Dreamwielder by Garrett Calcaterra is the start of a fantasy/steampunk mashup series starring a young girl who can create items from her dreams and a continent in a great deal of turmoil. I’m always on the hunt for new magic systems, so I was delighted to learn about Makarria’s powers right alongside her. Add in a creepy villain and a cast of characters that tried their best despite their faults, and you have an enjoyable and twisty adventure.
Note: This is an expedited review; I was paid to provide an unbiased review to the author and they chose for it to be published. For details, see my review policy.
Dreamwielder by Garrett Calcaterra (The Dreamwielder Chronicles #1)
Published by Diversion Books on Sept. 29th, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, YA
Page Length: 382 pages
How I got my copy: Author
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In a world shrouded by soot and smoke, young Makarria has literally been forbidden to dream.
Legend has foretold the demise of Emperor Thedric Guderian at the hands of a sorceress with royal blood, and the Emperor has made it his legacy to stamp out all magic from the Sargothian Empire in favor of primitive coal fired smelters and steam powered machines. When Guderian’s minions discover a Dreamwielder on a seaside farmstead, a chain of events forces Guderian’s new threat—the young Makarria—to flee from her home and embark upon an epic journey where her path intertwines with that of Princess Taera, her headstrong brother, Prince Caile, and the northman Siegbjorn, who captains a night-flying airship.
Dogging their every step is the part-wolf, part-raven sorcerer, Wulfram, and Emperor Guderian himself, a man who has the ability to stint magic and a vision to create a world where the laws of nature are beholden to men and machines. Only by learning to control the power she wields can Makarria save her newfound companions and stop the Emperor from irreversibly exterminating both the magic in humans and their bond with nature.
- We find out about Makarria’s dream magic right away with a vivid demonstration and I loved discovering more about how everything worked as she came into her own. Beyond that though, there are lots of different kinds of magic in this world, some the typical control of fire, etc., but some quite unique. I can’t wait to find out more about beast magic :D.
- I was struck several times by various characters acting rashly but with the best intentions. I really enjoyed seeing these characters with individual flaws work to overcome those flaws and try to be better versions of themselves. It’s so refreshing to encounter realistic secondary characters in fantasy.
- The villain is creeeeeeeeeeepy! Like, please never make me encounter this guy in a well-lit room at high noon. This of course makes for excellent tension and I couldn’t help flipping the pages to find out what he would do next.
- I wasn’t expecting Dreamwielder to be as gritty as it is. I found out early that things weren’t going to be all sunshine and puppies and good people weren’t going to be magically spared the horrors of tyranny and war. This, combined with several twists at the end, left me stunned and deeply feeling for these characters.
- The writing of Dreamwielder came off as rather clunky due to lots of repeated words that could have been smoothed out. This may be just a pet peeve of mine, but I get distracted when a noun is used multiple times in a sentence even though it is clear it is still the subject. There were a lot of times reading that I wanted to start editing to really make the prose shine.
- While I’m used to running into one or two typos in finished copies, there were a few too many for me to write off in this text. This is a danger with smaller publishers, but it is always disappointing since it distracts the reader so much.
- Throughout this story, I found myself connecting to the secondary characters that had chapters from their perspectives much more than the main character, Makarria. Perhaps she was a bit too young for me to identify with, and instead I identified with the older secondary characters around her. We’ll see if that improves for me as I continue the series!
Dreamwielder is a solid start to what promises to be a unique fantasy series. I love the combination of cool magic and an extra gritty edge that has me wondering if my favorite characters are going to make it out in one piece. The writing slowed me down a bit at times, but I still enjoyed accompanying Makarria on her adventures. Time for book two!
Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
Dreamwielder by Garrett Calcaterra
© 2015, Anya. All rights reserved.