Dreams from the Past by J.R. Albrecht

Dreams from the Past

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Dreams, time travel, the Civil War, criminal intrigue and more collide in Albrecht’s debut, genre-spanning adventure.

Trained as an architect but now making a living as a historical researcher, Jack Brandigan is enamored with history. Plagued by unusual dreams he can neither interpret nor trace, he feels out of step with the world, his love of flying his only connection to modern times. His closest friend is Chad Lewis, a physicist studying superconductivity whose latest experimental creation has demonstrated an unexpected side effect: time travel. As Brandigan is drawn into a series of escapades that center on his friend’s device, he discovers a new purpose, new dangers and, through his explorations of the device’s capabilities, new love. Albrecht, who’s also an architect and licensed pilot, brings his considerable experience and enthusiasm for history to bear in the verisimilitude and detail of the settings, particularly in the Civil War episodes, which have a texture the modern sections lack. This greater focus on the past keeps with Brandigan’s nature, but it also has the effect of rendering the modern sections flavorless by comparison. Albrecht’s sturdily constructed prose smoothly leads readers from point to point; it’s never flashy, but it gets the job done. Similarly, the plot threads, while numerous, lock into place over the course of the narrative, despite the prodigious number of characters—some of whom, like most of the Jacobs family, appear once and vanish. However, despite the structural facility Albrecht displays, the subplots end up vying for attention, making it difficult to assess which part of the narrative is most important: Is it the centuries-spanning romance? The thriller aspect, with Chad and his lab assistant on the run from would-be thieves, battling back with surprising violence? Or is it the simple story of a man traveling through time to capture invaluable historical photographs? As confidently handled as the threads may be, the abundance of plot obscures the real story, making the adventure less enjoyable than it could be.

An excess of plot threads and unclear narrative priorities hamper Albrecht’s otherwise well-structured, engaging novel.

Pub Date: Jan. 31st, 2013
ISBN: 978-1477532102
Page count: 738pp
Publisher: CreateSpace
Program: Kirkus Indie
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