Cade and Tasha have endured tragedy and loss. Their daily lives are dismal, without an end in sight. But at night the siblings can meet in Dream. It's not only a state of mind, it's a magical, enchanting, physical place. There, they can forget their wretched pasts and bleak futures and focus on the peace and rapture to be found in Dream. This joy is short-lived, however, as the creatures of Nightmare start to invade Dream and threaten not only Dream, but Earth itself. Cade is chosen to save Dream, but can he do it?
Written by Daniel Arenson, "The Gods of Dream" is an epic fantasy with an exquisite and surreal feel. The author has a talent for description, and it's easy to picture the worlds of Dream and Nightmare. They're everything you thought they may be, and maybe even more. The storyline has a bit of a Biblical feel, a feeling which is heightened as the two sides draw closer to the battle that will determine the future of both realms, as well as the future of all humans. Each realm has a variety of different regions, and those in Nightmare almost felt like Dante's circles of hell. Each of the areas in Nightmare presents a different type of horror to be experienced, just as each area in Dream provides a special type of pleasure. The author has crafted his characters nicely, and the gods of each realm are distinct and fascinating. The hierarchy of the gods in Dream mirrors those found in Nightmare. The relationship between the various gods is somewhat reminiscent of the relationship between the Devil and his minions, and God and his angels. While I loved those two worlds and the characterization of each world, I wanted to understand a bit more the relationship between these realms and Earth.
The story started out somewhat slow for me. It took me some time to really get a feel for what was going on and where we were going. As I read on, my interest grew and I became much more entranced by, and committed to, the story. Taking such ethereal creations as dreams and nightmares and transforming them into actual physical places to be experienced and explored puts a new and exciting spin on something we only experience while we sleep. Although the story did drag for me at times, as we battled with all the lesser gods of Nightmare and walked for days and weeks and months, it was worth the read. The story itself didn't totally "wow" me, but the creativity of concepts and the beautifully flowing writing left me thinking about the ideas long after I'd finished reading. I wasn't completely captivated by the plot, but I was entranced by the worlds the author created. The gorgeous cover of the book really captures the feel of the story. I suspect I'll be thinking about the imagery and concepts woven into this story long after I've forgotten about Cade and Tasha and the details of their quest.
4.5 /5 stars (I originally was thinking 4 stars, but I bumped it up a bit just for the incredible worlds of Dream and Nightmare)
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(Read my review of the "Flaming Dove" by Daniel Arenson here)