The police found Kane Montgomery in the river, having crashed a stolen car and burned down a building in the process. The problem is that Kane has no memory of how it happened or how he survived. In fact, he has no memory for months of his past and everyone, including Kane, wants answers. Kane is disoriented and scared and not sure quite what is going on or who to trust.
As Kane is trying to piece his life back together, he meets three kids from school who claim that they and Kane make up a group that calls themselves The Others. It seems that there is magic that is going awry in their town and creating what they call Reveries, a fantasy world built in someone’s mind that comes to life. As these fantasies become realities, it is up to Kane and his friends to help unravel the Reveries and bring them to a natural resolution, or the fabric of reality could be twisted into disaster.
The Reveries have always had the potential to go wrong, but it seems that things are getting increasingly dangerous. The power to create and shape reality is alluring and someone is out there trying to use that power for their own gain. Now Kane and his allies must fight to bring the Reveries to a resolution or their very reality could be destroyed.
I am not much of a fantasy reader, nor do a read a lot of young adult, but something about the description of this book just grabbed me and I decided to give Reverie a shot. I absolutely loved this debut novel from Ryan La Sala and it kept me captivated and enthusiastically turning pages for the entire story.
First off, let me say that I am being deliberately vague in my description of the book because so much of the fun of the story for me was discovering what is happening along with Kane. A big part of that is learning who is an ally and who is on the wrong side of things, and so I don’t want to get into a lot of detail. (I will note that an earlier summary of the book I saw had MUCH more detail, including specifics on the good vs bad guy, but the current blurb is much more vague so I am trying to mirror that here.) As I said, part of the fun is learning along with Kane what happened to him and who he can trust, and I think La Sala does a great job of having that unfold throughout the story. Information is given at just the right time to lead the reader through the journey and I enjoyed the slight mystery element here as we uncover what happened in the past and what is being planned for the future.
The world building here is also very nicely done. This story takes place in our current world, with the overlay of these fantasy worlds on top. A Reverie is created from someone’s mind, a world they build in their heads and a fantasy they create. It is like an elaborate day dream, only this dream comes to life, bringing in real people and having real consequences. Part of Kane’s role is to help see these Reveries through to their natural end and make sure nothing goes wrong, so everyone can go back to their normal reality when it is over. It sounds complicated, and I’ll admit, it is a little bit. But La Sala does a great job explaining what is happening and showing us what is going on in a way that had me able to follow the premise pretty easily as I was reading. I was a little unclear about the real world consequences, however. Specifically, if injuries (or worse) sustained in a Reverie carry over to the real world. But other than that, I found the world building really nicely detailed, incredibly creative, and quite interesting.
What I think this book really does so well is take this wonderful fantasy story and give it some really interesting layers. Here we have a story where people create worlds with their minds, often people who have realities that sadly don’t give them what they need or want out of life. We see some of the characters exploring worlds where they can be whatever they want and live the lives they desire. But at the same time, it can be a trap, living within yourself and your own mind. One of the messages here is that it is important to connect your inner self with others, not to hide away, but to find those connections with the world. We see that most in the way that Kane slowly finds his people and reconnects with those who support him and care about him. There is also a really nice exploration of people being more than meets the eye, and the struggle to overcome false impressions others might have of you, particularly as Kane gets to know people again who he doesn’t remember. I am not touching on nearly everything, but there are some really great themes here that nicely hit on issues that face teens in particular that add some nice weight to the story.
I would call this book a contemporary fantasy with a romantic subplot, more than a true romance. Kane does have a love interest and there is a happy ending for them, but that is not the focus of the story by any means. I’d say the book is more centered on an internal journey, as well as the bonds of friendship and family, than a romance. Still, we get a nice, sweet YA love element here that adds some romantic fun to the book. The story also features a really great, diverse cast, including some charming elderly lesbians who made me swoon a bit. Kane, himself, is gay and out (partly because he didn’t realize he was gay in time to ever be “in”). The book has some great, fun, campy moments (drag queen sorceress, Kane shooting rainbow magic out his fingers) that add a nice light touch.
So I really enjoyed Reverie and found myself quite captivated by the story. I was completely engrossed in discovering this world right along with Kane and found this one exciting and really engaging. I can definitely recommend it.
P.S. I would say this book is suitable for younger readers (though some elements are a bit thrilling), but also really enjoyable as an adult reader.