It's Book Review Wednesday! Today, I'm reviewing a fantasy novel that feels pretty much like your classic portal fantasy…
Dreams and Shadows
What do you do when you are suddenly transported from twenty-first century England into a world of strange magic where everyone seems to be trying to kill you? That’s the question that faces Michael – an orphan who had been abandoned with a young couple while a baby, and largely ignored after his “adoptive mother” died.
When a powerful dream sets off a series of events that inexplicably draws him into the land of Aylosia, Michael finally believes he is arriving in a place where he will feel his mother’s love, but magical and political forces quickly seek his destruction. Caught between truth and lie, Michael now faces a fight for survival in a beautiful land; and must struggle to learn of his own powers and destiny if he is to save those he has grown to love.
Dreams and Shadows is a story of magical powers and strange creatures; of love, betrayal, despair, and ultimately hope.
My Review: 3.5 Stars
I love a good portal fantasy as much as the next guy, but this one had a few things that made it less than great.
Let's start off with the first bit: the real world setting. Michael is like any other guy his age, but the first few chapters are as bland and boring as I've ever read. There was very little to make me want to keep reading until he made it into the world of Aylosia. Also, it's not explained AT ALL how he gets to the other world. (Or, if it was, I missed it).
When he reaches Aylosia, he transitions to the new way of life and new world a bit too easily. I'd expect a bit more culture shock, all things considered.
The bones of the story were excellent. The world in which they live is intriguing, the magic system is interesting, and the main characters (Michael and Aneh) were fairly well-developed. However, it's a classic "villain for villainy's sake", and the other characters were a bit two-dimensional.
There were A LOT of unnecessary scenes in the book, with a whole side story arc that seemed less important the more I read. There were no highs or lows, and the one HUGE emotional moment seemed a bit milquetoast. There was only one real surprise at the climax of the book, but overall, it was a pretty straightforward fantasy of "good vs evil".
The story may have been good, but the nitty gritty (grammar, structure, syntax, flow, pace, punctuation, etc.) was pretty flawed. The world-building is a bit annoying, with large chunks of information on landmarks and landscapes. Overall, the story could have been trimmed by 25% of sheer word count without losing anything.
That being said, it's a decent story. If you can look past the things mentioned above, it was an enjoyable read and could be the beginning of a great new series.
About the Author:
Jeffrey Collyer was born in Perth, Australia. Following stints living in the US and Chile, he finally settled in England, where he now lives with his wife, four children, and two cats that constantly try to trip him down the stairs. Although his reading (and writing) tastes are somewhat eclectic, his first love is Fantasy, as it enables all sorts of subject matter to be explored in subtle ways.
Find the book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Dreams-Shadows-Aylosian-Chronicles-Volume/dp/1512050113
Read his thoughts on his website: http://www.jeffreycollyer.com
Connect with him via Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aylosia