This book is weird…not that that’s a bad thing…
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.
One thing I will say, and I’ve mentioned it before in my review of The Dark Beloved, is that this book is super well researched. Cargill clearly read many a large book on Irish folklore before sitting in front of his keyboard. That definitely comes through, particularly in those bits which are written to be excerpts from such books (albeit more fantastical ones). My main criticism, however, is also based around this fact. I felt a bit like Cargill was constantly shouting ‘LOOK HOW MUCH RESEARCH I DID’ in his text. I think the sign of an excellent and well-researched novel is when it makes you learn, without knowing you are learning. This was more ‘you’ll learn and you’ll like it, or else!’
The characters of Colby and Ewan were…ok? I just felt like you didn’t really get to know them at all, there was no reason I should care for their plight beyond the fact that the author told me to. If you’re going to have main characters that are children then I feel they ought to behave as such or behave completely opposite (also the reason I didn’t really get on with Boy in the Striped Pyjamas).
But I shouldn’t be all doom and gloom. I do think this is an interesting take on the normal ‘changeling’ plot which can get to feel a little overdone. It was incredibly gruesome at times, and I definitely wouldn’t recommend it if you don’t have a fairly strong stomach. I also wouldn’t recommend it if you like happy books, this book, quite deliberately, lulls you into a false sense of security and then rips all joy from you.
It’s… an interesting book to say the least. I think it was worth reading just for the knowledge I gained. But if you’re not looking for a lesson in Irish fair folk loosly wrapped in a fantasy novel then you might find this book a bit much.
My rating: 3/5 stars