The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters Hardcover – Aug 1 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Debut novelist Dahlquist aims for a blockbuster with a mishmash of Sherlock Holmes, Jane Eyre and Eyes Wide Shut that never quite comes together. Three months after 25-year-old Celeste Temple travels from "her island" (a Bermuda-like place) plantation home to Victorian London, fiancé Roger Bascombe breaks their engagement. Driven more by curiosity than desire, she follows him from his job at the foreign ministry to Harschmort House, where, with little prodding, she quickly finds herself in silk undergarments at a ritual involving masked guests and two-way mirrors. Making her escape, Miss Temple (as she's called throughout) kills a henchman. Ceremony organizers pursue her as she pursues their secrets. Poetry-quoting assassin Cardinal Chang and diplomat Dr. Abelard Svenson come to her aid. Chang tries to save a half-Chinese prostitute; Abelard tries to save a governess named Elöise; Miss Temple discovers she is not the woman she thought she was, nor Roger the man she hoped for. Meanwhile, through science and alchemy, evildoers capture erotic memories and personal will in blue crystals. Dahlquist introduces so many characters, props and plot twists, near-death experiences and narrow escapes that the novel has the feel of a frantic R-rated classic comic book—if comics were arch. (Aug. 29)
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"Oh, this guy is goooood! This is the most original thing I've read in years: deftly executed, relentlessly inventive, and with a trio of the most unusual and engaging heroes who ever took on a sinister cabal out to rule the world by means of sex and dreams." —Diana Gabaldon
"A tale that combines swashbuckling adventure, a big dose of science fiction and burgeoning romance."—USA Today
“…studded with treats…beautifully written…”—Entertainment Weekly
"A combination of science fiction, dark fantasy, thriller and gothic horror, this novel is as flat-out fun, engaging and funny as any tale of mystery and imagination I can recall."—John R. Alden, Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Sweeping, highly original and absorbing…. Defies categorization."—Dallas Morning News
Top Customer Reviews
But fortunately, it actually has something to do with Gordon Dahlquist's bizarre, intricate debut novel -- a steampunky Victorian fantasy that slowly takes its three protagonists into the heart of a deadly conspiracy. It's very weird and rather slow-moving at times, but is brilliantly ambitious and atmospheric right to the explosive climax.
After being dumped by her fiancee Roger via letter, Miss Celestial Temple follows him through town to a masked party at a country estate. But the creepy party turns deadly when she witnesses drugged sexual demonstrations and a dying man with burns around his eyes. She barely manages to escape this bizarre cabal, unsure of what to do next.
Then she encounters two strange men -- "Cardinal Chang," an assassin hired to kill her until he discovered that the cabal was experimenting on the prostitute he loves, and Dr. Svenson, a nervous ducal doctor whose Prince has become ensnared in their brainwashing. They compare notes over the cabal, the Process that seems to transform them, Roger's sudden lordhood, snatches of conversation, ghastly machines and a series of shocking paintings.
Most importantly, Svenson reveals cards made out of blue glass -- which somehow have memories imprinted in them. The search for the cabal's goals and the secret of the blue glass leads all three onto parallel, intertwined paths. Chang sets out on a search for the red-clad woman and a scarred ex-prostitute, while Svenson's journey takes him into the heart of a religious cult centering on the books made of blue glass, and Miss Temple learns what her ex's involvement has wrought.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
It all takes place in a sort of re-imagined late-19th century Europe. As if it comes to us through the filter of period literature. Velveteen boudoirs, dashing dragoons, hidden passages... It's deftly written and a wild read. In one nice trope, two brass-masked men see an act of violence witn "the dumb inconmprehension of inhabitants from the moon first witnessing the savagery of human kind," a trope that invokes Melies as much as Verne. Most of all it's a world you can live in, and don't want to leave anytime soon. Think MYST. If you've ever played, you'll see what I mean. The world's created, then you move about it in it and its got tricks and surprises and self-consistent rules.
I can't explain Glass Book's attraction by reference to any single other book, which is I think praise in itself. You'll have to read it.
After picking up and discouragingly putting down novel after novel looking for a great summer read (I also enjoyed last summer's Dracula epic, "The Historian"), I finally found a winner!
Note the interminable amount of time it takes, over and over, for people to get from Point A to Point B. This book is all about transportation. Even the chase scenes seem to be in slow motion. And that coy "this-is-really-London-but-we're-not-going-to-call-it-London" device is truly irritating. With all the endless traveling, we still don't know where we are.
On the other hand, the story has its charms, and the "glass books" are a great concept, and the three main characters are a perfect team. If you have a great deal of patience, you'll be reasonably entertained. But this sure ain't the fantasy blockbuster the ads are claiming it to be. There is no magic here--it's been drowned in an ocean of words. The only word that's missing is economy, something a novelist can only learn with experience (and editing). Maybe next time....
If you need your novels to be just like real life, Glass Books is not for you. Rather, more, it works more in the way of dreams, alternately beautiful and frightening, darkly erotic and an arch tribute to Victoriana. Dahlquist writes in a deliberately stylized manner. If historical fantasy with an edge (such as steampunk, though this is *not* a steampunk novel) appeals to you, you'll love Glass Books. If you like Diana Gabaldon and Susannah Clarke, you'll like this book, though the sexuality is darker (and stranger) than in Gabaldon. You may not be comfortable, but you'll never be bored.