In McEntee’s debut fantasy tale, 12-year-old Dylan Hartfield splits his time between reality and a dream dimension.
In his dreams, Dylan finds a world populated by 49 Creatures of the Night. Much to his surprise, he learns he has the power to turn the creatures’ evil doppelgangers—the Creatures of the Day—to dust. Yet, as Dylan and his trusty talking pooch discover, these recurring dreams aren’t a result of his overactive imagination but a portal to a second reality. He then meets his magical birth parents and his formerly good—but currently evil—twin sister, Gordania. The two siblings can’t coexist, so an ultimate battle is set to take place at the Gates of Hell. Despite the opening in the YA market for young protagonists with an unexpectedly magical aptitude, this book doesn’t stand with its accomplished predecessors. The exposition weighs down the entire story, and the preponderance of explanations and backstories jerks the action from scene to scene with few connections. Instead of letting readers make discoveries, the narrative makes them for the readers, which hampers a connection to the flat characters. Unlike, say, Harry Potter, Dylan doesn’t take an active role in his own life; he essentially lets his life happen in a maddeningly passive way. Readers are told that he has a host of unexplained powers at his disposal, but he doesn’t know what they are or how to use them. Even the “incomprehensible spells” Dylan hurls at Gordania in the ultimate battle fly out of his mouth without his knowledge or effort.
A notable attempt to create a fully realized dream world, but the story doesn’t support the imagination.