From the immediate appeal of the opening paragraph to the highly emotional ending, Ms. Weiland has crafted a wonderful story. Her world-building is creative and interesting without bowling the reader over, and her descriptions conjure colorful, unique scenery. The Reivers are delightful, the fearless Cherazii are compelling, the Garowai peculiar and mysterious. The unique technology puts the tale within the borders of steampunk without it actually becoming an alternate history of our world. Indeed, “our world” is firmly in the present day.
I wasn’t certain I’d be sold on the “dreamworld” premise, but it is written in a fashion that makes it entirely believable, entirely plausible—and the tension is increased by the sheer stress of the situation. The dreaming of the protagonist, from one world to the other, is so filled with emotion and physical duress that it’s a wonder he got any rest at all.
I found the development of individual characters very well done, with flawed and yet appealing personalities. Some of the relationships with other people were outstanding—particularly the one between Chris and his father—while others were a little lackluster. For all of the emotional involvement between one person and the other, which lent a fine sense of depth and reality, the romantic interest left me wanting somewhat, at least in the middle. It wasn’t bad, it was just not quite “there” for me. The end, on the other hand, was marvelous and heart-rending.
The theme of choices and consequences resonates. More people should be aware and attentive of their actions, not just to each other, but in the way it affects themselves.
Ms. Weiland skillfully handles the technical side of writing while presenting a nearly seamless tale that will have the reader avoiding chores and/or staying up late to reach a very startling, very satisfying ending.