Thursday, February 27, 2014

Dreams and Shadows: A Novel

Mulluane | Thursday, February 27, 2014 | 6 Comments so far

by C. Robert Cargill

There is another world than our own—one no closer than a kiss and one no further than our nightmares—where all the stuff of which dreams are made is real and magic is just a step away. But once you see that world, you will never be the same.

Dreams and Shadows takes us beyond this veil. Once bold explorers and youthful denizens of this magical realm, Ewan is now an Austin musician who just met his dream girl, and Colby, meanwhile, cannot escape the consequences of an innocent wish. But while Ewan and Colby left the Limestone Kingdom as children, it has never forgotten them. And in a world where angels relax on rooftops, whiskey-swilling genies argue metaphysics with foul-mouthed wizards, and monsters in the shadows feed on fear, you can never outrun your fate.

*Blurb source*Harper Voyager
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Book Cover of Dreams and Shadows: A Novel by C. Robert Cargill

| 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
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♥ Mini Review ♥
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.

Ratings, Reviews, Similar Reads, Buy Books, Affiliate Links

Librarything 3.75/5

Amazon: 3.7/5
(125 customer Reviews)

What Should I Read Next?
Kindle: Dreams and Shadows: A Novel

Audible: Yes

Buy Book: BAM! ~ AbeBooks

Book Depository

Amazon: US ~ Canada ~ UK

♦ About The Author ♦

C. Robert Cargill wrote for Ain't It Cool News for nearly a decade as "Massawyrm," served as a staff writer for and, and appeared as the animated character Carlyle on He is the screenwriter of the film Sinister and the upcoming Deus Ex movie. He lives and works in Austin, Texas.

Already read the book? Please add your own rating!

Contemporary Fantasy Book Review of Dreams and Shadows: A Novel by C. Robert Cargill - Reviewed by Mulluane - on February 27, 2014 - Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Mulluane is a 55-year-old proud grandmother of 4, who is passionate about her pets, blogging, traditional fantasy, and tinkering with webdesign. She is obssesively photo shy but she uses an avatar that accurately represents her dreams. ♥ You can also find her on:

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Dragons, Heroes and Wizards


  1. I'm trying to decide if I'd like it. Like you, I have a terrible failure rate with contemporary fantasy, unless it's "for children. I don't think this is? {curious smile}

    Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

    1. After I wrote this I went and looked at the Goodreads reviews. They were all over the place. Some loved it. Alot were disappointed because it was over-hyped. A few had the same character disconnect I did. Some even liked the "modern portion" but not the parallel world. (I was the reverse).

      And no, it is definitely not YA.

      I don't know Anne. I was fascinated by those in between chapters with all the detailed lore. If it hadn't been for them I doubt I would have enjoyed it as much. Well that and the genie. I enjoyed his rather tragic story.

      If I could I'd give it a 3.5 (slightly better than average) but I didn't want to round down so I rounded up :>)

  2. Thanks, Mulluane. I'll try to keep that in mind with this book. {Smile}

    The contemporary fantasy I mostly enjoy is juvenile/middle grade. So if this is too adult for YA, I do need to remember that. {Smile}

    Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

  3. Interesting. And intriguing as well!
    From your description it sounds like a new approach to the fae trope, and it might be different enough to be worth a try. The "fae lore" at the beginning of chapters, introduced as an excerpt from text rather than given to the reader as info-dump, seems to be a nice feature too.
    I'll keep an eye out for it. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Not every chapter mind you but before (or sometimes just after) some new type of fae, ritual or lore, is introduced.

      For example, chapter 2 starts out with:

      (quote) "An excerpt by Dr. Thaddeus Ray, Ph.D., from his book, A Chronicle of the Dreamfolk" (/quote)

      and then 4 pages on the changelings. Who they are, what their parents are, how they are created, why they are left in place of human babies.

      To me, those asides were absolutely priceless!

    2. That does sound like a different approach to making sure the reader understands the critters in the story. {Smile}

      Anne Elizabeth Baldwin


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