Rating: 4 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

 

The son of shepherds, Astra grew up intimately familiar with wide, grassy expanses of the hillside where his family lived. But where his parents saw the endless green as a means to an end, Astra saw endless potential. The whole mountainside was a huge canvas for his wild and changing daydreams. He created fantastical worlds for himself to explore. And at the end of the day, he’d report to his parents about his imaginative exploits. Astra’s parents were less thrilled with their son’s dream-filled stories. It was worse than being lazy, it was proof Astra was only worthy of neglect or even a beating.

One day, Astra stumbles into a forbidden forest. There, he finds a being who doesn’t just tolerate Astra’s creative imagination, but commends it. After a brief conversation and a short test, Astra proves himself worthy of picking up the mantle of that being, of Somnus, the former god of dreams.

After a disastrous venture home some years later, Astra ensconces himself in the safety of the dream lord’s forest. Through the dreams of mortals, he changes himself to reflect on the outside who he is on the inside while walking through endless dreams. He’s had virtually no interactions with people outside their dreams, which is why he’s so put out when his forest directs a mortal dancer named Cillian to his sanctuary. But Cillian is more than just a dancer, and more than a mortal. Long, long ago he was cursed by Pallas, the corrupted god of art. Cillian can never rest and can never truly enjoy dance. What’s worse is that his reputation still draws talent to the troupe time and time again. Each newcomer is a potential new target for Pallas’ hate. Unlike the torture of no rest, though, Pallas slowly kills other dancers and artists by turning them into puppets. After hundreds of years watching members of his dance troupe fall victim to Pallas’ vendetta against art, Cillian’s willing to try anything. Even if he has to work with a bratty, attractive, sleepy, submissive god of dreams.

Daybreak is the third book in Iris Foxgloves’ Immortals Descending series, and the action is set after the events in books 1 (Storm Front) and 2 (Shadowfall). While I think this story could stand on its own, I think readers will enjoy the references to and cameos by Death and Arwyn if you read the first two books first. I would also encourage fans to search Cillian’s name in Storm Front (I think the best time to do that search would be after Chapter 1).

For me, I really enjoyed how open to interpretation some story elements are. Why Cillian as a mortal is of such interest to Pallas was a big question, specifically why she has no qualms about killing others, but refuses to kill Cillian. This got answered quite tidily later. Another was Astra’s gender identity. It’s only when Astra explained his affinity for “moon children” (who are undoubtedly transgender mortals) and groups himself with them, that it clued me into the idea that Astra was transgender. I just really liked that this was an aspect of the character, but far from a defining one. Or, rather, his past created a means for him to have a deeper connection to some of his supplicants.

The romance that developed between Astra and Cillian was interesting. This felt like the first real utilization of the dominant/submissive qualities in the series. To be clear, both Cillian and Astra identify as null-aligned, neither dominant nor submissive. Before they met each other, neither one got so much as a slight tingle of one trait or the other. But as soon as they were in each other’s orbits, it was clear that Cillian was dominant and Astra was submissive. I thought this was a fun take on an “only ever for you” theme. Even though Cillian and Astra started off at odds, the attraction constantly spiked and often subconsciously. For a good long while, Cillian wrote off his physical reaction to Astra as a reaction to finally, with Astra’s godly powers, being able to get some actual rest. Similarly, Astra was spending time in his mortal form for the first time in centuries and had to be reminded what it means to eat (which includes chewing AND swallowing) and what happens several hours after having consumed food. The romantic dynamic wasn’t my favorite part because sometimes it was hard to know if Astra really was enjoying Cillian’s attention (specifically in bed) or if it was just the Dom/sub qualities (which, granted, they only feel when they are with each other). Eventually, though, I came to appreciate that their intimate moments mimic all their other moments, which included lots of teasing and (not inaccurate) accusations of being bratty.

My only quibble with the overall flow of the story was that I didn’t feel like there was quite enough exploration (okay, angst) over the possibility that Astra and Cillian may not end up together forever. They both came to realize that was a distinct possibility. I felt like there was room on the timeline for them to either voice their fears to each other (or act upon those fears with melodrama). Instead, it was more of a quiet simmer and it got resolved at the culmination of the final battle (where there was some big, yet strangely understated, existential angst). After seeing these two fall hopelessly in love with each other, I wanted to revel in that unknown future for longer than we got.

Overall, I thought this was a delightful addition to the series. Cillian and Astra pull off a softer version of reluctant friend to lovers trope. Cillian’s curse was extremely compelling and the way Astra’s dreams are perhaps the only effective way to combat the evil made sure Cillian and Astra were stuck with each other…and grew to love one another. With these two taking on Pallas in this story, I’m curious to know what will be the focus of action in the forthcoming book.