Dreams and Shadows
By C. Robert Cargill
ISBN# 9780062190420

Brought to you by OBS reviewer Heidi

*Beware of Spoilers*

This book was such an interesting mix of things, I’m not even sure how to explain, but I will definitely give it my best attempt, which I hope will make sense.

This tale starts out with a wonderful little love story as we are ran through a little montage of how young Jared and Tiffany met, fell in love, got married, and went on to have a beautiful little boy that they named Ewan.  But their lives are shattered when a fairy kidnaps their precious little boy and leaves a doppelganger changeling in his place.  At first look, you would think it was Ewan, but his mother knew differently.  But nobody believed her and just though she was losing it, which leads to her eventual suicide.  Her husband then knew what the changeling was, but trying to get rid of it resulted in his own early demise.

This is a story about how the little events that happen can change the world forever; irrevocably.

Young Colby Stevens was playing alone one day when a djin shows up offering to grant him a wish.  The wish of a young impressionable eight year old will end up changing the course of lives forever, even his own.  He wishes to be able to see all the things that no mortal human can and for his djin to show him everything.

This wish leads them to the Limestone Kingdom, where the young Ewan has lived believing that he was going to become a fairy like the others around him.  This is also where the changeling that replaced Ewan on that dreadful night lives after being abandoned countless times.  Knocks has such a jealous hatred for Ewan that he vows to kill him one day.  But when the day comes for Ewan to finally get his wish and join the ranks of the fairies, the ugly truth of why the fairies took him in the first place is revealed.  And, young Colby will stop at nothing to save his new friend, unaware and uncaring of the consequences.

I absolutely LOVED the first chapter of this book.  The young love of Tiffany and Jared Thatcher was sweet and innocent only to be ruined by the evil that we’ve all heard and read about.  The legends of the fae stealing human babies and replacing them with an atrocity of their own.  I found this part of the chapter to be powerful and all-consuming and making me want to read more.  It showed that the author, C. Robert Cargill, really knows how to weave a captivating story and truly shows us why he’s had such a successful writing career, including movie screen writing, film critiques and a powerful web presence.  But unfortunately for me, this book did not maintain this pace and didn’t live up to the expectations the awesome start of the story promised.

There are several informative chapters between the storytelling chapters that left me with mixed feelings.  I enjoyed getting the extra back-story on the different creatures, but I found these chapters coming so frequently in the beginning, and being written in an academic textbook style, really hindered my ability to get absorbed in the story and making it a bit choppy overall, they were like a bucket of cold water waking you up from the fantasy you were immersed in.  I was overjoyed when they started tapering off and I could really start understanding what was going on with the different characters.

And boy where there a lot of characters in this tale!  I found so many secondary characters being introduced at the same time to be a bit confusing and I struggled to keep them all straight, especially the different caste of fairies and those with similar names such as Ruadhri and Rhiamon.  It was a bit of a character overload.

But lets delve a little bit more into the main characters, shall we?

I think one of my favorites was actually, Colby’s djin, Yashar.  He had a sordid past that left him with a curse on all wishes that he casts, dooming them all to terrible results.  But if he quit granting them, he would die.  I really enjoyed how he took young Colby under his wing and really became quite the father figure for him, one that stayed with him throughout his adulthood as well.

“You see, there was this man, and he was a good man; he worked hard and did everything to the best of his ability. All he desired was for the most beautiful woman in the kingdom to be his wife. Now this wasn’t all bad because she actually loved him too–very much so–but this vizier, he wanted her as well and not for so noble a cause as love.”

“What did he want her for?”

Yashar paused for a moment. “So that people could look at him and say, ‘He must be a great man to have such a beautiful wife.'”

“Oh. I thought he wanted her for sex,” said Colby, disappointed.”

Colby was a strong character in his own right.  He had strong beliefs and a hero complex off his own, always trying to save Ewan from certain death.  But his wish to see it all warped him in a way that he never expected, making him a bit cynical and keeping him from ever achieving true happiness.

Ewan was the naive and trusting friend in this story, never completely understanding  the horrible fate that was dealt to him, and not even remembering the day his world collapsed, until he was older and the memories started resurfacing, due in part to Mallaidh coming back into his life.  I never could decide if I liked this couple, always thinking how she’s going to hurt him in the end.

This book was divided into two parts.  The first was about the characters, Colby, Ewan, and Knocks as children.  The second part about them as young adults.  I struggled a lot with the first part of the book, which also was broken up a lot more with the excerpt chapters from Dr. Thaddeus Ray’s books.  But I didn’t find myself really getting into the story until the characters had grown up and matured a little.  I did find myself enjoying the book at this point, but I just never could fall in love with the tale.

I think the author does have a gift with weaving stories and I look forward to seeing what else he can offer us in the future!