Review: Dream Magic by Joshua Khan

Dream Magic by Joshua KhanDream Magic
Joshua Khan
Disney-Hyperion
Published April 11, 2017

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

About Dream Magic
People throughout Gehenna are disappearing, even the feared executioner Tyburn. Many of the nobles believe the kidnappings to be the work of the northern trolls, raiding south for the winter, and when Baron Sable and others head off to fight them, Castle Gloom is left guarded by only the squires.

Lily is struggling with her growing necromantic powers. The castle fills with ghosts, drawn like moths to a flame by the brightness of her magic. Zombies roam the country, some left over from those raised in SHADOW MAGIC, others awakened by Lily. Families are troubled by the returning dead, so Lily tries to incorporate them into day-to-day life, much to the resentment of the living.

Then Lily is attacked in her own castle by a mysterious sorcerer known as Dreamweaver, a young man determined to conquer Gehenna using jewel-spiders, strange crystalline creatures whose bite doesn’t kill, but sends victims to sleep. Lily soon discovers that Dreamweaver is harvesting dreams to fuel his magic.

Lily enters the realm of sleep known as the Dream Time, in an attempt to awaken all the captive dreamers. Instead she finds herself trapped within a dream, one where her family is still alive. With the help of Thorn and the ever loyal Hades, she must somehow overcome the evil Dreamweaver by using his own magic against him – and reclaim her kingdom.

My Review
This is one of those books I wanted to review because it sounded so original. I have not read Shadow Magic, but I had no trouble following the plot and characters of Dream Magic, the second book in the series. I absolutely loved the writing. It’s dark, for sure—I mean, Lily’s magic interacts with the dead. Zombies, ghosts, and trolls fill the pages of the story. But it’s also cheeky and off-beat and fun! Maybe a little bit of a Nightmare Before Christmas kind of tone, though obviously a completely different story. (It’s been a long time since I’ve seen that movie, so don’t quote me on that.)

Both Thorn and Lily had me from their earliest scenes. I loved his courage and her determination to bring justice and fairness to every one of her people. There’s a gentle romantic pull between them which was really fun, too. Their struggles to figure out what their roles are in the midst of their crazy world felt real and compelling.

Another thing I really enjoyed were the illustrations at different places in the book. I liked getting to see drawings of some of the critical moments, and character depictions brought the story even more to life.

Thorn and Lily’s ages (Thorn is twelve and Lily thirteen) make this more of a middle grade read, but the writing struck me as more like young adult. I guess it’d be considered upper middle grade, but I think it’d have strong appeal to young adult readers as well. Definitely a great fit for fifth and sixth grade readers especially.

Dream Magic on GoodreadsRecommended for Ages 8 up.

Cultural Elements
Dream Magic takes place in a fantasy landscape without a lot of racial descriptions. Some of the names sounded reminiscent of Asian culture. The biggest and most interesting social conflict in the story relates to Lily’s magic. Rumors of curses on women with magic leave people with strong prejudice against any woman who uses magic. Lily faces some harsh criticism and fear simply for being a female with magic. The conflict is well-grounded within the story. Other groups like trolls and zombies face discrimination as well. Lily and Thorn advocate fair treatment and acceptance for all creatures.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild and in context. For instance, a couple uses of Hell refer to the actual place. One use of damned refers to those cursed.

Romance/Sexual Content
A brief kiss between a boy and girl.

Spiritual Content
Lily, a necromancer, rules a kingdom closely associated with death. She possesses powerful magic that controls the dead and can summon ghosts and interact with undead creatures. Other kingdom rulers possess different types of magic—one controls wind, another light, etc.

Thorn possesses the ability to summon a giant bat monster named Hades to help him in battle. He doesn’t control Hades’s actions, but it’s clear he does have some influence and a relationship with it.

Violent Content
Battle scenes. Some creepy stuff related to zombies falling apart and such. Lots of spiders!

Drug Content
Brief references to drinking ale at a celebration.

Dream Magic on AmazonNote: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

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About Kasey Giard

Kasey is a mother, reader and aspiring author. When she's not reading or writing, you might find her out on the water fly fishing, pretending she can keep houseplants alive, or talking with the family rescue cat.
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