Dreamstrider by Lindsay Smith (2015)
Livia is the only dreamstrider in the Barstadt Empire. Thanks to her special ability to travel into Oneiros, the dream world, Livia can inhabit the bodies of others and access their memories. Both of which make her uniquely suited to work as a spy for her country. Livia’s work also gives her the chance to earn her freedom and leave her past as a lower-class tunnel dweller behind. But trouble is lurking and with only her partner Brandt by her side, Livia is uncertain who she can trust as the stakes climb higher.
Dreamstrider is Smith’s third novel and a standalone fantasy adventure.
There is a lot to like in this novel. Smith delivers a high-octane novel filled with action, spies, intrigue, and more action. From the prologue on the story is fast-paced with a sense of urgency even before the main plot gets rolling. In terms of creating tension and urging the reader on, Dreamstrider is an absolute winner.
The premise here is also fascinating. Unfortunately, because of the action! and the urgency! throughout the story, many aspects of Livia’s world are never properly explained. Why is Livia the only dreamstrider in Barsadt? How can other people show her the world of Oneiros but not do what she does? What kind of world is it that readers are visiting in this novel? All of those questions are answered in only superficial ways throughout the narrative. While moments are evocative and strong, the world building never feels entirely cohesive or complete despite Smith’s obvious vision and utterly original fantasy elements.
Another downside of the story starting so fast and the action being so relentless is that it’s often hard to get to know Livia and the other characters in the novel or to understand their motivations.
Readers who are able to go along with the basic conceits of the novel without too many questions will be rewarded with a thrilling spy story unlike anything else.
Dreamstrider is a solid spy fantasy that has a lot of unique qualities. It is guaranteed to appeal to readers who like their stories more action-driven than character-driven as well as fans of supernatural espionage, fantasy with a faith-based element (as Barsadt holds dreams sacred), as well as readers who like stories about the dream world. Fans of The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson or The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O’Brien should take special note and pick up this title.
*A copy this book was acquired from the publisher for review consideration*
5 thoughts on “Dreamstrider: A (Rapid Fire) Review”
Gah, I do not KNOW about this one. See, I want to love it, in part because of the cool cover, I admit. And like, PARTS of it sound good. But I don’t know if I can get past the world building (or lack thereof). I usually have questions. ALL the questions. So I am wondering if maybe this just isn’t the book for me. Thanks for the fabulous review!! :D
I think of myself as a reader who can go with a lot of things that don’t perfectly make sense but this one was really too much. I would say if you are intrigued by the dream walking premise rather than just the cover then you should give it a try from the library.
I’ve seen so much, but still so little of this book. The cover and the fangirling is everywhere, but I haven’t seen very many reviews of it yet. But from your review, it sounds amazing. I might have to grab a copy because it’s just different enough from my normal tastes. :)
Yay! I hope you really enjoy it. You are absolutely right about this book being very unique. (And existing in a sort of vacuum–I haven’t seen a lot of reviews either which is unusual for a book getting so close to its publication date.)
I completely agree with your review! We’re dropped into the action and not much explanation is given. I ended up finishing this one and liked it more than I thought I would but mainly because the plot was compelling enough that I wanted to read on. I really wish we had gotten to know the characters more though =/