Dream Magic: Awakenings by Dawn Harshaw

I received this book in exchange for an honest review from the author.

About the book: Dream Magic: Awakenings is a hard-fantasy novel by Dawn Harshaw, published in February 2012.

Summary (from here): Eric, a young boy, has enough of nightmares ruining his
dreams. Determined to grow stronger, he tackles magical disciplines one at a time
– be it flying, blade magic, or telepathy – and stares down his fears. But,
will he survive the battles and the trial of nightmare mastery? And at what

“Understanding is the inward motion of a net; rationalizing the world and slicing it with Ockham’s razor. The constriction and expansion of relations, the normalization, the simplification, the grasping of essence and the pruning of the irrelevant to bring back a useful simulation – this is ‘understanding’.”

Eric chuckled. “I don’t understand understanding.”

Rating: 3.5/5

My Thoughts: The book is full of wonderful concepts like the one I quoted above. The book was supposed to be Harry-Potter-esque, but to be honest, it reminded me a lot of Diana Wynne Jones’s Chrestomanci series: especially of The Lives of Christopher Chant, where Chant walks to different worlds in his dreams. Eric is similar a young boy visiting in his dreams a place called Dream Camp, where, with the other kids, he learns to fight his nightmares. They have a Dreamer’s Handbook and every chapter has one type of magic, which the children learn together.

When I read a fantasy novel, my usual concern is that the supernatural element will be vague and unconvincing. This is definitely not a concern when it comes to this book. It is no doubt that a lot of thought and work went into creating the magic of this world. Every little thing was explained in detail. Instead of simply stating that they could teleport, the author mentioned how. It was almost as if I studied the Dreamer’s Handbook along with Eric (much beyond getting to know the name or the words of a spell.) I loved the detail in the book and the focus on each of the different aspects of magic is spectacular. Along with that, the book provides a great perspective on life and childhood, dreams and fears. If you are as awed by dreams as I am and like to unravel the mysteries of  magic, this is the book for you.

However, there seemed to be little plot and the ending was rushed. At times I felt as if the characters and dialogue were there only to add to the book some semblance of story. I felt like it would have made a better read as just “The Dreamer’s Handbook”, like with Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them or Quidditch Through the Ages. Another tiny problem I had was there was very little explanation of the characters’ real lives and why this dream world existed for them. I would have liked a little more backstory for Eric or the other characters.

But these little concerns are overshadowed by the really good writing which makes the book thoroughly engaging. If you like YA or fantasy fiction, hurry and buy this book right here.

One thought on “Dream Magic: Awakenings by Dawn Harshaw”

  1. I hadn't heard of this one- but it does sound interesting. I am glad the fantasy elements were explained and captured your interest. I thought your honest review was very helpful. Thanks for sharing. 🙂


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