By now you know that I’m a fantasy nut. Fantasy, science fiction, and Gothic horror, but mostly fantasy. For that reason, I discuss fantasy whenever possible. Today, that discussion comes in the form of a review. The book at the center of this post is Land of Mystica Series, Volume I: The Dream Walker by Michelle Murray.
For ages the magic in Mystica was tied to six wizards, three of light and three of darkness. The dark wizards went about causing mayhem and misery, and the light wizards would put out whatever fires the dark wizards started (literally and figuratively). Midnight, the most powerful of the dark wizards, regularly faced off with Lightning, the most powerful of the light wizards. One day Midnight decided he had had enough of fighting for control of Mystica and set out to eliminate his competition. To Midnight’s great surprise, his spell affected him as well, and he became just as trapped as the other wizards.
Magic in Mystica all but came to an end. Dragons turned to stone, and Ice People became trapped in their crystals. Only miniscule amounts of magic remained. Soon, even the wizards and the Goddess of the Sun faded into legend.
Until now. Someone has inadvertently set Midnight free, and he is bent on wreaking havoc and taking over Mystica. The land’s only hope is the Dream Walker, someone chosen specifically by the Dream Magic to wield it and save the world. The only problem: the Dream Walker is in our world.
Will the Dream Walker be able to reach Mystica in time to stop Midnight? Will she use her powers for good or for personal gain? Most importantly, who will try manipulate her or stand in her way?
Murray has put a lot of imaginative energy into this story. She has created a land with diverse geography, history, and cultures. She has also given Miranda the Dream Walker an interesting, albeit somewhat stereotypical, backstory. Some of the better parts of the novel come when Murray takes the time to describe Miranda’s surroundings. My favorite areas in Mystica would have to be the Plains, the Forest of the Lost, and the Dragon’s Lair, and I wish she had developed these areas and their people/creatures even further.
My biggest qualm with this book is the writing style. Mind you, it’s not necessarily bad writing, it’s just not my style, especially for such a complex world and plot. Murray utilizes more of a storytelling kind of writing, as though she were telling a story to a child or by a campfire. This sort of style can work, but I expected something more detailed from the title and plot. I also had some issues with when Murray decided to graze over details and when she decided to go more in-depth. While Midnight was preparing for the spell, for example, Murray slows down and describes almost every step, which bogged down the narrative. However, when it comes to Miranda’s dreams and learning what she is, I feel the narrative goes too quickly.
This writing style makes the work better suited for, perhaps, middle grade readers. The plot and histories are a little more elaborate than what that age group is typically exposed to, but the storytelling feels most appropriate for readers not yet in high school. There’s some vague depictions of violence, tragedy, and death, but nothing I think would disturbed readers in this age bracket. (Except, of course, for my favorite scene in the novel, in which a person gets swallowed up by the Forest of the Lost, but I’ll leave it up to you to decide if that’s too creepy for younger readers.)
The storytelling does allow for Murray to hint at some future plot points which have influenced me to want to read the other books. Namely, she uses some of the exposition to tell the readers about things regarding the “watcher” which they would not have known in a more “showing” writing style. I can’t discuss these points any further for fear of spoilers, but when you read the book, you’ll know the parts of which I speak.
Unfortunately, the storytelling style robs the book of some of its emotional elements. Considering the battles, the pillaging, and the lingering memory of Miranda’s dead parents, I would have expected more emotion shown by Miranda and the people of Mystica. Nevertheless, the descriptions of any sadder parts seemed almost…robotic, at times.
The Dream Walker has a lot of proofreading issues as well. While they did not necessarily plague every paragraph, there were enough spelling and grammatical errors to detract from the reading experience. Fixing this issue is only a matter of more proofreading and re-releasing a version which is edited better.
Overall, the plot and the world which Murray has created are enough for me to recommend The Dream Walker to fantasy lovers. At only 154 pages, it’s a quick read, maybe even less than a day’s worth if you can sit down and read it all at once. The storytelling style isn’t my cup of tea, but I still felt compelled to continue reading until I reached the end to see how Miranda’s story turned out. Given that the world and characters are so complex, I wish that there had been more pages dedicated to these wonderful places and interesting people. Fortunately for me, this book is the first in a series, so hopefully Murray pursues the elements that captured my attention in the other novels.
You can buy The Dream Walker by Michelle Murray as an eBook and in print on Amazon.