The Glass Books Of The Dream Eaters

Written by Gordon Dahlquist
Review by C.W. Gortner

The power to absorb the intimacy of our secret selves and thereby manipulate the mind in a ruthless quest for world dominion is at the heart of Gordon Dahlquist’s absorbing and bizarre The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters.

Set in a pseudo-Victorian city that closely resembles London but is never mentioned by name, written in lucid prose that echoes classic literature, this novel reads like an amalgam of Clive Barker and Caleb Carr, featuring a relentless cabal and three intrepid heroes who unwittingly stumble upon its vast evil plan. When the forthright and independently wealthy Ms Celeste Temple discovers her engagement has been inexplicably severed by her fiancé, she eschews the usual vaporous self-pity of her era and instead sets out to find out why she has been thrown over. Within hours, she finds herself immersed in a treacherous world of covert rendezvous, where she witnesses the conversion of innocents to the mesmerizing power of the blue glass. She matches wits with a lethal chain-smoking Contessa; and, after nearly losing her life, meets and befriends the other two members of her triad – the noble criminal, Chang, and loyal Dr. Svenson, each of whom has his own reason for bringing down the cabal.

The novel alternates between their three points of view, as the triad is separated and each one embarks on a personal journey through a nightmarish landscape. At times, all the chasing about and near-escapes start to wear thin; however, Dahlquist can send a chill down the spine when describing the effects of the transformative process on its victims. He also has a compelling leading man in Chang, whose troubled complexity serves as a perfect counterpoint to the smoke-wreathed menace of the villainess Contessa, who gives this book its dark heart.