Marcus faces a punishing existence as an Indentured in the mines of BáHür, sustained only by the love of his mother and the dreams inspired by her tales of ancient kings and the Star Sailors. When an opportunity for freedom arises from nowhere, the boy feels hope for the first time — until everything goes horribly wrong.
On the very edge of death, dodging slavers and the restless dead, Marcus is saved by the mystical Keshu, whose terrifying leader Takuri demands utter obedience on a journey across worlds and time itself. Amid war, sorcery, and intrigue, Marcus must choose just how far he is willing to go for a second chance.
An ambitious, fresh take on Science Fantasy and Horror, DREAMSHADOW explores the unrelenting power of the human will, the price of redemption, and the blurred line between good and evil.
Dreamshadow is an interesting proposal by the American writer Daniel Sonderling. It blends several genres, resulting in a peculiar pastiche, mixing sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. And honestly, it’s so addicting, being a book that I read in almost one sit, but having to slow sometimes because it’s a quite unique novel, with some elements that require you to think about them.
In reality, Dreamshadow is a big experience, a journey in time and space, working better as an oniric travel than as a story per sé. Marcus’ attempt to protect his mother from the cruel officials in the mines goes in the worst of ways, and after this, he ends up only finding hope after getting found by the mystical Keshu, leading Marcus to the enigmatic Takuri, and involving him in a power fight that he can’t really understand, among two powers: Takuri and the Shadow Prince.
And this clash of powers is one of the main parts that drives Dreamshadow. Both of them consider themselves a benevolent force, wanting to destroy the other one; using whoever they need as disposable pawns, manipulating and gaslighting those pawns. Takuri’s relationship with Marcus is a clear example of this, being, in reality, a vampiric demon whose main purpose is to shape the world to his own image. And The Shadow Prince also has secrets hidden under his sleeve.
And even if the main characters are something you should not admire, sometimes you end up thinking that maybe their vision is right, and just what Marcus is being presented is straight-up lies from the other part. Sonderling does an excellent job of giving incomplete information, making you question what is real and what is just a hallucination. The distinction between the Otherside, the space between Worlds, is really tenuous.
Again, the main strength of this book is how it starts playing with your mind. Hope is easily killed at the start of the book, sometimes gets introduced, but never stays for too much time. The figure of the girl is the way Marcus starts to get the real nature of what Takuri’s asking him. Some of the scenes by themselves require further analysis, acting as what keeps together the whole experience of Dreamshadow.
I really enjoyed the mix of horror and fantasy (and lightly sci-fi) that Dreamshadow is. There are so many things I can’t explain because it will be blatantly a spoiler, but I recommend this book to anybody who wants something different, and something that will play with your mind. Daniel Sonderling wrote something really unique.
Daniel Sonderling is a writer, consultant, and occasional human currently surviving the Apocalypse in the American Midwest.