I guess H.P. Lovecraft’s deep interest in magical dreamlands and Egypt has rubbed off on me, since I became a Lovecraft scholar a couple of years ago. Anything to do with dream fantasy worlds and Egyptology now grabs my attention. So the blurb for David Mayer‘s Kindle novel Reswyt (book one of a projected Dreamline series) caught my attention, since the plot blends dreams and Ancient Egyptology.
I found Reswyt to be a crisply written blend of vivid dreamworld fantasy, a contemporary U.S. high school/soccer/romance story (shades of Gregory’s Girl), and correct history. This book is intended for intelligent teenagers, but I found it to be a fascinating read. I suspect that girls will probably like it more than boys, but it could appeal to both — provided that either can get past the intriguing first few chapters and into the action of the fantasy dreamworld. Once the reader is there, the novel really gets underway.
The opening of the novel in Roman Egypt is immediately interesting, and introduces the reader to the central ‘touchstone’ object. There are also other subtle foreshadowings of the novel’s themes. This ancient object then crops up in the hands of the central character, a young contemporary American named Sabine, as a treasured relic of her grandfather the famous Egyptologist. Sabine is intelligent and outgoing, but is dealing with the usual teenage problems and an inflexible school system.
Vivid descriptions carefully evoke each setting/place in turn, and I was pleased to see that the book wasn’t one of those which go overboard and present page after page of solid dialogue. I do like a sensible balance between evocative description and chatter-chatter-chatter dialogue, and this book supplied me with that. The emotions ring true, too — and don’t stray into the usual YA angst and gloom. Sabine is an active heroine, not a passive wrist-slasher.
Long-time jaded fantasy readers might be wary of the idea of undertaking another “talking animals” novel, especially when they hear that there’s a bear in the book named Brummbar — but this aspect is very well done. Once you encounter the idea that wolves speak German, it seems totally natural that they should.
Perhaps my only complaint is that the book’s cover may lack appeal to young adults. The standard for cover illustrations is being set very high by fantasy publishers these days, and this imaginative book will need to complete for attention with all that slick formula-fantasy output. Surely there are some Poser users and other 3D fantasy artists, who would be glad to illustrate such a cover in return for a small fee? For instance, just look at the fabulous Egyptian Poser renderings of Fredy3D. The typeface used for the title could also do more to suggest “fantasy”…
Talking of illustrations, I could see this book become a comic-book -style graphic novel quite easily. That, and perhaps even an audio book version, might widen its young adult readership even more. There are, however, nicely presented video trailers for the book, which parents might show to their young readers to grab some attention for Reswyt…
Above: HD video trailers for the book.
Overall, this book is an entertaining and intelligent read with a plot that grips. It’s great to see the Kindle taking terrific novels like this away from mainstream publishers, and giving them the audience they deserve.