Livia, a girl from the poor tunnels beneath the Barstadt Empire, is hired to work as a government spy because of her valuable ability to possess people through their dreams.
To dreamstride, readers learn as the suspenseful first chapter unfolds, Livia moves through the shared dream world of Oneiros and lets her soul inhabit another sleeper's body. Once inside, Livia moves her borrowed body through the waking world, gleaning information from the sleeper's consciousness and from whatever actions she takes while posing as the sleeper. This form of espionage puts Livia and her fellow elite operatives in considerable peril, both in the waking world and the dream world. Livia performs missions with the memory of having let her friends down in an incident whose details are revealed slowly, and her ashamed certainty that she is unworthy of her position is deeply sympathetic. The central mission here involves three different cultures, and the ways of Barstadt in particular, where dreams are woven into religion, politics, and intimate conversation, are lushly imagined. The imagery of dreams and nightmares is unusual and vivid, and a web of romances and arranged marriages among the spies adds emotion and intensity.
Tense action and rich worldbuilding make for thrilling reading. (Fantasy. 14-18)