Customer Reviews


25 Reviews
5 star:
 (12)
4 star:
 (7)
3 star:
 (4)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:
 (2)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fractured, fabulous and fearsome modern folklore
This book is a total delight, a mature fantastical morality tale which deftly weaves a credible reality where djinn, sorcerers, fallen angels and a myriad mix of fae (fair and foul) exist unseen alongside the modern mortal world.
It took a little while to get going - so do persevere through the early, dense and slightly confusing chapters which feature all manner of...
Published 19 months ago by Rowena Hoseason

versus
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun but flawed
'Dreams and Shadows' is an interesting novel. Its various fairy creatures are not new - a quick Google reveals they all already exist in folklore - but most of them I had never heard of. Cargill brings these folklores together, telling a story that is in places quite mad, and a lot of fun. It is also very dark, featuring Hell as a key player and revelling in gore (making...
Published 20 months ago by Chantal Lyons


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fractured, fabulous and fearsome modern folklore, 21 Dec 2012
By 
Rowena Hoseason "Hooligween" (Kernow, Great Britain) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Dreams and Shadows (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This book is a total delight, a mature fantastical morality tale which deftly weaves a credible reality where djinn, sorcerers, fallen angels and a myriad mix of fae (fair and foul) exist unseen alongside the modern mortal world.
It took a little while to get going - so do persevere through the early, dense and slightly confusing chapters which feature all manner of weird characters with Gaelic names - and then this artful story completely captured my attention and swallowed up whole hours at a time. There are few books which can transport an adult to an imaginary environment with any great degree of success, but I happily submerged into insidious forests and the depths of dark lakes.
Not since I met Morpheus and entered the kingdom of Dream has a 'fairytale' story gripped me so successfully. Inevitably, the author is being favourably compared to Neil Gaiman. That compliment may be a little premature (this is only one story arc, after all, not an entire universe which took a decade to reveal) but the scope of the story, its counter-intuitive twists and its all-too-flawed heroes evoke echoes of Gaiman's flair and creativity.
Like the Sandman stories, 'Dreams and Shadows' examines the frailty - and the strength - of humanity, using supernatural characters to lay bare our shared ambitions and fears. Parental love, abandonment; romantic love, betrayal; envy, despair, revenge and redemption: the themes are all relevant to the real world, but here they are seen in skewed and distorted form as the killer goats of the Great Hunt stampede ever closer, and murderous Red Caps skewer their prey, while a succubus literally loves the life out of her beloved, the Unseelie and Seelie courts unite in outrage, and one young boy might grow to be a wizard who could undo everything.
Altogether marvellous. Only the finale lets it down a little when all the threads fizzle rather than spark to a conclusion. The angels were rather under-used, I felt. And a minor warning: there are some explicit scenes of violence and several unsettling moments which may rattle around your skull for a while. As you'd hope!
Leave yourself plenty of time to revel in the reading of this book. It's a carefully constructed world and a story well told, and one of those gems which is rare in the finding.
9/10

If this is your kind of thing, then you may also enjoy The Magicians; a 'what if?' adventure which mixes modern grit with the possibility that somewhere like Narnia might actually exist.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow, 26 Nov 2012
By 
Christian (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Dreams and Shadows (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Generally I try not to read the gushing tributes to the authors by the publishing houses as I figure that unless they love the author they wouldn't have published them. The back of the copy that I reviewed did have a suitably glowing tribute with a particularly bold question: is this your new favourite author? (I have rephrased it a little; the actual question is whether you have been introduced to your new favourite author, I felt the editing was acceptable).

This is a fantasy story deeply routed in the tradition of mixing the real and the unreal worlds together. You can tell the love for the genre that the author has with a really deep and faithful understanding of the types of faeries that are introduced. It is essentially the story of two boys and how their paths intertwine as they grow up. That sentence doesn't really give much away as it is much more than that, a modern fantasy set in and around Austin, Texas.

The writing is of a really strong quality from the start with a great deceptive first chapter that starts you one way before sending you the other. I did like the intercutting of the narrative with 'cut chapters' from an in world book. This particularly helped to ground what I had just read and to add further background to the characters.

I can't remember a book that has quite grabbed me for such a while. I really enjoyed the simplicity of some of the ideas, where lots of questions that we have about the world are seemlessly woven into the tapestry of this book. Halfway through it I wanted to write about it, and towards the end I didn't, as that would mean I had finished it.

Tragic, well written and with a really good imagination, this is a book I will probably read again and again. Really looking forwards to the next book. Thoroughly recommend to fantasy fans who don't mind it a little twisted.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark, intriguing, original., 15 Jan 2013
By 
Book Critic (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Dreams and Shadows (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A modern day fairytale come urban fantasy set in both the solid, everyday world, and an un-seen, parallel place of supernatural creatures from a broad mix of folklores, who live, half-hidden, alongside the humans. It gets off to an explosive start, the opening is stark and tragic - though I found the childhood chapters less interesting than what followed. The childhood-in-fairyland story is fine in its way, but more conventional, less original, less intriguing than the unique vision of the second half. Everything warms up, gathers speed and takes on a whole new tone - much darker, sinister, thoroughly Gothic - when Ewan and Colby grow into teenagers, living divergent lives in the same town.

Gothic is the word that keeps coming back to me as I try to describe this tale; a dark and bloody streak of it runs through the narrative - it's not something I generally associate with a story set in Texas. The location, in Austin's seediest bars and a mystic bookshop, certainly adds a dash of spice to this modern day tale of angels and demons that has more to do with the Brothers Grimm than anything by Disney. From start to finish, Dreams and Shadows is pretty raw and thoroughly gory - not one for the kiddies, for sure. The end appeared to be setting the scene for a new story. If this is the first in a series, I'm deeply sorry that the - for me - best character, doesn't make it to the end.

In short, this a great book by a creative author I'll be watching for sure.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous and terrifying modern fairy-tale, 23 April 2013
This review is from: Dreams and Shadows (Hardcover)
It's an extremely beautiful, strange, terrifying and addictive read. I have a feeling that the author managed to grasp the essence of old fairy tales and distill it into this story.

I would call it a contemporary fantasy, because it's not what we're used to seeing in our urban fantasy, and it describes the life and destiny of two human boys.

Colby is eight when he meet a Jinn in the forest and makes his wish to see every miracle, every monster and every hidden creature in this world. The weary, cursed jinn tries to persuade him to take on an easier wish, but like all stubborn eight year olds, Colby would not change his mind. The couple of such unlikely companions starts their long journey into the world of magic, angels and dragons.

Ewan on the other hand grows up as an enchanted child in a fairy forest, snatched from the cradle, replaced by a changeling, who drives his mother and father to their deaths. He does not know that he is a fairy sacrifice to the devil they make every seven years to keep their immortality. Fae world surrounding him is brutal and deadly to the humans, but Ewan grows up surrounded by love and completely unaware of his pre-destined death.

Enter the unknown chaos particle, - Colby. He meets him on his travels and two boys quickly become friends, but when Colby finds out that Ewan is going to die, he does everything in his power to prevent this.

Years later as young men both weary Colby and miserable Ewan are still friends, but only Colby remembers why, as fairy magic wiped Ewan's early memories. However you can't cheat your destiny and you can't cheat Jinn's curse, and one wily Coyote sets a catastrophic chain of events in motion to resolve the situation to his satisfaction.

To be honest, this book was a terrifying, at times, chilling and fascinating read. It felt like a mosaic was slowly being built together and suddenly you could see the whole picture in what felt like chaos before.

Dreams and Shadows is an undeniably brilliant debut from C. Robert Cargill and I wish with all my heart that he continues writing powerful stories like this one for many more years to come. A must read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No Gaiman but very enjoyable fantasy, 16 Mar 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Dreams and Shadows (Kindle Edition)
The press suggested this was heavily influenced by Neil Gaiman and Susanna Clarke, and I suppose this is true. They have both written this kind of fantasy. Susanna Clarke's Mr Norrell in particular is concerned with the fairy kingdom, and this novel is a welcome addition to the genre, although i would say it is not as well written as American Gods or Mr Norrell..

However, it is well written, and the story is compelling, if not entirely well planned. There are elements that don't tie up or feel somewhat peripheral to the story. As a whole though it's enjoyable, contains a lot of interesting detail about this mythology, has an interesting protagonist and kept my attention throughout..
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun but flawed, 25 Nov 2012
By 
Chantal Lyons (Kent, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Dreams and Shadows (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
'Dreams and Shadows' is an interesting novel. Its various fairy creatures are not new - a quick Google reveals they all already exist in folklore - but most of them I had never heard of. Cargill brings these folklores together, telling a story that is in places quite mad, and a lot of fun. It is also very dark, featuring Hell as a key player and revelling in gore (making it unsuitable for younger readers). I was surprised to find Hell in a story about fairies, but I can't but praise Cargill for his fascinating musings on the nature of Hell - to give a hint, he presents an argument for why Hitler could well be in paradise.

Why only 3 stars? The first half of the book is noticeably better than the second, and there were too many flaws for me to ignore, both within the plot and within the narrative itself. In terms of plot, the adult Colby Stevens - one of our human protagonists - seems rather thick, and slow to grasp events, despite his supposedly extensive knowledge of the fairy world. The climax of the novel was unforgivably cliché, a standard mash of characters punching or stabbing each other. I had expected better when the rest of the story felt so unusual.

In terms of narrative, the pacing felt a little off, and I was not a fan of the constant switching of POVs (point of view) between different characters in the same scenes, sometimes in the same paragraphs. And one particular bugbear for me was the way the author was happy to describe people being mutilated and killed in exquisite detail, but too prudish to describe two characters making love (God forbid!).

I was hooked by 'Dreams and Shadows' from the beginning, but gradually my delight waned and by the end I was left feeling deflated. I cannot help but think this novel would have benefited from a few more redrafts before publication. It has the spark of potential, but it is unpolished.

(But my, what a great cover!)
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dark modern fairytale, 6 Feb 2014
By 
CoralFang (London, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Dreams and Shadows (Paperback)
The word brutal springs to mind when trying to describe the fairy folk in this tale.

Based heavily on Irish folklore and other incredibly well researched European ghouls and goblins, Cargill creates a parallel world living alongside modern day America filled with all those nasty little creatures you were told stories about when you were a kid.

It starts in the traditional "Once upon a time" Disneyeque way but quickly rips off any veneer of "happily ever after" by committing a vicious double killing in the first chapter and simply continues in this fashion, filling the pages with more blood, horror and violence than you can shake a stick at. What I particularly liked was the way the story was interspersed with "extracts" from fictional guides to the fae folk that. It is eventually revealed that these books are written by one of the characters (but I won't spoil it and say which one!). By doing this it allowed the author to explain the history and myths of certain creatures without trying to fit in lengthy descriptions into the main plot.

I thought it was beautifully written, that the plot was strong and well constructed and that the characters were engaging. I initially thought this to be a stand alone novel but am excited to discover it is actually the start of a series.

However, for all my praise, be warned! This book is not happy. Nothing goes right. Lots of characters die. If you are interested in folklore, appreciate well written fantasy novels and are a fan of the series Supernatural this is the book for you. If not, probably best to swerve it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Between two worlds, 24 Dec 2012
By 
Paul Tapner (poole dorset england) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Dreams and Shadows (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A novel of urban fantasy [something set in the real world as we know it, but with supernatural elements that only some can see getting involved, just in case you don't know the term]. It's three hundred and seventy four pages long. It's divided into two parts, and further into forty eight chapters plus an epilogue.

Some strong language and violence does mean it's strictly for older readers. It's also a story that's complete in one volume, and seemingly not the start of a series or a trilogy.

The opening tells us about how a couple meet. Fall in love. Marry. Have a child. And find their happy relationship shattered when the baby is replaced by a changeling. All of this is covered in a handful of pages and is quite superbly written. Like a story being told to you, it fills in a great amount of detail in a short amount of time, and it absolutely grips.

There's a lot more to come after that, though. Such as occasional alternating chapter which are writings about the details of various facts about the supernatural world and the creatures that live there.

But we're also on quality prose ground again with the chapters about Colby, a boy who meets a being that can grant wishes. And who knows better than anyone that wishes have consequences.

More scenes alternate with the above two styles, and tell us of life for the creatures in the supernatural world. All of whom have very differing attitudes to and uses for ordinary mortals in our realm.

There does after about seventy or so pages come a point where you wonder where all this is going, and where Colby's scenes seem far more interesting than anything else. But keep going because everything does all come together into one solid plot. Events from the first chapter are very important to all of this.

The supernatural realm is not overly described, but the book remains very readable. A strong relationship between two characters does come out of it.

Come part two, which is roughly the entire second half of the book, time moves on somewhat and all those involved in part one now have to deal with the consequences of what came out of it.

The pages in this part do turn very nicely, and the character development is good, as is the recognition of the way folks change once they get older. There is a lot going on in this part so you do have to stop and try and take things in from time to time.

All is wrapped up in a decent and memorable ending. The epilogue is pretty memorable as well.

A decent debut. Lots of imagination and invention and some clear and clever writing. I liked it a lot but never quite felt it was brilliant, thus it doesn't quite get five stars. But this is a clearly the work of a writer to watch.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars An unexpected treat, 29 Jun 2014
This review is from: Dreams and Shadows (Paperback)
It's a while since I've read any fantasy so I wan't sure how much I would enjoy this. I picked it up on a whim and can honestly say it's one of the best books I've read in some time. The start is a little dense but it lays the foundation for a really exciting story with all the magic, brutal morals and vivid images of a traditional fairytale. It's really great to find a writer unafraid of flawed heros any of whom may or may not make it to the end. I found myself consuming the last hundred or so pages in a few hours and thoroughly loving them. A great book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Seeped in folklore, 20 Jun 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Dreams and Shadows (Paperback)
Watch Colby and Ewan as they survive a world full of magic and fae creatures. Interpersed with 'exerpts' from folklore and 'real' life reports of fae -human interations its a brillaint read.

Its a bit slow to begin with and it reads almost as if the plot was a second thought. But by the first half was over I knew it was worth the effort.

This book is dark and wonderful. More words canot do it justice. I would recommend it to you if you love the idea of realistic dark fae.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Dreams and Shadows
Dreams and Shadows by C. Robert Cargill
4.49
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews