The Lord of Dreams, by C.J. Brightley

jksteach's review

Go to review page


In The Lord of Dreams, Claire is drawn into Faerie by her wish and their need. She wants to be a hero and The Lord of Dreams gives her the opportunity. Through much of the book he is trapped or partly mad, so I thought it was a bit difficult to get to know him. I would have liked more scenes of the two of them while he was lucid. I also thought the Silvertongue character was intriguing and I would love to see more of him - maybe in a sequel? The book was interesting in that scenes shifted both in time and between realities - in both Faerie and the human world and a dream world. This was a quick, page turning read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

justasking27's review

Go to review page


3.5 stars. I liked a lot of this book, but felt that the interactions between the two main characters and Claire's revelations were a bit heavy-handed at times, when the same thing was said multiple times before anyone heard it. I did like the idea of becoming who you really are described as breaking away parts of your personality that aren't really you.

barbarahowe's review

Go to review page


Be careful what you wish for, as you will surely get it.

Claire Delaney, normal American teenager, wishes she could be a hero. She is immediately snatched out of her bedroom by a delightfully dangerous figure, transported into the world of the fae, and sent on a mission to rescue an imprisoned fairy. In the next few chapters of The Lord of Dreams, we follow the disoriented Claire as she wanders randomly through a kaleidoscopic and strangely barren dreamscape. Nothing makes much sense; the fae king who sends her into this world calls himself her villain and the other few characters she interacts with seem determined to insult her and avoid telling her anything useful. She does eventually find and rescue the fairy, without understanding who he is or why he was imprisoned.

I struggled with that bit, the first 20% or so of the book. I didn’t like not understanding what was going on, and it annoyed me that Claire never stopped to ask herself why she should obey the fae king’s order if he was the villain. She seemed passive, letting herself be pushed around and not thinking things through. I was about to toss the book on the Did Not Finish pile, when things changed. For a few chapters the story bounces back and forth between strange dreams and normal life. Claire grows up and is in grad school when the fae come to her again, asking for her help. They are at war, their king—the nightmare figure from her dreams—has been captured, and he had predicted that she would be the one to rescue him.

From then on, the story’s focus is more clear, and I devoured the rest of the book in one Sunday afternoon and evening. It’s a nice combination of heroic quest, self-discovery, and gentle romance set in the world of the Seelie and Unseelie from the folklore of the British Isles.

Claire improves, acting with more agency, learning to ask the right questions, and overcoming her initial prejudice against the fae king. By a third of the way through, I had also learned to roll with unanswered questions. I did eventually get answers, but some of them were a long time coming. That was OK, as the gist of the story was about Claire making sense of this strange world she’s been thrown into, and understanding the full import of the breathtaking gamble the king has made. If we’re not a bit disoriented, too, how can we appreciate the mental leaps she has to make?
The story was not entirely successful. In particular, Claire’s relationship with her family was unsatisfying. I wish that plot thread had either been given more attention or dropped. Concern over the deprivations she was suffering from being unable to eat or drink anything in the world of the fae kept pulling me out of the story, too. In Chapter 4 she’s about to collapse from dehydration, but then trudges on for hours (days?) more. (Magical sustenance? Yeah, sure.)

Despite those quibbles, it was a satisfying adventure. Perhaps I liked it as much as I did because I kept seeing parallels with my own novel, The Locksmith: Something valuable is hidden so well its existence is forgotten. A magical entity may or may not be sentient. Magic is shaped by imagination and willpower. Powerful wishes take on a life of their own. Men in peril are rescued by women.

And finally, I learned that if I’m ever pulled into the world of the fae, I should bring along a butter knife…

Audience: Teens and up. Some pain and violence (there is, after all, a war on) but no sex or bad language.

This review was first published on This Need to Read

hlburke's review

Go to review page


I really enjoyed the style of this. The way it takes the shifting nature of a dreamscape and just runs with it is probably the strongest element of this book. I can see if you aren't the sort of person who has vivid dreams or if you don't remember your dreams, that could come across as a little confusing, but as is, it comes across as weirdly realistic considering the material/setting.
The story has a nice mix of magic and mystery and involves a lot of different faerie creatures. There's some very creative magic and ways that the magic has to be used or thwarted, which kept me entertained, and I liked the two main characters (the King who is not really all there for most of the book and the MC, Claire, who is dealing with him and understandably frustrated.).
A few small quibbles I had didn't really take away from the book, but they befuddled me enough to be mentioned: towards the end of the book there is a lot of talk about how far the main character has come and how selfish she used to be ... I never really got that she was all that bad. Yes, she did grow, but the person she was at the beginning of the book seemed to be reacting like most normal humans would be in her situation. Every time someone talked about how "selfish" she used to be, I didn't quite get it. Maybe because I'm a little more tolerant of human frailty than the average reader? I mean, if a book gives me a whiny, selfish, unlikable protagonist, I will totally stop reading, so I don't think I'm that accepting of it, but yeah, to me Claire was never really that bad of person.
For instance, at the beginning she's a sixteen-year-old girl who comes home to an empty house on her birthday and finds her parents have not only left her alone for a business dinner on her birthday (which is uncool) and they also only left her with frozen meatloaf to microwave (which she dislikes. I mean, come on, if you really can't be there for a kid on her birthday, at least leave her twenty bucks to order pizza and maybe a cupcake?), but towards the end we're supposed to feel that Claire has grown away from her selfishness to learn to appreciate her family more, not the other way around?
Which leads to my second quibble: this would've been a better book if the family didn't exist. It's a minor quibble because they are barely in the story at all, but it is very rare that I get through a book and think, "This would've been more interesting if the MC were an orphan," and this one did that. The family isn't given enough time on the page for us to be interested in them (which I liked because I wanted to focus on Claire, the King, and cool fairy magic), but because they exist we get an extra layer of denouement where the character has to deal with the fact that they do exist before we can get to the real ending. Though in the end, that was only like a chapter.