Something is missing from Ewan and Colby’s lives. Residing in the corners of their memories is their time in Limestone Kingdom, a realm filled with magic and mystery, a world where only some may travel amongst the menagerie of mystical souls and sinister demons.
Cargill offers well-crafted characters and an absorbing, intricate plot that will appeal to fans of Neil Gaiman and Lev Grossman. Dreams and Shadows pulls you into an extraordinary universe of darkness that exposes the magic and monsters in our world, and in ourselves.
Okay, I know, I know, I’m supposed to be reviewing ARCS, but I got through The Falconer rather quickly and I happened to pick up the ARC this book’s sequel, Queen of the Dark Things a few days ago so I decide to skip ahead and give this one a look. And the result?
I think if there is one thing I can safely say, is that this book will not be for everybody. And when I mean that, I mean more so than normal. The author made a key stylistic choice here that hinders the enjoyment of the first half of the book. While the second half makes good strides to correct it, for many it may already be too late.
The problem is this:
The first half of the book, we have a narrative that alternates between the story of one character/set of characters and a bit of folk-lore that is relevant to the plot at hand. On the one hand, such a device makes sure we know all that we need to about the various kind of fae and their court, and the Djinn and so on. On the other hand, it absolutely prevents any kind of narrative flow from developing, no mater how hard the story tries. It is never not jarring, especially since most of the lore is told via pages of a pseudo-non-fiction text. The lore may be accurate, but it feels dry. And while the information does help, it’s hard to shake that some of it does feel like an information dump, and I’m not entirely convinced it was all entirely accurate. The best example of this would be the story of Yashir, the Djinn. Early on we the fable surrounding his past. And yet, at various points in the narrative, Yashir tells his own story to Colby. I don’t think the book would have lost anything had the fable not been there, and more importantly I think the rest of the lore might have been better served being woven into the text itself for a second reason:
This narrative device makes the first half of the book feel like a series of vignettes. We go to one place and things happen. We go to a second place and things happen. We go back to the first place a few years later and so on. It just adds to that disjointed feeling that I think ultimately harms the novel.
I haven’t mentioned the second half of the book yet, simply because it does actually become a more traditional narrative and it works better. This is a novel where no one is truly good and I like that. It’s just a matter of, by the time it gets good, will it be too late for the average reader?
You’ll have to see for yourself, but I strongly recommend the library or picking an e-book sample of this first because for many, I believe it will.
Verdict: Borrow it