Ever have a spate of nightmares and think that maybe, just maybe, there’s an alternate universe of people who are messing with your dreams and making you have nightmares? Me, too! Weird, right?
Enter Zac. He lives with his Granny, because Mom and Dad are naturally out of the picture. How else would a fantasy book start? Zac’s been having nightmares and Granny’s been acting a little weird. One night, Zac follows Granny out into the yard in the middle of a freezing night in the dead of winter, and Granny dives right into the icy pond. Zac is compelled to follow her, and finds a gateway to an alternate universe called Nocturne, making this the latest book in the kid-never-really-fits-into-the-real-world-and-finds-out-that-he’s-really-a __________ (wizard / savior of the Underland / descendant of the Brothers Grimm / etc.) I tease Zac and the Dream Stealers because I love. Just because it follows a tried and true formula doesn’t mean it doesn’t have surprises up its sleeve.
Zac learns from Granny that he is a Wakeling — someone from the Waking World. You see, when people like you and me fall asleep, our spirits go to play in a part of Nocturne called the Dream Plains. Magic spills out of the dreams of the Wakelings here, and some evildoers called Dream Stealers are twisting the Wakelings dreams into nightmares to harness dark magic. Granny, as it happens, is a Knight of Nod, and a very important one at that. The Knights of Nod are the only ones who can stop the Dream Stealers.
Granny and the Knights are looking for the Grandmaster of the Knights of Nod, Rumpous Tinn, who’s been captured by the Dream Stealers. While Zac learns more about the Knights as they prepare a quest to find Tinn, the book starts to fold in chapters about Tinn’s adventures as well. While being held captive by the Dream Stealers, Tinn meets Noelle, a girl who can make herself invisible. With their combined powers, they escape and form a bond built on helping each other.
Eventually, everyone meets up, of course, to face off with the baddest of the baddies. We learn mid-book about a “Trinity,” three heroes prophesied to save Nocturne and the Waking World. The book didn’t dwell on this, rather it planted a seed. I kept wondering which three of our characters were going to be the magical three, and the answer was surprising. The answer also sets us up for more books to come.
Zac and the Dream Stealers is great for the Harry Potter kids. The plot is surreal and exciting, and I love that there’s a perfect balance of strong and interesting male and female characters. I’ll be happy when the next book comes along.