Friday, October 2, 2015

Me on Dreamstrider

Title: Dreamstrider
Author: Lindsay Smith
Release Date: October 6, 2015
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (Macmillan imprint)

Livia is a dreamstrider. She can inhabit a subject's body while they are sleeping and, for a short time, move around in their skin. She uses her talent to work as a spy for the Barstadt Empire. But her partner, Brandt, has lately become distant, and when Marez comes to join their team from a neighborhing kingdom, he offers Livia the option of a life she had never dared to imagine. Livia knows of no other dreamstriders who have survived the pull of Nightmare. So only she understands the stakes when a plot against the Empire emerges that threatens to consume both the dreaming world and the waking one with misery and rage.

Dreamstrider is mysterious and dangerous, wreathed in dreams and secrets. Something dark is brewing in Barstadt, in the dream world of Oneiros. Something long thought defeated is waking up.

Livia is cautious. Intelligent. Very uneasy. Because of a certain incident, because of mistakes and accidents, she's wary of her ability to help the Ministry ferret out secrets and trecherous plots against the empire. She's the only dreamstrider but she's cautious. She has no confidence. She's filled with doubts and fears, doubts of one day finally proving her worth, fears of loosing someone important to her. Without courage, she can't speak up and share what's weighing on her heart while her mind and her dreams are filled with dangerous shadows. She'll have to find some courage, though, if she wants to survive. If she wants to save those around her.

Dreams are so important in this world, almost like a religion of some sort. The Dreamer guides those of Barstadt through dreams, showing them what to do and what's to come. It's up to the people themselves to interpret those dreams, to see what's coming, to learn the correct lessons and follow the correct path. But the questions do arise. Is the Dreamer real? If so, why would the Dreamer allow so many doubts to fill Livia? Why do the Nightmare wastes plague her so? Do her own insecurities hold too much power over her?

This is an intriguing mystery/thriller with fantasy elements. There's so much focus on the task at hand: uncovering secrets and traitors, navigating treacherous lands, piecing together motives and plots. The slight romance takes a back seat to the action and intrigue. It's there, a piece of Livia's unspoken worries that control much of her waking, and sleeping, thoughts, but it's not as obvious. The language is a a bit different. I think that's the world itself, descriptive and magical, meanings hidden in words and dreams. It's a bit flowery. But what's most interesting is Livia herself. A girl plucked from the slums, from a life of fear and crime, is given a new chance when her gift is discovered. But she never thinks herself worthy. She's constantly at war with herself, trying to prove herself while being afraid she's not good enough. She keeps fighting back, which makes her a great heroine.  I liked it, I imagine fans of the author's previous books will enjoy this new standalone.

(I received an e-galley of this title to review from Macmillain through Raincoast Books.)

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