by C. Robert Cargyll

4 stars

A modern day fairytale come urban fantasy set in both the solid, everyday world, and an un-seen, parallel place of supernatural creatures from a broad mix of folklores, who live, half-hidden, alongside the humans. It gets off to an explosive start, the opening is stark and tragic – though I found the childhood chapters less interesting than what followed. The childhood-in-fairyland story is fine in its way, but more conventional, less original, less intriguing than the unique vision of the second half. Everything warms up, gathers speed and takes on a whole new tone – much darker, more sinister, more thoroughly Gothic – when Ewan and Colby grow into teenagers, living divergent lives in the same town.

Gothic is the word that keeps coming back to me as I try to describe this tale; a dark and bloody streak of it runs through the narrative – it’s not something I generally associate with a story set in Texas. The location, in Austin’s seediest bars and a mystic bookshop, certainly adds a dash of spice to this modern day tale of angels and demons that has more to do with the Brothers Grimm than anything by Disney. From start to finish, Dreams and Shadows is pretty raw and thoroughly gory – not one for the kiddies, for sure. The end appeared to be setting the scene for a new story. If this is the first in a series, I’m deeply sorry that the – for me – best character, doesn’t make it to the end.

In short, this a great book by a creative author I’ll be watching for sure. And – having felt so many parallels between this book and my own, I can’t resist a plug. If you enjoyed Dreams and Shadows, might I recommend Entanglement? I think you’ll enjoy it.