The Dream Alchemist by Joanna Chambers ~ Book Review by Lirtle

Dream walkers. Who are they? And why would one do all that he can to delay falling asleep? This is Bryn. Equally mysterious is an early question and Bryn’s reply… something is definitely not right. Color me intrigued.

dream-alchemist-cover-1 Title: The Dream Alchemist

Author: Joanna Chambers

Publisher: Samhain

Cover Artist: Gabrielle Prendergast

Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars

Blurb:

When the sun goes down, their passion awakens…and so do their nightmares.

Somnus, Book 1

Centuries ago, a man with Bryn Llewelyn’s dreamwalking ability would have been a shaman or a priest. In this time, he’s merely exhausted, strung out on too much caffeine and too little sleep.

Sleep means descent into Somnus—an alternate reality constructed of the combined dreaming consciousness of ordinary humans. A place he’d rather avoid. Trouble is, his powers don’t include the ability to go without sleep indefinitely. At some point his eyes close…and his nightmare begins.

As a teen, the treatment that cured Laszlo Grimm’s sleep disorder stole his dreams—and his ability to feel emotion. Petrified of needing more “treatment”, he clings to familiar rituals and habits. But lately his nightly terror has returned, and when he meets Bryn in the real world, the man seems hauntingly familiar. Not only that, Bryn awakens feelings in Laszlo for the first time in years…
Slowly Bryn and Laszlo realize they are both unknowing pawns in a plan of unspeakable evil. And that their powerful attraction could release the destinies locked within them—or be the instrument of their doom.

Lirtle’s View:

Chambers is so good at using physicality, physical reactions, as a way of conveying emotion: churning stomach as opposed to simple fear, fisting hands as opposed to thin irritation. It allows me to feel connected and tuned in at a gut level, I feel grounded.

Natural humor at the expense of clumsiness, our reactions to unexpected shifts in our surroundings. In other words, we find it funny when someone turns and trips over that ottoman. Empathetic humor. This is something else Chambers does well. It’s placed smartly, cutting the tension at the right moment. That tension isn’t severed, just slightly diffused, turning our attention in a new direction.

The language. Chambers molds and nudges and crams and persuades, which means I got to revel and lounge and dance and sink down into it. Such a gift.

He bent his head, avoiding eye contact in case there were any dreamwalkers around, and kept moving, pulling the anonymity of the crowd around him like a cloak.

So, what do you get when you toss all of these things into a single story, the mystery and contemporary and fantasy and paranormal? A concept that is cool as hell. I was only in the middle of chapter four and I was grinning at all of the possibilities, wondering what everything meant, where it was all heading.

Know what else is cool? When I’m surprised by a character and it makes me readjust my interpretation of the entire world the author has built. Yep, cool.

Bryn, he’s trying desperately to hold it all together. Little does he realize, literally, how strong he just might be, and how dangerous and important he could be. Part of him knows because he’s survived, but he’s only seen the first ripple of the effects of that strength.

Laszlo. Ohhh, this is going to be gooood. Discovery, an awakening, everything you believed to be true may not be at all. That unpredictability that comes with being… human. Is he?

Dylan, you are a walking mystery with a slippery personality and secretive motivations. I want to know more. I need to know more.

This is a dense story with multiple planes of existence, several characters that qualify as the leads, and rules that attempt to govern these planes and the lines that are meant to separate them. Bryn, Dylan and Laszlo are all finding out that may things are not what they seem. Rigidity is losing its grip and they’re feeling that unavoidable slip and slide into the cracks between the truths they thought they knew and the truths fighting to be discovered and remain hidden away.

The supporting characters are just as mysterious, complex and humorous. I could probably write a review just about them. For as little as some may be on page, their all constant irritations or distractions or revelations.

I have to get back to this: amidst all of this density, I kept having moments of “omigosh, this is so cool“. During the middle third of this story, I wrote hardly any notes. I was sucked in, all the way. And I didn’t want to miss a single thing. After all of the world(s) building, the threads connecting the characters started to thicken and reveal some complicated knots and unexpected fraying.

Even as I began to approach the end, I was unsure of exactly who to trust and believe in what they were saying. The exception was Bryn. And Laszlo, for the most part. See? I’m uncertain.

Speaking of Bryn and Laszlo, they are chemistry in human form. Electrified passion, that uncontrollable need to touch and see and be with someone is what I got every time they came together on page, no matter the circumstances.

This is an addictive mix of contemporary, fantasy, paranormal and mystery. I felt the tug between flying with Bryn and then literally being grounded on that old sofa when he came crashing back down. Dylan’s twisting and turning from seeming company man to friend, and Laszlo’s painful, abrupt and freeing transformation, kept me on my toes and I loved it.

There is still so much to learn about Somnus, the why and the how and the when. And the last sentence of this book? Damn. Damn. I’m ready to go back, right now.

Buy Links

Samhain
Amazon US
iTunes / iBooks
Kobo US

I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.

Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

Brandilyn
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