The Dreamcaster Series has just been expanded with the publication of a second book on August 23rd 2016: Beautifully Burned. The first part of the series, Wonderfully Wicked, came out a little less than a year ago in October 2015, which was (if I’m not mistaken) the debut of C. J. Burright, author of the fantasy-filled romance series. I got a free arc of the first two books in the series for review from NetGalley.
These are the kinds of series that I really like to read if I don’t want to think and just relax: a romance novel with a fantasy edge to it, especially if they intersect the fantastical with our real world. The premise of The Dreamcaster Series seems simple: vampires exist, but they don’t live on blood however, they feed on dreams. And then it gets a little complicated. They don’t just feed on regular human’s dreams, but on the special dreams of special humans named “dreamcasters”. Basically, these dreamcasters live through horrible nightmares each night, which makes them not only sleep bad, but also a danger to their surroundings since they have the ability to bring their nightmares to live (literally). The vampires are called V’alkara and they live in another dimension where they exist in a brutal brotherhood under the rule of “the White”. They are basically dying, and can only survive thanks to the White’s healing powers, and the dreams of dreamcasters. So they have taken to finding the dreamcasters in the human world, kidnapping them to their home where they proceed to sucking out their dreams until what remains is a hollow, drained shell that will eventually go crazy and die.
The first story is about fierce Kalila, or Lils for short, who grew up an orphan and who counts best friend Mel (who also has mythical powers: she has visions that always come true) as her family. Kalila has resigned herself to a life led on the fringes of life with only some cats and Mel for company. One of her recurring nightmares has been about a blond specimen of the male species who either kills her brutally by slicing her throat, or romances the pants off her (literally). When that blond hunk of a man actually walks into her room, she freaks out, convinced that her dreams of dying at his hands are about to come true. This is where we meet Lydon v’al Endrian, one of the most powerful V’alkara, who has been tasked to find and kidnap her. However, he feels strangely drawn to her and is unwilling to execute his task. But since he is “The Black”, the V’alkara right under “The White” and controlled by him through a psychic bracelet, he is forced to take Kalila to his homeland anyway.
There is one other thing about the V’alkara that becomes clear at this point. There is a legend that the V’alkara can bond with one special dreamcaster, their perfect match if you will. This special bond has benefits for the both of them: the dreamcaster will no longer be bothered by her bad dreams, and the V’alkara will be able to feed on his dreamcaster’s dreams for as much and as long as he wants. This is what Lydon wants to do with Kalila, he wants to persuade her to bond with him. Once that is done, he will be free of the V’alkara brotherhood and no longer under the control of “The White”. So while they travel to the V’alkara stronghold, Lydon does his best to make Kalila fall in love with him. And that is all I will say about the content of the story, the rest you will have to read for yourself.
In the second book of the series, we meet Daxen (who played a minor role in Kalila’s story) who is about to find his own little dreamcaster, Ella. In the last book, “The White” was defeated and replaced by a new “White”, who is a good friend of Kalila and Lydon and who also wants to change things (most importantly, stop hunting down and killing the dreamcasters). He sends out Daxen to find and protect Ella from other V’alkara (some have split off the brotherhood and have formed bands of their own, continuing to do evil). This story is a little different in the fact that Ella didn’t expect Daxen (like Kalila already expected Lydon) and that Daxen isn’t convinced that Ella is his (as Lydon was sure of Kalila). Dax doesn’t like to be touched and does everything he can to keep away from Ella. Of course, in vain, or it would not be a very good romance novel.
The world-building was not great, but it was good. You can read both books separately, reading the first is not required to understand the second. The author does not break up the story to start explaining the rules of her world, but it becomes clear through the actions and conversations of her characters. It evolves slowly and we learn about the V’alkara together with the female character, and catch glimpses of it through the male lead characters as well. The characters are well-built and act and react in believable matters. Their relationship develops slowly throughout the book, stumbling here and there.
I would classify this book as a romance novel with fantasy elements (and not the other way around), since the focus is mostly around the relationship between the two main characters. If you like romantic stories with a twist, then this is a series for you!
Have you already read The Dreamcaster Series or can you recommend me similar books? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!