Disclaimer: I received this ARC (Advance Reading Copy) in Kindle format via Net Galley. The book itself won’t be published until January 31st, 2015. It’s the second book in the Dream Chronicle Series.
Dream Shaper tells the story of a female warrior, Hyndla Shenvirl. Hyndla was found as a baby by the side of a lake, and was raised by kind villagers. They remain kind even when it becomes clear from Hyndla’s height that she isn’t of their tribe. There is war in the valley, and a grown-up Hyndla acts as a warrior and advisor for the the Tiria, who oversees many of the various peoples in the valley. I could go on, but frankly this part of the story was somewhat confusing. I’m not sure if that’s because I missed reading the first book of the series (Dream Singer) and the author didn’t put enough breadcrumbs to the first book to help new readers stay in the loop, or if it was simply written somewhat confusedly.
Regardless, Hyndla soon finds herself on a quest to find an antidote to a poison that could kill the Tiria and all her people. She hopes to find her own origins as well, if possible. Along with her come a strange man (Runolf Tocho) who shows up abruptly at the beginning of the book, and a small(ish) person (Armic Ril) whose people live under the ground in caves. There are surprises on the journey with a very large surprise at the end, which I won’t spoil.
To be brutally honest, this book reminded me of the first few books of the Cheysuli series by Jennifer Roberson. The first few books in that series were not written very well. The story was good; the characters were good; but the level of writing to get the story and people across was lacking. It improved amazingly as Jennifer Roberson continued to write, and that’s what I feel will happen with J.A. Ferguson’s Dream Chronicles. She’s got the bones of a decent romance/fantasy happening here, and I look forward to seeing how things will improve as she hones her skills.