Bryn Llewelyn is a dreamwalker, which means when he descends into sleep, he is aware of what he is doing and can interact with people and things in the dream world, Somnus. Dreamwalking is something most people can’t do, and Bryn is actually somewhat of a prodigy, coming into his skills at the young age of seven. Lately Bryn has been avoiding sleeping and entering Somnus however. Whenever he goes, he keeps getting pulled against his will to a tower that emanates evil and Bryn knows he must stay away, but he can’t control the pull that keeps bringing him there.
Laszlo Grimm has had his own issues with sleep. From the time he was a child, he had “episodes” that required treatment in a psychiatric hospital. Now Laszlo has his disorder mostly under control, with the help of a regimented sleep schedule and some medicinal tea his doctor has prescribed. The price Laszlo pays for no longer dreaming is that he is emotionally deadened, but he feels like he has no choice in order to keep his problems under control.
One night in Somnus, Bryn encounters Laszlo near the tower. At first Bryn thinks Laszlo is just a drone, one of the millions of mindless people dreaming with no awareness of where they are or what is happening. But that isn’t quite right either. Laszlo is clearly not a drone, but he doesn’t seem to recognize himself as a dreamwalker either. But it is clear that somehow Laszlo is involved in whatever is compelling Bryn to the tower and the evil forces inside.
When Bryn meets Laszlo in the real world, Laszlo has no memory of meeting him in Somnus. As the men spend more time together, they find themselves drawn together in the waking world. Laszlo begins to feel emotions that have been deadened for years. And Bryn feels connected to the waking world in a way that he seldom feels. The two men clearly have a connection that both want to pursue. But Bryn has learned more about what is in the tower and what it wants with him and it seems like somehow Laszlo is in the middle of it all. Now Bryn must help Laszlo understand what he is doing in Somnus and stop it. But things may be out of their control, as darker forces are at work. They must fight to figure out what is the evil forces have planned, and what hold they might have on Laszlo, before their lives are not the only things at risk.
Wow, this was an incredible story, you guys. I started it and I could barely put it down. Chambers has created such a wonderfully fascinating world in this book and I was blown away by the fabulous detail and the creative world building. I wish that my explanation of the plot could better capture how masterful this story is, and I really fear I am not doing it justice. Partly I am trying not to give too much aware here. As the story continues we learn more about Bryn’s abilities, Laszlo’s past, the evil in the tower, and the dreamwalkers in general. It all unfolds so beautifully that I am hesitant to say too much for fearing of spoiling your reading experience. But I worry I am not quite conveying how well Chambers builds this world and how clever and creative it all is.
For me the magic of this book starts with the fantasy and world building, but it wouldn’t have the same emotional pull without Laszlo and Bryn. They are the faces that help us navigate the story and we learn about the world through their experiences. I loved the contrast between them with Bryn as this prodigy who learns about his abilities at such a young age, the youngest person ever to come into their dreamwalking skills. As the story continues, we learn more and more about Bryn’s power and how strong he really is. Then we have Laszlo, who has had his skills buried and deadened and who is just now figuring out what he is and what has really been happening to him all these years. I loved the contrast and the way it builds this urgency for Bryn to help Laszlo learn about Somnus and his abilities so they can help stop the evil forces from pretty much destroying the world. The guys have a slow build to their relationship, but when they come together it is filled with so much heat, and I loved the way being together just awakens something inside each of these men.
So this one was a huge winner for me. It is the first of a series and I am dying to see where Chambers takes us next (we do get some hints in the Epilogue). For those of you who have read Chambers’ fabulous Enlightenment series, I am so impressed at how she is able to switch genres here to something totally different and still create a story that is so incredibly well done. I was just blown away by this book and I hope that my enthusiasm may make up for not quite capturing it as well as I had hoped in this review. The world building is so creative and unique and the characters are compelling. I adored The Dream Alchemist and can’t wait to read more. I definitely recommend it to you all.