Dreamwalker by Rhys Bowen and C.M. Broyles (2 of 5 stars)

Dreamwalkers is a middle-grade fantasy novel that is the first book in the Red Dragon Academy series. Our main character is a 12-year-old named Addy. Addy lived in California up until her mother’s death, at which point she was brought over to the UK by her aunt (her only living relative). Because her aunt is busy and important and doesn’t have time or space for Addy, arrangements quickly are made for her to attend the only boarding school that could be found to take Addy in the middle of the school term on such short notice: The Red Dragon Academy.

The Red Dragon Academy is one of the last places that Addy wants to go. She wants to go back home to her life in California, not to this strange school that used to be an insane asylum. It still has the bars on the windows, and Addy suspects there might be a dungeon! The people that run it are weird and Addy has a hard time making friends. Things start getting even stranger as Addy and 6 of her fellow first-years get pulled into a strange class where their first assignment is to find “7 impossible things before breakfast,” and Addy finds a part of the school that seems to be only accessible down a “haunted hallway” and through a mirror.

I have mixed feelings about this book. The plot itself was interesting. I found myself wanting to know what was going to happen next. Additionally, while the characters did seem to act a little older than the 12-ish they were supposed to be, the characters were interesting enough that I wanted to know more about them (although my favorite character, Gwylum, was someone we got very little from). That being said, the writing of the book left something to be desired. There were typos (words that are obviously the wrong word, like writing “our” when it should be “out”), and continuity errors (someone putting away her journal on a previous page but now has it in bed with her, for example). Beyond the editing issues, there was a quality to the writing that was lacking: minor characters (like Addy’s aunt, for example) that became little more than caricatures of people or situations that become written off by characters as “obviously this happened!” when there was no way that the character could have known that.

While I can see this book being an interesting book for a middle-grade reader who like fantasy, and part of me does want to read the next book in the series, I would hesitate to recommend this book because of the quality of the writing.

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