Dreamwalker by CS Friedman (DAW, Feb. 2014/Reviewed by Peter)-Jessica Drake has always had vivid dreams, dreams of doors in a void, dreams of fractal patterns, dreams that always felt real to her. Her brother, Tommy, would use her dreams as background to his online epic fantasy adventures. Things might have continued along this path indefinitely, a confusing, rather mundane existence for a teenage girl except for her father, divorced from her mother years ago, who believes that Jessica isn’t his child. Knowing full well that it’s his child, Jessica’s mother agrees to a paternity test and it is discovered that not only is Jessica not her father’s child, she is also not her mother’s child even though the footprints taken at birth match Jessica’s. Oh and then there’s a strange woman who suddenly wants to buy Jessica’s artwork and is seen spying on her house.
C.S. Friedman’s latest novel DreamWalker follows the adventures of Jessica Drake as she tries to understand why her parents aren’t who she thought. Her pursuit takes her to the internet where she finds others in the same situation calling themselves changelings. Things literally heat up when her house is set on fire and her brother is kidnapped from the blazing home by what appear to be aliens, and they seem to be a result of the dreams she shared with her brother, and his online adventures. Jessica teams with some of her new-found friends and their investigations lead them literally out of this world and into a multiverse of other Earths.
Let me state right now that C.S. Friedman almost lost me here. I am not a fan of infinite Earths storylines. I find them to be a simple device used to make it easy for the author to do whatever they wanted. I continued reading mostly because I have enjoyed C.S. Friedman’s work in the past. Her past series have always held my interest and have always left me thoroughly satisfied. I put my prejudices aside and continued onward. That said, I should have known better than to doubt her.
C.S. Friedman takes the mirrored Earths / infinite Earths concept and makes it uniquely hers. The worlds she creates aren’t the same “this is almost the same except ”. No these worlds are all Earths that have started at the same point and have taken radically different paths early on. For example, there’s an Earth where the extinction event for dinosaurs has never taken place. She has managed to create a series starter that is both layered and rich, and accessible to the young adult crowd and her longtime fans. I look forward to the next installment of this series.