C. Robert Cargill Dreams and Shadows – Review

Dreams and Shadows

Dreams and Shadows tells the story of unconditional friendship and love. It’s not soppy but it will shatter your heart.

There are three boys in Austin, Texas.

Ewan, a boy who was too young to know what really happened to him. Knocks, a boy who wanted more than his life prepared for him. And Colby, a boy who only knew how to take care of himself. They didn’t know about the existence of one another, yet one day they meet in unusual circumstances which have an illimitable effect on them.

As his life is filled only with lonely games in the woods, Colby jumps at the opportunity of taking full control of his life when he meets an eccentric stranger Yashar. Meanwhile, in another part of Austin, fairies inhabiting the Limestone Kingdom need to make a sacrifice to the Devil himself every seven years. To protect their own kind, they steal children and leave changelings behind. Ewan and Knocks are very different but somewhat almost alike. They do not fully understand what is expected of them and, like children, get completely lost in their dreams and aspirations. A mixture of young ignorance and innocence can complicate the lives of two young boys. One of them is a human about to become a fairy and the other is an unfortunate changeling. The Tithe Child is oblivious to his destiny and doesn’t realise how little time he has left and why. The other one drives people to insanity and death. Not realising it’s his destiny to replace someone else, struggles to find a place he can belong to – conflicting emotions blind him and lead him to self-destruction.

When Colby barges through ‘the veil’ between ordinary and supernatural, the story suddenly turns upside-down and nothing from then on is as it was supposed to be. How can two boys from different worlds become friends and what does that friendship mean to them? Can their friendship endure the consequences of their actions they hardly understood at the time? There’s also love that complicates matters even further, but can bring up most beautiful out of most ordinary things. Dreams and Shadows is full of supernatural beings – both good and evil. C. Robert Cargill managed to write a truly imaginative world. His characters are very expressive – as if all those supernatural creatures shared our world with us in most natural way.

The book is written in two parts – a story of adolescent friendship and adult life. The chapters intertwine with extracts from essays on supernatural folklore. This allowed the author to explain certain aspects of the plot and characters in a very coherent and interesting way.

What I really love about Dreams and Shadows is that it’s not an ordinary urban fantasy book. It’s very dark, full of raw emotions of two opposing poles and heart wrenching. It broke my heart before I managed to get to chapter two. At that point I knew I would not be able to put it down – it completely enthralled me. The sheer human emotions described in the book are handled with utter honesty and effortlessly presented by all the characters – even the ones who played a tiny role in the whole story. Descriptions of places are also very vivid and haunting. The language is urgent and captivating. I couldn’t sleep for hours after I finished reading it. Not because of its dark sides but because I didn’t want it to end. I wanted more. I wasn’t ready for it to finish like that.

Dreams and Shadows is truly superb. I would recommend it to anyone who loves fantasy and to those who don’t. It’s one of those books you will want to keep.

Author: C. Robert Cargill

Title: Dreams and Shadows

Publisher: Gollancz

Format: Hardback, 416 pages

Published: 28/02/2013

ISBN: 9780575130098

There’s a painting in Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow titled The Fairy Raid: Carrying off a changeling – Midsummer Eve, 1867, Joseph Noel Paton – it’s always been one of my favourites and I’ve been fascinated by its story but after reading Dreams and Shadows I cannot help but see it as much darker and more intriguing.

Copyright Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow

Copyright Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow

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