Author: Lindsay Smith
Publication: Roaring Brook Press (October 6, 2015)
Description: A high-concept, fantastical espionage novel set in a world where dreams are the ultimate form of political intelligence.
Livia is a dreamstrider. She can inhabit a subject's body while they are sleeping and, for a short time, move around in their skin. She uses her talent to work as a spy for the Barstadt Empire. But her partner, Brandt, has lately become distant, and when Marez comes to join their team from a neighboring kingdom, he offers Livia the option of a life she had never dared to imagine. Livia knows of no other dreamstriders who have survived the pull of Nightmare. So only she understands the stakes when a plot against the Empire emerges that threatens to consume both the dreaming world and the waking one with misery and rage.
My Thoughts: DREAMSTRIDER was an entertaining fantasy novel about a young woman who can walk in the land of dreams and who can inhabit the bodies of other dreamers. Livia was a tunneler—a slave living in the underworld of the Barstadt Empire. She was rented out to clean at the University where she met Professor Hesse who taught her to walk in dreams. Once she could, she was employed by the Ministry to act as a spy and promised her citizenship papers at some unspecified future time if she did her work well.
Livia is partnered with Brandt who is a young aristocrat who is working as a spy until his family calls him back home to marry and fulfill his responsibilities to his class. Livia loves him but knows that she has no future with him despite her most heartfelt dreams. Livia is the only dreamstrider that she knows about and, when she sees that Nightmare is awakening in the dreaming world, she is concerned. Adding to that problem is the real world problem that a neighboring kingdom has plans to conquer Barstadt.
A team from Farthing Confederacy has come to Barstadt to share information in the hopes of derailing the upcoming war. Livia is assigned to show them around. She is flattered by Marez who offers her a future different from the one she sees for herself in Barstadt. She looks forward to traveling away from Barstadt once Brandt marries. But there are more things going on than just stopping the threat of the invasion.
This story was entertaining. I thought the world building was excellent. I enjoyed Livia as a main character who overcame her insecurities when she had to to save her country and her love. Fantasy fans will enjoy this exciting story.
The Commandant readies his army while Barstadt and Farthing join forces against him. The tunnelers struggle for emancipation. An aristocrat speakes of raising Nightmare from the dead. Professor Hesse warns of the grave cost of dreamstriding—one I'm not certain I can bear, now that I know of the deaths. And I, the sole dreamstrider, the Ministry's dismal disappointment, pining for a boy I can never have and freedom I can never earn.I got this ARC from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.