________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 4. . . .September 23, 2011



Nicole Luiken.
Winnipeg, MB: Great Plains, 2011.
227 pp., pbk., $14.95.
ISBN 978-1-926531-08-3.

Grades 5 and up / Ages 10 and up.

Review by Janet Johnson.

**** /4



The thought that I'd been impressed by just five wulfdraigles at the Miller house fire I now found bitterly amusing. I counted at least four, glutting themselves on the fire. They didn't attack us directly, but hung around the fringes of the flashlight beam's range, darting forward to take a snap at me whenever my attention wavered. The pressure on my mind to change the dream grew intense. I was stumbling when we pulled the fourth person out of the choking inferno.


Rarely is a sequel as entertaining as the first book in a series, but Dreamline is one of those positive exceptions. Dreamline, a sequel to Dreamfire, is a supernatural fantasy adventure based on the mythical existence of a wolf-like beast called the wulfdraigle, an ancient enemy of early prehistoric man. These are wolf-type creatures which, according to legend, existed at one time in prehistory but now live in an alternate dimension in a shadowy form and prey on any fear and terror they, themselves, have caused among the modern world. The dimension of the wulfdraigle was only accessible through dreams, and this ability was restricted to a very few people with the "gift" to travel in this dimension. The wulfdraigles, themselves, cannot leave this dimension, but they want to return to having physical shapes so they may once again hunt and kill people as they used to do. They need to enlist people to help them interfere in the real world, and, although they are manifestations of evil, they enlist human conduits to assist them by offering real wealth and good looks and by generally giving humans the enticements of power. Just such a conduit helped them to destroy the town of Grantmere in a fire when Lissa was a young girl. Lissa's sister, Brianne, saves the town in Dreamfire, and now Lissa has the gift and she believes that she has to take up the challenge of protecting the town from the wulfdraigles. Lissa's special gift, called "dream come true", allows her to travel invisibly by crossing over into people's dreams by crossing the dreamline. Also, anything she can imagine across the dreamline becomes real in this other dimension.


In spite of this fantastical gift, when readers are introduced to Lissa, they meet an unhappy, bullied teenager who feels she is different and who isolates herself from her peers. Her life changes, however, when a new boy, Mitch Kincaid, and his father move into Grantmere. Lissa discovers that Mitch has a gift like hers and he is aware of the dreamline. However, Mitch is unwilling to accept his strange abilities as a normal part of himself. This self-doubt is complicated because his father tells the school that Mitch has issues and is mentally unstable. Regardless of popular opinion, Lissa develops a romantic interest in the young man and tries to get him to accept his special powers. Mitch's father turns out to be the conduit, and he is being paid to conduct a ceremony to bring over the wuldraigles to a reserve he has developed on his property.

      When Lissa is coerced by her parents into taking part in the weekend counselling sessions offered by Mitch's father, she finally is forced into situations where she has to deal with her peers in outdoor activities like trail biking. This group of teens, each with her/his own ambitions, qualities and faults, will create more interest for the reader as high school social life is very important for this age group, especially if it includes some romantic bonding. Excellent characterization and varied types contribute to the credibility of the story.

      Mitch's father needs to collect these unwitting teens to participate in a ceremony to enable the beasts to cross the dreamline, but it would only work when certain stars are aligned. Lissa and Mitch discover this plot and stop the plan from successfully occurring, even though their actions mean that Mitch's father will die.       The horror in this story is much more subdued that the current cinema varieties of vampire and zombie flicks, but Luiken has skilfully created suspense by situating the story in a typical prairie town. The story is fast paced, and each supernatural episode builds in intensity until the very end when it is win or die.

      The story will appeal not only to genre readers of horror and fantasy, but the elevated level of writing will be appreciated by educators as well as the avid reader. It isn't necessary to have read Dreamfire to read Dreamline, and it is very possible that another book situated in Grantmere may be written. I hope so.

      As a rule, emphasis on character development isn't expected to be a key ingredient in adventure stories, but each of the main characters in Dreamline is portrayed convincingly via the devices of their actions and thoughts as well as by the glimpses of the dreams they have at night. As with all fantasy, a willing suspension of disbelief is required.

      I really enjoyed Dreamline, and I would not hesitate to recommend it to any reader. Its theme of adolescence and identity will appeal to young readers with an interest in adventure, the supernatural and light horror.

Highly Recommended.

Janet Johnson, a recently retired library technician educator, lives in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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