May 2nd, 2013
The Short Take:
This fantasy on steroids includes a variety of fairy folk along with fallen angels, a genie, and other assorted supernatural types. However, it also offers a fresh approach to this subject matter. It’s alternately gritty, contemplative, and surprising. I liked it.
It took a while to get into this book. The first few chapters hop from one scenario to another and it takes a number of pages before those plots interweave. However, when they do, things really take off.
There’s quite a bit of action for this genre, some of it on the violent side. In fact, I would even say that Dreams and Shadows has bent and even broken some of the accepted rules for this type of book. For example, how often do you find a scientific conundrum used to explain all things magical?
It’s angles like these that keep this novel fresh and entertaining. Where else would you encounter characters like a hard-drinking, mournful genie? Beyond the plot, the book featured thoughtful discussions between characters about the different types of goodness and evil. In most cases, these would have one scanning ahead, however these discussions were so thought provoking, they were my favorite parts of the book.
It was also nice that Cargill’s fairy land is unusually diverse. He drew from Native American, Middle Eastern, and European sources. Whenever I googled one of his fairy names, they were genuine.
All in all, it was a very enjoyable and interesting read. Plus, it made me want to dust off my old fairy tale collection and dive back in again; and, that’s a good thing.
A Little Plot:
It’s complicated. One night Ewan, the perfect baby of perfect parents, is replaced by a changeling with catastrophic results. Elsewhere, a lonely Colby is offered wishes by a genie. He opts to see all the magical beings in the world, despite the genie warning him against this choice. Eventually Ewan, Colby and the changeling, now known as Knock, come together in the Limestone Kingdom — a magical world outside Austin, Texas.
It is here that Colby learns about Ewan’s fate and resolves to change it. This turns out to be something of a life-long process that sets them both apart from others.
If you care to know more about Cargill (who is also a screenwriter and film critic), click here.