Thursday, March 5, 2015

Dreamwood by Heather Mackey

Lucy's father has put her in a boarding school temporarily. She hates it there and doesn't fit in. When he doesn't send for her like he said he would, Lucy decides to find him herself in the town of Saarthe. He's is a ghostologist and inventor using science to find ghosts. When Lucy arrives at the town where he is supposed to be working, she discovers he has been missing for three weeks. As his apprentice she knows how to think like her father and she figures out where he has gone. Many obstacles from ghosts, protected lands, and competitors threaten to derail Lucy's search but with the help of her friend, Pete, she is able to proceed with her dangerous journey.

Lucy is naive, stubborn, and acts superior to Pete. While Lucy's actions are from people criticizing a dubious profession and laughing at her father and herself for what they do, Pete feels dumb around Lucy who is a smart girl. Pete is also trying to save his family that has gone into debt because of the trees that are dying in Saarthe's forest. The timber industry is the main economy for the people in the town and they are suffering. A reward is being offered to anyone that can figure out why the trees are dying. Lucy and Pete work to uncover the mystery of what is happening with the help of Lucy's father's journals.

The plot is setup so that Lucy is told to not do certain things in the forest but she is absent-minded and always forgets. Tension is built as the reader knows that Lucy shouldn't take anything; yet, she picks up something. Later Pete makes the same mistake. While the technique is fine to use I find I am lose interest when authors do this. I know that the character is going to make the mistake, an obstacle will occur that threatens his or her life, and then he or she overcomes the problem. I prefer when the plot is surprising and this isn't. So while the story is well-written, I found myself skimming these predictable parts.

The villain is presented as more three-dimensional than one-dimensional. I appreciate a complex villain, although I did think his demise was rushed at the end. Plus, his motivation to risk all that he had achieved to gain more, didn't make sense. I thought he would have retreated when everyone was dying in his crew. That had an Indiana Jones feel to it and I know students will like those action scenes even if they seemed unlikely. The end wraps up the loose ends well. I just finished a book on nightmares and read this book on dreams, all of which is making me sleepy. I'm off to bed. Sweet dreams.

3 Smileys

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