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Review: Dreams and Shadows / Author: C. Robert Cargill / Publisher: Harper Voyager / Release Date: February 26th

One of the standard tropes of the urban fantasy genre is the dark fairy tale. But in practice this is usually little more than a throwaway means of introducing monsters into an otherwise mundane world, which is a shame as stories about changelings and other horrors of the fairy realms have some real potential. Dreams and Shadows portrays fairies the way they are meant to be: an alien terror that lurks only a wish away from our world.

Dreams and Shadows charts the adventures of Ewan and Colby, who have their lives permanently altered during childhood through exposure to the supernatural. They're both sympathetic protagonists – Ewan is the classic fish out of water, while Colby is someone whose world has been destroyed by an unwise word – and you can’t help but feel for them. Which is just as well as, in the absence of a strong supporting cast, the novel pretty much revolves around the two boys and their encounters with various weird and wonderful creatures.

The author has created a world where genies argue philosophy and complain about booze, and angels use rooftops as a place to perch. Though none of this is terribly original or subtle, it is very well put together and the narrative is multi-layered and clever, but not so cunning as to be a difficult read. If you liked American Gods and Some Kind of Fairy Tale, then this will be right up your alley. Undoubtedly one to watch, C. Robert Cargill has penned a thoroughly enchanting debut novel.

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