CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 36 . . . . May 18, 2012
Three Dreams Deep.
D. F. Lamont.
Winnipeg, MB: Jetpack Media, 2012.
171 pp., pbk., $13.99.
Grades 4-8 / Ages 9-13.
Review by Ann Ketcheson.
They were rising up everywhere, in every direction. Willis had no clue which way to go.
“Come on!” Sala shrieked, grabbing him and Miles by the hand. “Follow me!”
They started to run, with the creatures erupting from the ground all around them. Willis glimpsed weird deformed creatures dragging themselves out of the earth covered in what looked like crude oil.
He saw what at first looked like a woman, with long misshapen arms pulling herself free from one of the nests and was shocked to see she (sic) that her torso tapered off to a neat point, a kind of half-woman, half-bat. With her arms she started scrabbling across the ground towards them.
Some were just creatures, and not human at all. There was a giant worm, black-armored like a centipede, many-jointed, writhing and as thick as a fire hydrant. It waved its blunt, eyeless bullet-shaped head around like it was trying to catch a scent, then started undulating towards them.
There were things whose front half was a hairless dog, tapering off into the body of a salamander, or fish-faced people – a gaping fishy mouth with pointy pike teeth and a slimy fish skin, pulling themselves forward on human arms while taking great rasping gasps of air.
The whole landscape was turning dark, as black ooze spilled out from the pods around the escaping creatures. Whether by reflection or some magic sympathy the sky above was growing darker too.
Willis, Sala and Miles tried to step only on the parts of the ground that were still white, dodging and weaving, taking little leaps then long ones. It was like running down a school hallway with black-and-white checkerboard floors, and only stepping on the white tiles, except the black area was always getting bigger and the white spots were shrinking away.
Willis is a 13-year-old who dreams of Sala, a girl who says they used to be the best of friends. Willis vaguely remembers such a girl but thought she was merely a figment of his childhood imagination. Sala asks Willis for help to find her brother Miles who has been lost for years in another reality. Willis isn’t sure he can trust Sala; in fact, he still isn’t sure she is even real. Perhaps Willis is only dreaming, or perhaps this is a dream within another dream. Can Willis actually go three dreams deep in order to help Sala and find the missing Miles? What if Willis becomes so enmeshed in the deep dream reality that he cannot return to the real world?
D. F. Lamont has created an interesting scenario based on the weird and crazy dreams we all experience from time to time, and his main character, Willis, is led through many adventures as he attempts to penetrate a dream world which confronts him with strange landscapes, frightening creatures and seemingly real people who would like nothing more than to draw him into this odd new world and never let him return to his normal life. The character of Willis is well-described and believable as is that of Sala. Readers meet both protagonists in the first pages of the novel, and Lamont gives them credibility and helps his readers to understand and sympathize with their situation.
Because most of the action of the novel takes place in a dream-like environment, Lamont is able to sustain the plot despite the settings varying wildly and the fact that there is very little consistency from one mini-adventure to the next. Cause and effect relationships have been overlooked in favour of events which, although exciting in themselves, seem to occur too haphazardly and coincidentally. Even in the dream world and the fantasy genre, readers might expect a more cohesive plot.
This is a second novel for D. F. Lamont, and there are places where it would benefit from some extra editing to further polish the characters and tighten the plot lines. That said, it will undoubtedly have appeal for its intended audience of young readers at the junior and perhaps intermediate levels of elementary school due to its creative and imaginative nature, and so has been awarded three of a potential four stars.
Ann Ketcheson, who lives in Ottawa, ON, is a retired teacher-librarian and teacher of high school English and French.
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