Dreams are not all in your head, at least not in the worlds of Wayne Thomas Batson's Dreamtreaders. Batson's novel posits that like the temporal world—our wakeful reality shared with everyone else—dreams are also a shared reality. When you dream, you enter the fantastic realms of the dream world, populated with all the beings everyone's imaginations have conjured. Like the temporal world, there is good and evil in the dream world.
For most of us, dreaming is a rather passive affair. Dreams can feel real and the events excite our emotions. Sometimes we even know we're dreaming, kind of like watching a very riveting movie or horror flick in the case of nightmares. For dreamtreaders like fourteen-year-old Archer Keaton, dreams take on a whole new sense of reality. He is able to enter the dream world and act within it as if he is in the temporal world. Not only is he fully lucid, he can conjure up items and superhuman skills from his imagination. But, he is limited to twelve hours in the dream world and all that imagining can be mentally exhausting. Falling asleep in the dream or staying past the twelve-hour mark has dire consequences for one's life in the temporal world.
As I mentioned earlier, there is evil in the dream world. The center of that evil is the Nightmare Lord, a servant of Satan the text implies. The Nightmare Lord hopes to create breaches in the fabric separating the dream world from the temporal and eventually create a rift allowing the two worlds to mix. The idea is that if the worlds mix, no one will be able to tell dream from reality and the world as we know it will come to an end. Dreamtreaders are tasked with sewing up the breaches and fighting the Nightmare Lord and his minions. Archer is one of only three dreamtreaders who are led by an angel, Master Gabriel. There are also Lucid Walkers in the dream world. These are people from the temporal world who have also discovered how to have lucid dreams like the dreamtreaders.
As the story begins, Archer's world is in turmoil. He wants to take the fight to the Nightmare Lord, but Gabriel preaches caution, arguing that Archer is not ready, not experienced or strong enough. Archer's school life is also upset when a Rigby, a new boy, arrives at his school and attracts the attention of Archer's longtime friend Kara. Kara alone among Archer's friends knows of his dreamtreading. Rigby knows something about dreams as well. His uncle was a famous dream researcher. Archer and Rigby are on a bumpy collision course with dizzying changes in loyalties.
Batson does well making the dream world come alive. His depiction of life at school and at home for Archer are also convincing. Archer is an underdog at school though a hero in the dream world so it's easy to feel sympathy for him and root for him. We feel his pain as jealousy and betrayal are central themes in the novel. Rigby and Kara are also suitably realized. This is the first in a trilogy and the ending leaves no doubt we will have not seen the last of Rigby and Kara. My only complaint is with the final chapters. The ending comes quickly with loyalties switching back and forth in a dizzying fashion. I'm looking forward to the next installment of Archer's journey and wondering if forgiveness and reconcilliation will be major themes in the next volume.
In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of Dreamtreaders from the publisher.
To read more about Wayne Thomas Batson and his work, check out his blog at http://enterthedoorwithin.blogspot.com/.
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