The first book our book club is tackling this year is Lord of Dreams by C.J. Brightley. The theme for this month was fairies, so we got this … strange … book. Here’s the summary:
When a fairy king grants a human wish, there’s more at stake than dreams.
Claire Delaney has a good life, despite her adolescent angst. But she wants more. In a moment of frustration, she wishes to be “the hero.”
What she actually wants is to be the center of attention, but what she gets is a terrifying Fae king demanding that she rescue an imprisoned fairy, facing fantastical dangers and hardships she could not have imagined.
Yet the dreams–and the rescue–are only the beginning of her journey. She is at the center of the king’s audacious gamble to end the war that has raged in Faerie for half a century.
It’s not a bad premise, and when I started reading, I rejoiced at how well-written the book was. But then things got … strange. Here’s my review:
What a very strange book.
The first few chapters were very hard to read because of the whiplash of switching between the real world and the fairy world. And then we leap forward years in time, going from child Claire to Teen Claire to Adult Claire, with important but disconnected incidents happening at each point.
Once Adult Claire gets to the fairy world and starts trying to rescue the fairy king, things get slightly more coherent. She’s still ducking in and out of the dream world, but it’s always the same dream world, and that helps it not be so bonkers. The book uses that extreme, literal logic that I got used to with Diana Wynne Jones. Each word the king says means literally what it says. And every word that Claire says means literally what it says. Read carefully.
The story is emotionally satisfying, and Claire does, indeed, become the hero she wanted to be. Although maybe not quite in the way she expected.
If you’re a fan of the dreamlike, non-sequitur way that Alice in Wonderland reads, you’ll enjoy this book. Four stars.
For what it is, this was a good book. It portrayed the fairy world as suitably weird, which I don’t find in a lot of books. (Often times, the fairyworld is just a place where people with wings hang out with talking animals. I’m looking at you, Lego.)
But this kind of book drives me nuts. My brain is too logical. For instance, fairy blood is blue because it has no hemoglobin (no iron, ha ha). But that means … it can’t carry oxygen! Does that mean that they don’t breathe oxygen in the fairyworld? WHAT IS THIS I DON’T EVEN.
That kind of thing frustrates me, and I don’t care much for Alice in Wonderland, either. So I think it’s mostly just my problem. Lots of people love that dreamscape kind of world. And the book does it very well. It just wasn’t a good fit for me.