The Dream Thief: Did Not Finish

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fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsbook review Shana Abe The Dream Thief The Dream Thief by Shana Abe

The Dream Thief stars Amalia Langford, the daughter of Kit and Rue from The Smoke Thief, and Zane, a thief who was introduced in the previous book. Zane is charged with retrieving a special diamond called Draumr. At the behest of Kit and Rue, he agrees to travel across Europe, into the Carpathians, in search of it. Accompanying him is Lia, who is possessed of the ability to hear the future. In her dreams she hears a future in which Zane, using the power of Draumr, holds her as his slave, slaughters her entire tribe, and uses her knowledge of precious gems to steal. So she decides to um…help him retrieve the diamond. Oookay…

This only so-so plot is not helped by the characters. As much as I enjoyed Rue in The Smoke Thief, I can’t stand Lia. She’s just not very interesting. The plain Jane outcast who doesn’t have all the family’s special powers…who grows to be stunningly beautiful, with the same powers her family possesses and then some. Boring. Worse, I find her stupid. She knows these things about Zane, and still she follows him around like a lovesick puppy. I never quite understand why she feels the need to help him obtain something that she sees giving him the power to slaughter her family. If she’s plotting something deeper, well, it never communicated well to me as the reader.

It should come as no surprise, then, that she has no chemistry whatsoever with her counterpart Zane. Zane is arrogant and rude. He has no interest in Lia or her company, until out of the blue he decides that he wants her. I suppose Abe was going for the aloof thief whose heart is won against all odds by Lia, but I’m simply not buying it. It doesn’t work at all. And Zane, with his controlling attitude, doesn’t improve at all as a character. His charm is low to begin with, and takes a huge plummet when he rapes Lia. Now, I don’t care how you try to look at it…she was asleep, she didn’t wake up, she only vaguely remembers it happening the next day…it was rape. The Smoke Thief walked a pretty thin line between consent and non-consent, but it did so in a way that worked for its characters, and that never fully crossed over. This most certainly did not work, period. Saying oh, but the character enjoyed it and wanted it to happen, after it’s over and done with, doesn’t change this.

And because I’m simply not scratching my head enough already, Shana Abe adds to the WTFery by having Zane announce, after he has just finished raping Lia, that he wants to marry her. He can barely tolerate her presence, he insults her by calling her names (including a monster), and now suddenly he wants to marry her!?

A romance is very dependent upon its characters and how their interaction plays out. It’s safe to say that for me, the characters didn’t work at all. The paper thin plot couldn’t even begin to make up for this. Even Abe’s writing isn’t as good as it was; that airy, evocative quality that swept me through the first one wasn’t present. So the question remains, which was the fluke?

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BETH JOHNSON, one of our guest reviewers, discovered fantasy books at age nine, when a love of horses spurred her to pick up Bruce Coville’s Into the Land of the Unicorns. Beth lives in Sweden with her husband. She writes short stories and has been working on a novel.

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