Sunday, April 14, 2013

Review: Dreams and Shadows by C. Robert Cargill

Book Description:

A brilliantly crafted modern tale from acclaimed film critic and screenwriter C. Robert Cargill—part Neil Gaiman, part Guillermo Del Toro, part William S. Burroughs—that charts the lives of two boys from their star-crossed childhood in the realm of magic and mystery to their anguished adulthoods

There is another world than our own—one no closer than a kiss and one no further than our nightmares—where all the stuff of which dreams are made is real and magic is just a step away. But once you see that world, you will never be the same.

Dreams and Shadows takes us beyond this veil. Once bold explorers and youthful denizens of this magical realm, Ewan is now an Austin musician who just met his dream girl, and Colby, meanwhile, cannot escape the consequences of an innocent wish. But while Ewan and Colby left the Limestone Kingdom as children, it has never forgotten them. And in a world where angels relax on rooftops, whiskey-swilling genies argue metaphysics with foul-mouthed wizards, and monsters in the shadows feed on fear, you can never outrun your fate.

Dreams and Shadows is a stunning and evocative debut about the magic and monsters in our world and in our self.



Those are the three words I wrote down while reading Dreams and Shadows, and beneath those words I wrote "NOT TINKERBELL" in bold letters. I'll stand behind those words, adding that this is an expertly woven debut that fans of dark fantasy will want to add to their shelves. Neil Gaiman or Clive Barker come to mind, but I was also reminded of Brom and his twisted take on Peter Pan. This is not your typical fairy tale at all, and these guys are more apt to eat you alive than sprinkle you with sparkly dust.

The book fluctuates between the main characters of Ewan and Colby, beginning when they are both children, telling their stories individually until they become twisted together by fate and magic. The chapters are separated by excerpts from a book by the fictional Dr. Thaddeus Ray that explain the fairy lore outside the narrative as it applies to the upcoming story. This creative touch added depth, but was also most insightful because it kept the storytelling from being too bogged down in world-building. These detailed excerpts also kept the story focused more on the relationships between each character and how they relate to one another. Its these very intricate relationships that will draw you in and keep you reading well past midnight. Nothing is as it seems, the choices Ewan and Colby make are not predictable, and the battle between the veils is violent, gruesome, and bloody. 

I highly recommend you give C. Robert Cargill and his twisted imagination a try! But be warned, you will never look at fairy mounds or djinn in quite the same way. I am adding this to my permanent keeper bookshelf and will probably send a few copies out to friends and family.

*Reviewed by Anna Dougherty

About the author:

C. Robert Cargill has written for Ain't It Cool News for more than a decade under the pseudonym Massawyrm, served as a staff writer for and, and appeared as the animated character Carlyle on He is the screenwriter of the film Sinister. He lives and works in Austin, Texas.  

You can find him hanging around on Twitter:

No comments: