In the world of Dreamstrider, a few main countries sit near each other, and the time period is akin to perhaps the late 1800s. In Barstadt, an emperor rules and many of the country’s inhabitants aren’t even citizens; they dwell in the tunnels under the city. Livia grew up as a tunneler, scraping by and just staying alive, but during her daytime work cleaning for a professor who researches the dream land of Oneiros, Professor Hesse notices she may have a gift he can build on. He introduces her to the wonders of Oneiros, and he is able to teach her to be a dreamstrider, not only capable of going to that alternate world but then finding someone else’s sleeping soul and temporarily taking over that person’s body.
Her talent allows her to escape the tunnels as a temporary citizen and work for the country’s Ministry of Affairs, the “secret police” of the emperor. She and other young people (including a boy named Brandt whom she loves but is out of her reach because he’s a noble) essentially carry out work as spies. They are particularly needed when their country is threatened by the Land of the Iron Winds and invasion may be imminent. And when it becomes apparent that someone is helping that land’s Commandant with some kind of mysterious connection through Oneiros, Livia’s skills are vitally needed. Her main problem is that she has never felt completely up to the task; though no one else in the land can dreamstride, she knows that Professor Hesse has always continued to try to train others to do it and she feels she’s barely adequate. Her lack of confidence in herself could either get herself killed, or, just maybe, save the country.
The concept of Dreamstrider is fascinating and the intrigues and politics well crafted. I liked the book pretty well but didn’t completely fall into the story, for some reason. Perhaps I wanted to explore more of the world of Oneiros, its history, the priests in Barstadt who “work” there and help people interpret their dreams, etc. Perhaps Livia’s constant lack of confidence got old. I did enjoy the ending and the changes in Livia’s character. Overall, though, cool concept, pretty well written.
Rated: Mild. There are only a few uses of mild language. There are some basic kissing scenes and references to two female characters having had a relationship. There is some violence, and the climactic scenes near the end feature a number of mentions of a fair amount of blood. There are some decidedly bad characters who would stop at nothing to achieve their ends.