Dreams And Shadows by C.Robert Cargill

I was given this book by Harper Voyager to review.

Just a simple story of 2 young boys. One boy and his djinn and one boy and his changeling.  What? Huh?
Okay not so simple!

Ewan was taken from his human parents as an infant and replaced with a changeling. The same but not quite. Ewan was raised by the fairies for a special purpose. His changeling, Knocks, was returned to the fairies and raised along side Ewan, always knowing he was a second class citizen. Both boys are enamored with a girl fairy, Mallaidh.

Colby is a mediocre boy living a mediocre life in a middle class neighborhood until he meets an oddly dressed stranger in the woods near his house. He promises to meet the stranger in the woods the next day in exchange for a wish. (Yeah Colby was gullible and not really smart). The stranger tells Colby that he is a djinn or genie named Yashar. Yashar grants Colby's wish of being able to see the supernatural, even though he feels that it is a very bad wish. After the wish, Yashar convinces Colby to leave his home and go on an adventure (Not real smart, remember) and then Colby and Ewan's stories converge.

Colby meets Ewan and Mallaidh during the "Wild Hunt", at which Knocks "mother" is killed by Ewan's formerly human mother' soul (yeah its complicated). Afterwards, Knocks declares war on Ewan and also Colby for being his friend, with the help of the creepy blood thirsty Red Caps. Red Caps are unsavory, unseelie, and unattractive fairies. Ewan's special purpose is to be sacrificed to the Devil. Colby finds out and decides to save him. He uses another wish, which Yashar warns him about, and becomes a powerful wizard and saves Ewan's life. This messes up the fairies' plans so they decide to sacrifice someone else. The fairy king lets Ewan leave with Colby and Yashar with a warning not to come back. Since Colby is living a very strange adventure with Yashar, they decide a foster home is the best place for Ewan to have a normal life. Colby tells Ewan he will visit and keep in touch, which he manages to do somehow.

Fast forward many years.
Ewan has lead as normal a life as an kid can live in the foster system. He settles in Austin as an adult, being pulled there for some unknown reason. He works in a downtown club as a dishwasher and fill in band member. Colby has traveled the world seeing and doing things best not talked about. Through out the years Colby kept his promise to write and visit even though Ewan does not remember how or when they met originally. Ewan remembers nothing of his life before the foster homes and Colby cannot forget it. Colby manages to keep his communication with the supernatural and Yashar secret and separate from Ewan.

But Mallaidh has spent the years looking for Ewan and finds him the same day that Knocks finds him. She convinces Ewan to love her (being a "love" fairy it wasn't that hard). Once he tells her he loves her all his memories start to come back. Then lots of bad things happen to Ewan, Mallaidh, Knocks, Colby, and all the fairies and assorted creatures.

So as not to give any more spoilers, I will say there is an "epic" battle and lots of creatures are killed or maimed and NO ONE "wins"

The book is written in a way that makes it both simple and complex. The story is well paced and engaging. I wanted to know what was going to happen next on every page. The characters are likable and relate-able even though they are supernatural. There are characters that I liked, Colby and Ewan, and characters that I didn't, Yashar and Malladh. I didn't fall in love with any of the characters but I felt both empathy and apathy towards them.
I didn't give the book 5 stars because the dialogue was boring in a couple of places. Also there were a few scenes that I just didn't like, such as the druggie camper chapter. I did enjoy the pseudo reference manual chapters that were thrown in. I think I would actually read Dr Thaddeus Ray, PhD's book. (spoiler he is one of the characters in the book).

The setting is as much of the story as the characters and I liked the detail the Limestone Kingdom was described in. It wasn't boring or long, but enough for you to picture it.
Having lived my childhood and most of my adulthood is the areas surrounding Austin, it was fun to think of it as supernatural. If you have ever actually been there, Keep Austin Weird ain't just a slogan, people are living it out. I lived in the Driftwood which is in the Hill Country and could be part of the Limestone Kingdom. At dawn and dusk it is easy to imagine that fairies, gnomes, trolls, and other creatures were playing and dancing just out of your sight in the shadows. Sometimes when the wind is just right, you can almost hear a song on the wind. It was fun and exciting to be able to picture the real places that fit the imaginary ones in the book. I wish there was a secret book store somewhere in downtown Austin that only a few people know about. I would find the darn thing.

I really enjoyed this book and have already requested and started my review copy of Queen of The Dark Things. 

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