Wayne Thomas Batson, author of several middle grade fantasy series, pens a new series where he examines the world of dreams, asking “what would happen if your ‘dream come true’ turns out to be your worst nightmare”? (author’s website)
In Dreamtreaders, we meet fourteen year old Archer Keaton, one of three chosen dreamtreaders. By day, he is an ordinary teen, living with his dad and younger sister. By night, he is a dreamtreader, taking on the responsibility to roam throughout the dream world fighting evil forces. He is bound by rules in the dream world (like the Nightmare Lord rules the sixth hour and the dreamtreader needs to return to the temporal world before their personal midnight).
Led by the Nightmare Lord, the evil forces turn dreams into nightmares, trying to make the dream world the new reality. They create tears in the dream wall between the two worlds. When the other two dreamtreaders go missing, it is up to Archer to defend the dream world with the help of some unlikely allies, who temporarily join him with their own agenda, one that puts them on opposite sides at different times.
Batson is a well-established author of fantasy books aimed at middle school readers. His books appeal to boys and girls alike. Dreamtreaders is the first book in a trilogy and sets the stage for the subsequent books (The Search for the Shadow Key is the second book). Batson excels in his worldbuilding and character development – wait until you meet Rigby’s interesting animal menagerie!
Archer is a likeable, flawed hero. In the first chapter, he is in the throes of a nightmare, introducing the reader quickly to the Nightmare Lord and Master Gabriel, the first is the Servant of the Evil One, the second is Archer’s mentor. Although the story started out slowly, it grabbed my attention as the conflict unfolded between Archer and Rigby.
One distraction was the font used for the Dreamtreader’s Creed. While I liked the Creed in a different font, the one selected was sometimes hard to read. Still it was a good way to fit in the backstory of why dreamtreaders exist and their code.
Recommended for school and public libraries, especially for middle school collections. Fans of Batson’s earlier works will not be disappointed in this new series.
Carol R. Gehringer
In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.