Sunday, October 9, 2016

Review: Dreamlands by Felicitas Ivey

In one terror-filled moment, prisoner Keno Inuzaka is being attacked, and in the next, he's standing in the Dreamlands, a mirror of ancient Japan. To his surprise, he finds shelter in the magical world among strangers who swiftly become comrades.

Among them is Samojirou Aboshi, a handsome scholar who treats Keno with unexpected care and respect while openly pursuing his affections. To Samojirou, Keno is the embodiment of perfection, a man who could be his companion and lover forever.

When Samojirou offers him life and love as his companion, Keno realizes he may have finally found a home... but all that is threatened when a commando team from the real world arrives to steal the power of the Dreamlands and Keno's chance for a future of his own choosing.

Dreamspinner Press     |     Amazon

My Review:
4 stars

I finally got around to reading this book after having it sit on my TBR for years and I’m glad that I did. I greatly enjoyed the story, as it was an interesting plot in a fascinating world that I would love to learn more about. The worldbuilding here was exciting. I could tell that the author did her research into ancient Japan, as that was what the section of the Dreamlands that we visited was based on. However, she also added her own twists to her worldbuilding, with plenty of tidbits and hints to allow for future worldbuilding in the other books in the series. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the Dreamlands are like, and to learn more about the characters we met. The only downside is that I am still confused and have questions about elements of the worlds the author created, several of which I feel will likely be touched on later in the series. However, I would have liked a little more explanation of this world at times.

The second thing I really enjoyed were the characters. They were interesting, flawed individuals. The author didn’t try to portray one side as the bad guys and the other as the good guys. Instead, she shows how varied individuals are and that there isn’t always a black and white side. I really liked this dimension in the characters as it introduced a lot of potential. Add in a generations old feud between two groups of characters and I really want to see where the story goes in character development as well as plot.

My only big issues with the book came with some of the plot elements. I understand this is a fantasy world, so suspension of disbelief is obvious. However, some of the events in the book didn’t make any sense to me as they seemed to either go against what was previously established or they were just used as cheap plot development, which hurt the story and even led to a plot hole or two.

(WARNING: The next paragraph contains spoilers. Skip to the final paragraph if you don’t want to read any spoilers).

For example, none of the human technology worked in the Dreamlands and then suddenly it did, with no explanation of how. Plus, near the end of the book, Samojirou, who notices all these minor details and nuances throughout the entire book, lets two men escape, who then go on to hurt Keno. However, on the exact page where he says he didn’t care about letting those two men escape, he says earlier that “it will be safer for my Keno-chan if they were gone.” So not only is this a direct contradiction of what the character just said, it goes against his character, and only seems to be there to set up the next conflict. I felt that these were unnecessary since the author has shown that she has great writing chops with her worldbuilding.

Altogether though, I greatly enjoyed this story and the world the author has created. I can’t wait to see what happens next with these characters and where their journeys take them. If you’re looking for a good fantasy read, I highly recommend giving Dreamlands a try.

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