Book Review: Dreamwalker Red Dragon Academy, Book One Rhys Bowen and C.M. Broyles

Dreamwalker is the first book in the Red Dragon Academy series by Rhys Bowen and C.M. Broyles. Addy is a typical California surfer girl until her mother dies and her aunt leaves her at a strange boarding school in Wales. She makes some good friends, and enemies, as she explores her new school. Odd teachers and classes keep them on their toes. Then Addy discovers that one hallway leads not to another part of the school but to another universe. Addy has always had vivid dreams. Now it seems this power to dream has made her the enemy of the powerful ruler of that other world. How can Addy and her new friends be any match for the powerful Grymur who calls himself The One in a world where nothing makes sense.

Dreamwalker is a children's fantasy novel that sets off a new series that covers two worlds and a cast of unique kids, at least seven of which have special gifts. The official teaser for this book proclaims the importance of the seven children having seven powers, but this book is mostly Addy's journey. We meet the major players and get plenty of foreshadowing of what gifts the other children have, but this is mostly about Addy finding her place, her powers, and getting a grasp of the fantasy aspects that will be important for the series as a whole. The build up and discovery of the second reality is huge, but it does not overshadow Addy’s search for her own place and identity amiss all the changes and oddness she is facing. The majority of high adventure and excitement is saved up for the end of the book, leaving quite the build up of expectations and questions for the second book in the series to try and field. I was looking for one more chapter to kind of wrap up some of those, but was left needing to reading the next book. Not the worst way to get the reader to keep going, but not the best either. I expect I will continue the series as some point, but it will have to wait.

Dreamwalker is a good start to a children’s fantasy novel. My main complaint is with the untied ends at the conclusion of the book, making the book feel a wee bit like that first chapter or section of a story than a complete work. However, until that ending I was interested in the story and I care about the characters of the story, and want to learn more and see where their journey takes them. 

Rhys Bowen is the New York Times bestselling author of two adult mystery series. She now pairs with her daughter Clare to explore their love of fantasy in a series that fills the hole left by Harry Potter: a strange boarding school, a mirror world, seven amazing powers and ordinary kids battling a terrifying enemy out to destroy them. Rhys will call upon her extensive social media, library and bookstore connections to get the word out about these books.

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