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The Book of Dreams

by O.R. Melling

The fourth book of the Chronicles of Faerie, written by the Irish-Canadian author O.R. Melling, far surpasses the earlier books in its length and the breadth of its scope. Set in Canada, this novel focuses on 13-year-old Dana, the protagonist from the third book, who is depressed because she misses Ireland and hasn’t made any friends in Toronto. She frequently escapes into the world of Faerie – that is, until evil forces shut down the portals between the two worlds. When Dana learns that it is up to her to restore the connection by finding the Book of Dreams, she springs into action, embarking on a quest that takes her all over the country. She is joined by several other characters, some from the earlier books and some new.

The narrative includes a vast array of cultural references, from First Nations, Celtic, French-Canadian, Chinese, Hindu, and European sources. But sampling cultural traditions this lightly, as if they’re dipping sauces, seems unsatisfying. The novel’s central theme is a call for pan-cultural peace and understanding, but that didn’t banish my craving for a narrower focus, a more compact narrative.

However, while the narrative is loose, it’s not sloppy. The details are well researched, quotes and cultural references are attributed where possible, and even the travel routes are laid out in neatly designed maps at the front. Ultimately, the real strength of the book lies in its psychological dimension, in the way it reminds young readers, quite imaginatively, of the depth of their inner resources and the multitude of possibilities in writing their own Books of Dreams.