Christal’s Review – 4 Skulls – A-
Dreams and Shadows was a surprisingly complex novel. What starts as a twisted fairytale becomes a story about one young man realizing his destiny and changing the fabric of the world. This is definitely adult fiction as it is filled with violence and death, but at its heart, it’s about growing up and how the fantasies we cling to break down as we experience the real world.
The story alternates between multiple viewpoints, most notably Colby, Ewan, and Knocks, but everything weaves together to form one surprising tale. Everything that happens drives the plot towards its eventual end, no matter how small the outcome seems. The narrative voice was quite lyrical and it is evident that C. Robert Cargill has a way with words. The prose flows like a babbling brook making you smile with its fairyland imagery and wince when you hit the small pebbles of reality. It was beautiful to read.
It is hard to talk much about the characters because I don’t want to give anything away; it is best to go into this novel completely unspoiled. The cast of characters is very large and each one is distinctive and has their own role to play. Colby begins as a young boy and ends up a very disenchanted young man. I absolutely loved him. I thought he was a wonderful character and I bought in to everything he had to do to survive, no matter if I necessarily agreed or not. I would love to read more about him, but the way this story ended felt right. We don’t need to know what he goes on to do; it was more important for us to see how he became who he is. Ewan was pretty much the pivot point of the story. I think things would have been very different if another child had been chosen in his place. His story was very tragic despite his good temperament and he just couldn’t seem to catch a break. I am glad that he at least had Colby as a friend and experienced love in the end. Knocks was a horrible, despicable character and even though sometimes I felt a little pity so him, it was soon dashed by one action or another.
Working more behind the scence, Yashar the djinn and Coyote the trickster fae were both powerful in their own way. Yashar and Colby complimented one another and I hope they find what they are seeking on their journeys. Coyote lived up to his name, his entire plan not being revealed until the final pages. The other supporting characters were all vibrant and wonderfully developed as well. They populated this literary landscape with mirth, sadness, hate, love, and everything in between.
Though this tale is very dark, violent, and heartbreaking it is also touching and emotional. Even through the sad times, I could not put this book down. Good, bad, right, wrong, everything becomes topsy-turvy in this book and you just have to hang on for the entire ride. I highly recommend this unique and creative novel, not only to readers of epic fantasy, but for anyone who wonders what other worlds might be hiding outside of our own.
Thank you to Edelweiss and Harper Voyager for providing an ARC copy of this book!
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