DISCLAIMER: I WAS SENT A FREE COPY OF THIS BOOK IN RETURN FOR A FAIR AND UNBIASED REVIEW
‘She slid down through the tunnel of light. I saw her peach-coloured glow as she landed silently at the foot of the bed’
Life is already complicated enough for Awa Bryant when she starts having weird dreams – waking dreams – and strange coincidences start appearing in her real life.
She meets dreamcharmer, Veila, a quirky glowing creature who helps to guide Awa through the mysterious Dreamrealm.
At first the Dreamrealm is a glorious escape from Awa’s daily struggles but something is not right… Soon Awa discovers she has a bigger quest, and everything she cares about is at stake. Will she be brave enough to face her fears and save her friends?
What I thought
When I started reading this it felt a bit like a generic 8-12 fantasy, a girl gains a special power and has to save the world. But it very quickly grows into something more than that.
Set in New Zealand with a Māori character I can’t help but wish I knew more about their culture as I’m sure there are many references that I’m just not picking up – apart from the very explicit ones where a plant is sent as a sign from Awa’s ancestors. Awa isn’t THE dreamweaver that was once prophesied about, she is A dreamweaver, a sensitive with the ability to walk around in dreams, something rare not unique. Previous dreamweavers have taken years to learn and understand their craft, Awa doesn’t suddenly understand it and make it work on the first go, the ending in this book is about just delaying things and distracting the Fragments so she has time to start learning. It’s a nice change to see someone who isn’t certain in their abilities and who isn’t innately good at it with no training.
From the tone of this first book I don’t think the series is going to be about destroying the darkness, it feels more about it setting a balance and accepting those darker parts.
‘Awa and the dreamrealm’ doesn’t shy away from current issues for kids, especially from starting a new school. Awa has anxiety issues and her parents are worried enough about what she tells them of her dreams that they send her to therapy and want her to talk tablets to help her sleep. It doesn’t deamonsie tablets or therapy, Awa agrees that it helps some people but doesn’t think it will help her. The way she talks about her anxiety feels real
Moving schools means finding new friends and often means dealing with bullies as you’re different and don’t fit in. Awa’s bully is no different and picks on her for being part Māori and part Chinese, using racist terms and doing everything she can to make Awa feel uncomfortable. When her mother finds out what’s going on she forces the apology to be public and for the school to take ownership of letting it fester and happen. Awa might not like it but her mum has a point, any apology had to be public to make sure that Felicity doesn’t get away with it and because what she did made it public in the first place.
I really like the hints that Awa is asexual. She thinks she’s broken for not having a crush on anyone at age 13. I’d like this to be touched on a bit more in the future and for Awa to understand herself a bit more and realise that it’s fine to bit fancy anyone. But it’s a really nice way of letting kids know that they aren’t broken and that there is nothing wrong with them
Why I read it
I was offered a free copy for review but I said yes because I’m interested in this kind of fantasy and want to read some younger fantasy. Also walking through dreams is never going to not be interesting
This is a really good kids fantasy book, diverting from the usual tropes and taking the adventure in a different way.
Am I glad I read it? Yes
Did I enjoy it? Yes
Would I read it again? Probably, I want to see where the series goes and it’s a quick enough read that I might reread this one first
Would I recommend? Yes.
Thanks for Rachel for organising this book tour and continually giving me the opportunity to read books that I might not normally pick up.