Fantasy, Fantasy (Teen)

Dreams and Shadows by Jeffrey Collyer

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Most of the fantasy novels I read have a female protagonist. It seems to be a common trend these days. Even when I write fantasy pieces, the main character I use is always female. That’s why I’m always interested in reading fantasy novels with a male protagonist. It’s a unique experience for me, and if it is well done, it can be truly enjoyable. That was one of the things that drew me to this novel. So let me just go ahead with my review:

Michael has never felt like he belonged. An orphan who had been abandoned with a young couple as a baby, he has lived his life ignored, especially after the death of his “adoptive mother”. Michael works in a library and is just getting through life when a powerful dream sets off a series of events that take him to the land of Aylosia. Here, the world is different, and Michael finally thinks he may have a chance to find a true home. However, it soon becomes clear that there are some who would much rather see him gone. Caught in this new life, Michael must now fight to survive in Aylosia and learn of his destiny.

This novel was extremely hard to get through. It began very slowly, and in an awkward fashion. What does that mean? Well, the language use was not the best. The style would begin formally; everyone would be talking formally, and Michael’s inner thoughts were formal, as well. However, every time he spoke, it would suddenly shift to an informal tone. This made it very awkward in terms of flow; I would find myself reading this novel as if it was meant for a more mature audience and then suddenly, I would be reverted to something more akin to a teen novel. This made it very hard to stay focused on the story.

Another aspect that I found quite … weird…. is the obsession Michael has with his mother. To say he has mommy issues would be an UNDERSTATEMENT. Every scene or chapter seemed to have some reference to his mother. For someone who was abandoned as a baby and has no recollection of his biological parents, he certainly feels a lot about his mother! And there is only a sentence or two that talks about his “adoptive” mother, as if she is not important at all. Wouldn’t her loss have also hit him hard, considering how badly he wants to feel a mother’s love? Emotionally, Michael seems to be stuck at the age of 5-10, but physically he is much older. It really didn’t work in his favor.

The world-building itself was interesting, but there tended to be a LOT of detail that perhaps wasn’t that necessary. It just served to make it even more of a drag to get through the story.

Overall, I can see the potential in this novel, but it needs a great deal more editing to make it work. For now, I’m going to have to give it a 2/5 stars, and pass on it.

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