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.