Thursday, December 19, 2013

Dreams and Shadows by C. Robert Cargill

Last fall I ventured out to see a new horror film on my own - not a rare occurrence for me. The film was Sinister and for the first time in a very long time I walked out of the theater feeling very unsettled. It's one of the reactions I hope to have to a good horror movie but often times realize is far beyond reach even when the movie in question might actually be a worthwhile watch.

We rewatched it for Halloween as part of my annual Halloween tradition, fudging a little because I try to find a movie I've never seen - but hubs had yet to see it so I made an exception :) I realized that co writer C. Robert Cargill sounded really familiar. When I couldn't place him I did a quick search and realized why: he had a book released this year, one that was getting quiet praise amongst some of the blogs and sites that I frequently peruse. My quick trip this past week proved to be the perfect opportunity to check it out (and it was fortunate I did as Cargill's dark fantasy kept me distracted during the mess of flight changes at the airport).

Colby and Ewan have led very different lives. Colby, a much ignored only child, spends his time playing in the local woods. It's up to him to entertain himself while his mother is otherwise occupied by drink or men. But Colby has his imagination and playing alone isn't a problem. When he meets Yashar everything changes. Yashar is a djinn and he offers Colby a wish that will allow him to see the world as he's never seen it before. 

Ewan was unfortunately snatched from his parents very shortly after being brought home. A replacement for a changeling, Ewan has been raised as part of the fairy world. His best friends are the seelie and unseelie who call Austin and the nearby area home. Colby and Ewan meet and become fast friends, but this friendship will affect their lives and alter the fairy world in ways no one predicted.

Dreams and Shadows is dark and surprisingly gruesome. (Thanks to Cargill I'll never think of David the Gnome in the same light again!) These fae are all pretty bad. Even the ones who are supposedly "good" fae are dangerous to humanity. Much of the lore is classic but there are some deviations (interesting ones at that) such as the above mentioned gnomes (red hats).

There are so many things to praise about this book but highest on my list is simply the fact that it's so wonderfully imaginative. And dark. I have to point that out because while this is fantasy, the detail at some points really does border on horror. In fact, I think it could safely be considered a horror/fantasy cross genre, not so bizarre amongst books and I think appealing to readers of both genres in general.

Cargill is garnering comparison to the likes of Neil Gaiman and I find it quite fitting. Gaiman via Texas maybe. I adored this book. It gave me chills and left me desperate for more in the same vein. It'll be a little bit of a wait, though, as the follow up, Queen of the Dark Things, is due out in hardcover next May.

Rating: 5/5

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