Top critical review
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In the context of the series, it is a 4, on its own, a 3
on 11 October 2005
Well firstly, this book is a follow up to The Portable Door and before you go on any further I would stress that to aid overall understanding and enjoyment of the series, I would read that one first. Also that one is a funnier book and it's always good to get you in the right frame of mind.
Now that's out of the way... In Your Dreams picks up directly where The Portable Door finishes, Paul is still working for the highly unusual city firm J.W. Wells & Co but at least is now slightly more informed as to what the firm actually does. Now if your thinking that's typical of all new starters at city firms and that eventually everyone learns how they make money out of derivatives, you are a little of the mark. Paul is developing his magical powers in the highly competitive and not to say lucrative world of, erm, well actually... What do they do again?
As you may have gathered, things are far from black and white in the world Paul and his girlfriend Sophie inhabit. So much so that the addition of Paul's company car - Monika - causes him not to feel amazement, as one might expect when you drive a sentient car, but annoyance at its - sorry her - down right obstinance. Paul is going to have to overcome far more pressing issues though, if he is going to succeed in the cut throat corporate world, and unfortunately for him when Sophie leaves him to go to the Hollywood office, he is going to have to do it alone...
In Your Dreams explores more of the magic infested world that was created in The Portable Door and also gives us more of an insight into the Senior partners, most notable Judy di Castel'Bianco and the dashing Ricky Wurmtoter, as well as his assistant Benny Shumway. These are excellent characters to explore and are really well done. The advantage of a fantasy novel is that the characters can be anything you want them to be, but add this scope into some quirky observations of real city life and you have a really interesting set of people. Thankfully we see more of Rosie - Mr Tanner's Mum who is at times down right hilarious.
As others have mentioned this book is darker than the first, and doesn't have the same level of funny moments but I would challenge people not to find large swaths of it worthy of its predecessor. Unfortunately the comedy moments in the book weren't enough to lift this book to the heights of enjoyment I derived from the first book but I do not see that as a major issue. The scenes in the Bank of the Dead and the circumstances in which Paul visits them can at times be way out of keeping with the spirit of the rest of the book but does show a certain amount of flexibility in the writing and skill to keep the subject matter varied.
To me this book is clearly the 2nd in a trilogy and should be treated as such. There is a journey Tom Holt is trying to take us on, this instalment just felt a little like the Little Chef on the motorway; necessary but not exactly why you took the journey. I just hope the Earth, Air, Fire & Custard manages to pull it all together.