News for nearly a decade as "Massawyrm," served as a staff writer for Film.com and Hollywood.com, and appeared as the animated character Carlyle on spill.com. He is the screenwriter of the film Sinister and the upcoming Deus Ex movie. He lives and works in Austin, Texas.
Contemporary Fantasy Book Review of Dreams and Shadows: A Novel by C. Robert Cargill - Reviewed by Mulluane - on February 27, 2014 - Rating: of 5 Stars