Dreamlander, by K.M. Weiland (PenForASword, 2012)
Dreams weren’t supposed to be able to kill you. But this one was sure trying its best. [Kindle location 91]
What if… when you fell asleep, your dreams were real in another world?
Chris is a Gifted, one of very few who can cross the boundary between our world and the other. Each Gifted is brought to the other world to help in time of need, although the nature of that help isn’t immediately apparent.
We first meet Chris in present-day Chicago, where he’s a journalist afraid of commitment, avoiding his down-and-out father and basically drifting through life. Lately he’s been having strange dreams, and when he falls asleep and catapults into the Kingdom of Lael, all he wants to do is go home and make the dreams stop.
Princess Allara Katadin of Lael is a Searcher. Her role is to locate a Gifted when he or she crosses over, and to help the Gifted acclimatize and fulfill his or her role as that becomes clear. She was a child when her first Gifted arrived, and that episode of her life was a failure. A second Gifted in the same Searcher’s lifetime is practically unheard-of, and it’s the last thing Allara wants.
Lael is a mediaeval-type kingdom, with horses and swords. They do have guns, powered by hydraulics, and cable-cars which connect distant towns. They’re also under threat from a neighbouring country and from a dissenting faction within their own.
The world has different plant and animal life than Earth, including two other bipedal species and a guardian-angel type of being called the Garowai, a wise, mythic-looking creature who only tells Allara as much as she needs to know.
The world-building is thorough and intriguing, different enough to be fun but not deliberately strange to keep readers off balance. The characters and culture are richly-developed and relatable. This is another of those stories I didn’t want to see end. Happily, it’s a long one.
My favourite line:
Chris’s breath, trapped in the back of his throat, seeped free. [Kindle location 2709]
The narrative slips between Lael, where Chris, who doesn’t believe in second chances, desperately needs a way to right the wrong he does in the beginning – and stop a war – and Chicago, where he’s trying to evade a hit-man. Between the two worlds, Chris may gain the wisdom needed to make his life count.
Dreamlander is a satisfying novel, the sort that leaves me mulling it over for a while before I can open another book. K.M. Weiland has two other novels, Behold the Dawn (historical) and A Man Called Outlaw (western), as well as a collection of resources for writers. She has a page on her website with extras and bonus features for Dreamlander, and her Helping Writers Become Authors site has a wealth of writing resources.
[Review copy from my personal library.]