Title: Back to the Dream (Dreamlands: Book Two)
Author: Felicitas Ivey
Publisher: DSP Publications
Pages/Word Count: 314 Pages
At a Glance: Slower pacing than the first novel, with frequent character changes, but still a good story.
Reviewed By: Jennifer
Blurb: Although Inuzaka Keno has found freedom and love in the Dreamlands with oni Samojirou Aboshi, the war is still raging between The Trust’s battle-hardened recruits and the demons of his new home. While cloaked in shadows and magic, powerful people are using Keno, Aboshi, and their Lord Tamazusa as pawns in a deadly plan to rule both worlds.
They’re not alone: soldiers Mason, Wolf, and McGann—Keno’s friends from The Trust—also find themselves embroiled in the battle spreading through the Dreamlands, involving its other lands and cultures. If they’re to have any chance to survive, Aboshi will have to leave his love to protect him, and Keno will have to find the power within himself to live on without his heart.
Review: I absolutely adored the first book in this series, Dreamlands, when I read it, and I had high hopes for the sequel. I wanted to know more about Keno and Samojirou, as well as the humans Mason and Wolf. I got more of that in this book, but the pacing was slow in the first quarter of the book, and in many parts the story dragged on, and I had to stop. After that first quarter, however, things definitely picked up, and I couldn’t read fast enough. Once again, Ivey has blended urban fantasy with a more traditional fantasy/mythology. New cultures are introduced and explored, which adds new elements to the novel not seen in the first.
Keno is growing as a character. In the first book, while he slowly falls for Samojirou, he is afraid of anything sexual with him because of his abuse on Earth. Understandable. In this book, however, he has gotten past that, and it seems that every time they are on the page together, Keno is exploring his newfound confidence. Readers will also see him grow once he travels with Tamazusa and is reunited with Mason, Wolf, and the others.
The intrigue of the Game in the Dreamlands is developing more. There are new characters, and the tension rises as Tamazusa plays the Game, putting herself in possible danger. Samojirou doesn’t like this, but it enables Keno to take on a new role. Of course, this new role is yet again as a woman, like his alter-ego Sakura. For being the avatar of a vicious warrior, he certainly dresses as a woman more frequently than not. But I guess that could be explained due to the interesting history of his ancestor and how he’s missing from the Dreamlands. It’s almost like two extremes of one person. However, he does shed this role once they reach the Northlands.
Mason is just as crass and protective of McGann as in the last book, and his relationship is growing with Tamazusa, which is fascinating, given her history and distrust of all men except Samojirou, Keno, and her samurai. And then there’s the other new, complex characters from the Trust as well as the Dreamlands, particularly the newly introduced Northlands.
For new readers, it is sometimes tricky because so many characters tell their story from first person perspective. Sometimes the events overlap, other times they skip ahead a bit. Others happen simultaneously in different areas of the Dreamlands. But each character brings something unique to the story.
If you are new and want to check this out, you absolutely must read the first book. While Ivey does a good job of covering the basics, there is just too much that would be missed. Characters that are not present in this novel are discussed, and they are crucial to the development of some events in this book. Plus, the first book is just so awesome, why would you want to skip it anyway?
I look forward to reading book three and finding out more about the Dreamlands and what the Trust is going to try next.
You can buy Back to the Dream here: