C. Robert Cargill

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Dreams & Shadows – C. Robert Cargill

Published December 8, 2014 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

It begins with a love story. A love that is almost too sweet, too perfect. From that love comes a child. Love is wonderful.
Until someone unspeakably vile scuttles out of the shadows and steals the child away. Leaving a changeling in its place.
But this is no ordinary fairy tale…
C. Robert Cargill has written a modern American tale. A tale that twines the real world with the supernatural. A tale of faerie changed. Faerie that has danced alongside our world.
It is a realm that we visit with two boys. It is a dark, dark place to grow up.

What did I think?:

I had never heard of this book until I visited the wonderful Mr B’s Emporium in Bath and it was one of the recommendations as part of my Reading Spa. As soon as I saw the cover I was instantly excited, ever more so when I read the synopsis of the novel. There are many weird and wonderful fairy-tale and magical characters but beware, this is definitely not a story for younger readers. The book maps the journey of two young boys, Ewan and Colby from their childhood where the magic first begins to an incredibly messed up adulthood, where the magic just won’t stay away.

The book begins “once upon a time,” as all good fairy tales should, however, I’ve already mentioned that this story is a bit different compared to your average fairy story and the author proceeds  to shatter a family’s life by replacing baby Ewan, (who makes his parents deliriously happy by the way) with a Changeling – the work of some very naughty fairies. The eight year old Colby in contrast, first comes across this strange world on one of his jaunts into the woods when his mother is having (ahem!) “visitors.” He is given strict orders not to come back before a certain time and in general, is largely ignored and emotionally abused. Meeting a djinn (genie) called Yashar seems like the perfect opportunity to turn his life around for the better, especially as Yashar is obliged to give him three wishes. One of his wishes is to be able to see everything supernatural in the faerie kingdom and beyond, one wish that he may live to regret.

On entering the kingdom, Colby meets Ewan who has been raised by the fairies after being snatched from his family. The two children, along with a faerie called Mallaidh soon become fast friends and enjoy many happy hours playing within the kingdom. All this jollity cannot last long in a tale as dark as this, and Ewan soon relies on Colby to save his life, returning him to the world of man. In the second half of the book, we meet Colby in adulthood, who has become disenchanted and world-weary. He is struggling to make a career as a musician without much luck and is tired of the supernatural world that he encounters on a daily basis. It soon becomes clear that what happened between Ewan and Colby in childhood has affected the faerie kingdom permanently. War looms, violence is plotted and Colby is soon in grave danger of losing his life. This is where some of the more dark and twisted elements of the story come into play. First of all, we have Knocks the changeling who was the substitution for Ewan when the faeries came to take him away. Believe me, Knocks is not impressed with being removed from the faeries and makes it his mission to destroy Ewan in whatever way possible. You think faeries are lovely? Think again. These faeries are ruthless, tricky, blood-thirsty, always with a hidden agenda. If Ewan is going to fight against the faerie kingdom, he has to use all his strength and cunning (and maybe a few supernatural friends of his own) otherwise things could go very badly, very quickly.

I really loved this book and found myself caught up in the author’s obviously vivid and superb imagination in creating this dark fairy tale world. The monsters and beastly creatures are amazing but my favourite character was probably Yashar the genie as we got to hear a lot of his back story making it almost like a fairy tale within a fairy tale if that makes any sense! Some of the scenes in the book wouldn’t be out of place on the big screen, and as there is quite a lot of violence and gore, I probably wouldn’t recommend it to those of us who have a weak stomach. I’m very excited also to learn that this book will be part of a series and on the strength of this book, I’ve already got the paperback pre-ordered and ready to go. A big thank you has to go to Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath for recommending me this fabulous read.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

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A Visit to Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights with Chrissi

Published September 4, 2014 by bibliobeth

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Photo’s of Mr B’s from the website, click on the image to get there!

Ah, you can’t beat a good bookshop. And without a doubt, Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights in the centre of Bath, UK is one of the best bookshops I have ever been to. And I’m a bookshop fiend. I was over the moon when my sister found out about the bookshop and took me there as a treat for a “Reading Spa.” More about that later…

Mr B’s Emporium is an independent book shop set over three floors which was founded by Nic and Juliette Bottomley who left their jobs as lawyers to open the bookshop in 2006 (Thanks, guys!). The shop has done so well since it opened that it has twice won independent bookshop of the year in 2008 and 2011 where judges admired their “palpable passion” for books and their “compelling blend of traditional and modern bookselling methods.”

On entering the shop, I wasn’t quite sure where to start! There is so much to admire, look at, and touch for bibliophiles like ourselves that we felt quite overwhelmed. In a happy way, of course! The range of books is incredible and there always seems to be something different around every corner. For example, comic strips across walls, comfy chairs to sit on, free tea and coffee for customers and a fantastic concept where you can rent your own private reading booth, complete with headphones, biscuits and tea/coffee to shut out the world and just get reading! Not only this, but Mr B’s provides reading events with top authors such as Jeff Vandermeer, Sarah Waters and David Mitchell, book groups and ultimate gifts for book lovers like the Reading Spa or Mr B’s Reading Year. The latter involves eleven books being sent out a year (in paperback or hardback) based on a consultation with a biblio-therapist for your reading needs.

Reading Spa Room

Mr B’s Bibliotherapy Room courtesy of website, please click the image for more information on the Reading Spa

So, after being matched with a biblio-therapist (the lovely Emma) whose favourite books include The Time Traveller’s Wife and Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, Chrissi and I were taken to the beautiful Bibliotherapy Room where we had a cup of tea and a chat to Emma so she could get an idea of what to bring us. These were very basic questions such as: What are you reading at the moment? What was the last book you loved? Who are your favourite authors? Is there any genre you really dislike? (ME: “Chick-lit!” CHRISSI: “Really scary horror!”). Emma scribbled some notes, went away and came back with a towering mountain of books which she told us about one by one. I was really impressed with her bookish knowledge and it was so informal, it was like chatting to a friend. I was also really pleased about her choices, as they weren’t necessarily books that I would have been drawn to, but she sold them so well by the end we wanted the whole pile.

Emma left us in the comfy chairs with more tea and we discussed which of the beauties we just had to take away with us and which ones had to stay behind. It was a tough choice, but in the end we had it cut down to thirteen, and here they are!

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The Ocean At The End Of The Lane – Neil Gaiman

Dreams & Shadows – C. Robert Cargill

The Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie – Alan Bradley

I Am The Messenger – Markus Zusak

Annihilation – Jeff VanderMeer

The Name Of The Wind – Patrick Rothfuss

The Moth – Catherine Burns

Tamar: A Novel of Espionage, Passion and Betrayal – Mal Peet

Born Weird – Andrew Kaufman

City of Thieves – David Benioff

The Last Banquet – Jonathan Grimwood

1222 – Anne Holt

The Panda Theory – Pascal Garnier

Quite a nice haul, don’t you think? Please click on each link to get to the book description at GoodReads. Armed with a free bookmark and Mr B’s mug to go along with our pile of books, we headed off, DEFINITELY to return again.

Huge thanks to Emma and all the staff at Mr B’s for making our day such a wonderful experience.