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Dreamworld by shadowcat


Ember loves to dream, but her daydreams aren’t always the most welcoming to her. As she battles monsters in her dreams, she also deals with the struggles of living in a world that refuses to accept her sexuality and condemns her brother for being who he is. To escape, she flees to her daydreams, where she can do whatever she wants without judgment. However, when one dream starts to go off the rails, she finds herself tangled in a chain of events that drag her into her dream world more than she anticipated.

Ace/aro MC

Note: Dreamworld contains some graphic violence and harsh language.

A serialized novel, updating fortnightly

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Listed: Jan 9, 2019


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Slice-of-life that turns serious

By 20150506, author of Paladin

Jan 13, 2019: Shadowcat’s Dreamworld features Ember, a girl who leads an interesting life both awake and asleep. By day she does tourist things with her globetrotting family. By night she explores a recurring dream where she’s in a kind of Alice-in-Wonderland prison. This being an urban fantasy, one suspects that it’s more than just a dream.

There’s a fair number of things to like about Shadowcat’s work. There’s Ember’s narrative voice, which is funny without being forced. There’s the pleasant sibling dynamic between Ember and her brother Aiden, who’s in the middle of transitioning. Aiden acts as her sidekick in the real world and I’m hoping it’ll continue like this when the dream world spills over.

And then there’s the slice-of-life pacing and tone, which I find relaxing. Ember is a nice person and is mostly surrounded by nice people. In her waking life she goes on lighthearted adventures in the style of a Nickelodeon show. When her phone is stolen, for example, it turns out to be a mostly-harmless kid’s gang rather than something more sinister.

The author tends to overdescribe things, however. At one point they show Ember tasting a bit of cake; looking for plates and silverware; finding them on a nearby table; grabbing a plate, fork,and knife; and finally cutting a big piece of cake. This is a long sequence for something that isn’t noteworthy. Three of those steps could’ve been just "she grabbed a plate and silverware from a nearby table". Also, much of the story happens in the main character’s head. You expect this from a first-person account but Shadowcat may want to write her first drafts in third-person objective to cut down on some commentary.

Rough patches aside, Dreamworld is a promising story and I look forward to the moment when Ember’s dreams begin to take over her life. The series is already a treat for fans of young-adult urban fantasy. The stage is set for a major shift in tone and when that happens it’ll be a treat for fans of the Cerebus Syndrome as well.

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