The Book of Dreams
The Chronicles of Faerie: Book 4
by O. R. Melling
Dana Faolan, half-mortal, half faerie teen, is unhappy. Recently moved to Canada from Ireland, she misses her home and blames her father for moving her away from her beloved Ireland. She hates Canada: it's a strange country, she doesn't have any friends, and worst of all, there's no magic like there is in Ireland. Her only consolation is the world of Faerie, where she can go and visit her mother, the Light-Bearer, any time. Faerie becomes an escape from reality, one that she perhaps relies on a bit too much.
Then, all the portals between the Earthworld and Faerie are severed by an unknown enemy, putting both realms in peril. If the gateways are not restored by Samhain, then the two realms will be divided forever. Only Dana can restore the gateways. Accompanied by her new friend (and possible romantic interest) Jean, a French Canadian with secrets of his own, and with help from Laurel and Gwen, two Friends of Faerie, Dana sets off on a quest to find the Book of Dreams. In the process, she just might find that there is magic everywhere, even in Canada.
The Book of Dreams is a big, beautifully written fantasy on a grand scale. In her travels, Dana encounters people of the many different cultures that make up Canada, and the story is rich with beliefs and folklore from around the world, including Irish, French-Canadian, Hindu, Christian, Chinese, and several native peoples, including Cree and Inuit.
Melling's writing is beautiful; even her many descriptions of food, from the vegetarian meals Dana's Indian stepmother cooks, to the variety of food she encounters on her journeys, make the book worth reading (and will make you hungry while reading it!)
The story is well-paced and sometimes has a mythic feel to it. The pace is a bit slower than some YA readers may be accustomed to; the battles and dangers are balanced with scenes of family and encounters with other cultures that are important to the development of the story, but which make this a more leisurely read. The pacing, combined with the length of the book, may intimidate some readers, but good readers who love richly woven stories will enjoy it, particularly those interested in folklore and other cultures.
Don't get me wrong: there is plenty of action, as well as interesting characters (I particularly liked Dana's aunts) and a hot romantic interest. There is courage, and sacrifice, and poignant moments. This is a Rocky Road ice cream kind of book, packed with lots of chewy and delicious treats.
O.R. Melling wrote the Chronicles of Faerie so that each book stands alone, and can be read independently, and yet all the books are linked. Each of the first three books in the series features a different story and a different protagonist, although characters from the other books sometimes make cameo appearances in each book. This book can also be read independently, but I think that it would be best appreciated by someone who has read the other books in the series, because it is kind of the culmination of the series, and all the characters from the other books play a part in this one.