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Dream Walk by Meg Allison

May 11, 2010

Time out before we get into the book review to talk about publishers. I need to read more pure, self-published indie stuff, but I’ll admit that right now I’m reading a lot more epubs. I blame Fictionwise for this, as I must continue to be a loyal customer while they’ve had their catalog decimated by the whole Agency Pricing Model debacle and they must continue to pick my pocket with new sales promotions every week. Ah, relationships.

So anyways, I’m not even 100% sure that Samhain is even kosher for this blog. I mean, they were totally hooked up with Kensington who was going to print a couple of their books a month or something, but then they weren’t…I don’t know. I can’t keep up.

As long as it’s not Agency 5, I’m reading it right now, and as long as it’s not a big NY name that doesn’t need our help, I’m probably going to drag it over here and yak about it. K?

That said, on with the show where we’re talking about Dream Walk by Meg Allison, the first book in a planned series called “The Sentinels”.  This 2008 release comes in at just over 100K words, which is a length I’ve shied away from lately. But stories about dreams have sucked me in since Nightmare on Elm Street. Dreamscape, anyone? So I had to check it out.

The story is about a medium named Camille who went through a major relationship trauma at the age of nineteen, at the same time she went through a major family trauma. She picked up and started over, raising her younger sister in another state, and leading a chaste and blameless life. Now a successful romance author, due to her ability to collect love stories directly from the spirit world, she has moved back to her native home. But trouble still waits…

So out of concern for her safety, her editor–who also happens to be connected as a higher up in the paranormal world which is introduced in the story, arranges for her to have a bodyguard. But not just any bodyguard. A Sentinel. One with dream-walker abilities. In addition to her concern over threats Camille has received from a possible stalker, her editor is also concerned that the nightmares she’s been having are more than what they seem.

I think the biggest problem with this book may be that the style is dated. I’m not sure. Camille is one of those really good, couldn’t say an unkind word, pretty much a total virgin even though she’s way too old to be heroines. Sometimes she seems to have a backbone, other times it escapes her. She’s not a terrible heroine, but I feel like I’ve read her before. Likewise with the hero who was a hottie, but we’ve seen it before: the bodyguard with the abusive childhood, the never fully overcome drinking problem, the painful past in which someone was killed and it still haunts him…

Moreso than the characters, however, it was the style that got to me. Unlike today’s fiction which is much more fast-paced and driven, this story took its time, sometimes excruciating time, giving us the true thoughts and emotions of the characters in every single scene. And while some of that is good, too much of it was not good.

I had to work really hard to get through this book, and after I did, I really didn’t feel like it was worth it. There were no surprises. (There were surprises for the characters, but I wasn’t surprised.) The climactic end scene just wasn’t all that great. There was a bizarre magical thing that happened at one point that, rather than seeming original and neat came off to me as unnecessary and silly. And worse, it made the love scene kind of silly after we had slogged through pages of relationship angsting to get there.

I hate to sound harsh. It wasn’t a horrible book. Prose and command of language were fine. World-building was good and there were some really nice descriptions. There weren’t any gaping holes in the plot, although the plot itself was rather thin. I’m giving it 2 out of a possible 4 cookies because maybe it just wasn’t for me.

Neither Ms. Allison nor Samhain seem to be making it particularly easy to pass on the link love. You should find it at the usual book places as it’s available in e and print. I got mine at Fictionwise, of course.

Warning: Scenes of leather-clad hero may induce spontaneous drooling, erotic fantasies, and unfair comparisons to spouse or significant other.
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