Review: Dreams and Shadows by C. Robert Cargill
Dreams and Shadows by C. Robert Cargill
Series: Dreams and Shadows #1
Published by Harper Voyager
Published on: February 26 2013
Genres: Urban Fantasy
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A brilliantly crafted modern tale from acclaimed film critic and screenwriter C. Robert Cargill—part Neil Gaiman, part Guillermo Del Toro, part William S. Burroughs—that charts the lives of two boys from their star-crossed childhood in the realm of magic and mystery to their anguished adulthoods
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.
Dreams and Shadows is a stunning and evocative debut about the magic and monsters in our world and in our self.
The first thing that the blurb for this book tells you is that Dreams and Shadows is written by an acclaimed film critic and screenwriter . . .
And you can tell.
Okay . . . But what does that mean?
Well, it means that the book is written like a TV series. Maybe even an entire season of a TV series, and b/c of that, I think I’ve figured out a quick way to test whether or not you’d like this book.
Did you like Lost? B/c Lost is:
1. Dark and twisty.
If you want to know what kind of person someone is, crash them onto an (seemingly) uninhabited island with limited resources, and sit back and watch their true natures emerge. Also—LOTS of death. Lots of violent death.
2. A TV series, and thus episodic.
If you’re like me, you watched season after season of Lost, never knowing what the bloody heck was going on. You kept getting insights into what made the individual characters tick, and the action was enough to keep you enthralled and coming back for more, BUT. You never knew. What the bloody heck. WAS GOING ON.
3. Full of “coincidence.”
Almost all of the passengers on Oceanic Flight 815 were strangers.
Except they weren’t.
As events unfolded, you learned how interconnected everyone and everything was, far beyond the realm of believable randomness. Something larger was at work, something or someone, behind the scenes, pulling strings, cutting threads . . . But who? And why?
So even if you haven’t watched Lost, based on those descriptions/explanations, you should be able to determine whether or not this book is for you.
B/c it is NOT for everyone.
While no one was marooned on a tropical island, the typical Fae temperament is eerily similar to the Id-like tendencies many of the characters on Lost succumbed to when removed from civilized society.
But they’re Fae. So they’re worse.
The Fae in this book are not the lovely and benevolent Fae that are so often depicted in modern books and movies. They aren’t even the cold and indifferent Elves from LOTR, or the mostly mischievous and meddlesome (<——accidental alliteration!) with the odd malevolent creature tossed in to keep things interesting Fae that are most commonly found in PNR and UF these days.
Nope, these are nasty, cruel, and calculating Fae. Self-serving Fae. Murderous b/c it’s FUN Fae.
There are also several striking similarities between Dreams and Shadows and Thomas Harris’s Hannibal Lector series.
Personal Anecdotal Story Alert: Red Dragon is single-handedly responsible for my refusal to ever watch scary movies again.
The same evening that I saw the movie, I woke up inexplicably in the middle of the night (and when I say, “inexplicably,” I mean, “b/c the movie was HELLISHLY creepy, and I wasn’t sleeping soundly anyway”), and in that mostly incoherent, but still managing to process some thought state, I registered that I couldn’t move my arm b/c it was asleep . . . But when I went to move it with my other arm, all I felt was cold, limp weight, so I FREAKED OUT, and tried to throw “it” across the room.
Tried to throw. My own arm. Across the room.
B/c it wasn’t my arm, you see. It was the arm of a dead person, and it was clearly in my bed b/c Red Dragon guy was downstairs, and would come upstairs at any moment to make me “become.” (And if you don’t know what “the becoming” is . . . trust me, you don’t want to.)
True story. *facepalms self*
So when Ewan refers to the ceremony that will transform him from Changeling to full-blown Fairy as his “becoming,” I nearly lost my mind.
Then a few chapters later when one of the most feared fairies is described as skinning her victims alive:
“Then she’ll drape your skin outside over a tree branch until it dries to leather and then she’ll wear it as a belt so she can keep you close to her forever!”
So . . . yeah. Creeptastic.
Add to that the fact that I have only a very vague idea (that is quite possibly dead wrong) about what the Big Picture is, and well, in addition to liking your UF creepy and horrific, you’d also need to be very, very patient to enjoy this book. And I did. This kind of book isn’t my favorite, but it was still enjoyable. But a lot of people aren’t okay with having HUH?! plastered across their face the entire time they’re reading a book. And some of the people that are (like me), stop being okay when lots of pertinent information isn’t revealed in that last 10-15%. Oh, the bare bones is revealed over the course of the book: Colby = good, Fae = bad, etc., but a clear course of action to accomplish an obvious objective? Not by a long shot.
And so, fair reader, I leave the decision in your hands. *cue ominous music* Choose wisely . . .