The Dark Dreamweaver

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
The Dark Dreamweaver Book Poster Image
Mild, bland, confusing, amateurish fantasy.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages
Violence & Scariness

Some mild fighting with injuries, all magically healed, and some apparent deaths that turn out not to be.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this was written to be fairly unobjectionable. For a fantasy book especially, the violence is very mild.

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What's the story?

Humans on Earth are increasingly suffering from nightmares. David meets a caterpillar named Houdin, who is really an enchanted wizard from Remin, a world where dreams are, well, processed. \"It's hard to explain but that's the best I can do right now,\" Houdin tells David. So you'll just have to be satisfied with that.

Anyway ... David and Houdin travel to Remin, sort of through a bathtub drain, but it's hard to tell. There David learns that an evil wizard named Thane has stolen the Imaginator (for reasons never entirely clear, but that seem to have something to do with teaching everyone a lesson, only then he goes insane, of course, which can explain anything), which controls spectrum, which ... oh, never mind, anyway, he's bad and has to be defeated. And, of course, only David can do it.

Is it any good?

This is the kind of novel adults think kids ought to like, and it has gotten a bunch of awards from parenting organizations you've mostly never heard of. And, no doubt some kids will enjoy it. But one of the biggest advantages of waiting until your work is good enough to get picked up by a real publisher is that you get a professional editor who will push you to make you a better writer.

The plot -- boy goes to other world, learns magic, defeats evil wizard -- has been done before, the story is bland, and the writing is amateurish. There is no believable character development. Despite pages and pages of exposition, the way magic works, and the reasons for the wizard's evil, are unclear at best, and there's no internal logic -- things just seem to happen for the convenience of the plot. The jokes show the author amusing himself, and will mostly go right over the heads of young readers: One spell is "Puffnstuff," and another is "Vulcanius Mindmeldium."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about dreams. Why do we have them? Do you ever enjoy them? What are some scary dreams you've had?

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