“Dreams, Grimm exhaled, such a burden of the human soul.”
I’m not sure exactly how Dream Thieves came into my life, probably at a used book shop, because it’s a pretty indie book (before indie was even cool!) and I don’t think I’d have picked it up otherwise. Or perhaps I would have. I definitely found the premise, the setting, and the characters interesting enough, but the resulting story was generally underwhelming, especially after a brief introduction from another author that touted the transformative and inspirational merits of Climer’s prose. It was Climer’s prose in particular that I felt did the book a grave disservice.
Living deep in the woods of Germany in the 18th Century, Edward Grimm is a man plagued by the abuse of his past and his inability to dream. His torment is the most potent when dealing with his nephew, Gustav, so innocent and pure, untainted due to the fact that his father loves him nearly and has never hurt him the way Grimm has been hurt, and Gustav unknowingly babbles to him excitedly about his dreams. Dreams that Grimm will never have, unless he does something about it. Turning to the nearby Rom gypsies nearby, Grimm discovers a way that he can capture Gustov’s spirit and his dreams for his own.
The first half of the book starts us off on a very intriguing journey. Edward Grimm is a horrible man on several front, so the story told from the perspective of a character you truly despise is interesting. Even when you start to feel a little bit bad for the guy, he reaffirms that he’s generally a right bastard and he deserves what’s coming to him. There lies the first problem with the book: I never felt the validation I was craving for Grimm’s come-uppance. I never felt that he was truly at any risk with his machinations, despite the fact that I’m pretty sure we were intended to feel that way. The first half of the book was fairly interesting, though, did a wonderful job of setting up the characters and the plot and drawing you in to a very interesting premise.
And here comes the second part of the book, which is so underwhelming I sometimes wonder if they’re both part of the same book. I feel as though the writing (which was fairly simple and, while not terrible, somewhat flawed to begin with) starts to simplify itself more and more with each passing chapter. The writing feels lazy; the writing feels as though the writer just wants to get the book finished. The perspectives start to slip….for a good portion of the book, we are solely in Grimm’s head, but then we start flip-flopping between perspectives in the turn of a single sentence, and I found it jarring and amatuerish. Halfway through the book, I stopped caring. There was nothing particularly new or exciting happening, the characters just kept getting more insipid and irritating, dialogue felt stilted, and the course of events felt forced. Even if the writing hadn’t taken a disappointing turn, the turn of events in the end felt wholly unsatisfying, too, reaching just a conclusion that did very little to tie in a lot of the drama and emotion that had been built up in the first half of the book.
The more I read, the more disenchanted I became, despite the promise that I should have been enthralled by the time I got to the end. Sometimes, when I write things like this, I wonder if I’m being too harsh. I wonder if I could really do any better myself. But the fact of the matter is that I was extremely disappointed. Perhaps it’s the indie spirit in me that really wanted to root for this book, especially since it was touting an ebook version back when it first arrived in 1997, but it really could have been much better than it was and, in the market as it is today, it would have been one of those books that give free ebooks a bad name.
It is Climer’s first book, and he seems to have a lot of people gunning for him, so maybe I’m an odd man out, but I was ultimately not impressed.
Books read: 25/100.