A young boy discovers a dream world that exists between the cracks of reality in his home in this omnibus of the first five books of Batt’s Tales of Dreamside series.
Keaghan is a seemingly ordinary kid who one day accidentally slips into a magical reality called the Dreamside, which is full of lost things both from Keagan’s real life and his dreams. It’s inhabited by small, twiglike creatures—the Caretakers and the Knitters. As Topit, the main Caretaker who befriends him, explains, all homes have a Dreamside. As a Caretaker, his main responsibility is to ensure that everything runs smoothly, while the Knitters mend the holes in reality that are torn whenever someone dreams. In the first novel, Keaghan becomes acquainted with this strange world and eventually finds his way home. The second through fifth follow a longer arc; all Dreamsides are under attack by malevolent creatures known as the Tomsi, who seem to have been set off by Keaghan refusing to give them his lost tooth, causing him to take up a quest to save the land and friends he’d grown to love. This is a phenomenally imaginative series, with a strong, relatable child protagonist, collected in this handsome, beautifully illustrated edition. It can also be appealingly dark, with eerie fairy-tale motifs such as the clever concept that the Tomsi once required a tithe of children’s bones, until they agreed to take teeth instead, thus explaining the origins of the Tooth Fairy myth. If it has any major faults, it’s that these richer, wickedly funny elements don’t always rest fully easily with the books’ otherwise lighthearted tone and sometimes simplistic morals. The former seem more suited to slightly older children raised on Roald Dahl novels, while the boy’s epiphany at the end of the first novel that “A home is a dream of love made real” feels targeted to a much younger crowd.
Some tonal inconsistency, but overall, an original, entertaining YA fantasy.