Archive for Gordon Dahlquist

Low-Res

Posted in New release, Young Adult with tags , , on February 25, 2013 by jaclemens

Different GirlThe Different Girl is a different book for Gordon Dahlquist. It’s written for a different audience and told by a different voice. I’d like to hear what that voice sounds like on the audiobook, for the narrator is no ordinary girl. Not by our standards, at any rate; by her own standards the only thing that distinguishes Veronika from Caroline, Eleanor, and Isobel is the color of her hair. It’s not until May arrives on the island that Veronika begins to recognizes differences, for May is a very different girl.

I enjoyed the juxtaposition of what makes a girl different, and the story only works in Veronika’s voice. I felt constrained by her limited first person point-of-view, however. Without the larger picture available the story had an unfinished quality to it, which may have been intentional.  As a fan of Dahlquist’s books for adults (very different books), this seemed decidedly low-res.

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The Dark Volume review

Posted in Fiction, New release with tags , , on April 16, 2009 by jaclemens

dark-volumeGordon Dahlquist’s second book The Dark Volume is accurately titled. Like the great airship that crashes on the Iron Coast at the end of the first book, it lacks the lift of its predecessor, The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters. Instead of the Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso format of The Divine Comedy Dahlquist begins with the Ascension, followed by the Descension. Will the third book be the Rescension?

Miss Temple, Cardinal Chang, and Doctor Svenson have survived their confrontation with the cabal on the airship, where Miss Temple slew her former fiance. He and the majority of the cabal were destroyed, but some of their opponents took drastic glass-related measures to survive.  The artist-alchemist who discovered the properties of the blue glass was not among the survivors, but his knowledge was captured in a glass book before he expired.  This is the highly sought after dark volume, and new alliances are formed and fractured in the pursuit of its resources.  When it is at last obtained by a party with the power to employ it it is found to be corrupted by the man’s death and no one gets what they wanted from it.  I didn’t get quite what I wanted from reading The Dark Volume on the heels of the luminous first book, but that is often the case with second books.  I look forward to the Redemption of the third book.

The Industrial Age of Alchemy

Posted in Fiction, Recommendations with tags , on April 8, 2009 by jaclemens

glass-books-of-the-dream-eatersWelcome to the industrial age of alchemy. Through a noxious mechanical process, a type of indigo clay is refined into a blue glass that is able to absorb and store dreams, experiences, and memories. Once imprinted the glass can be circulated and viewed by countless others who will vicariously experience the imprinted memory, adding it to their own. In a card bearing a single experience this is a novelty; in a book containing multiple lifetimes it redefines identity. This clay is a limited natural resource that is expensive to process and dangerous to harness, so a powerful cabal of industrialists, scientists, and politicians has combined their efforts in order to achieve their separate ambitions.

Into this sordid plot steps Celeste Temple, a young heiress who has been unceremoniously dismissed by her fiance, a functionary in the Foreign Ministry. Curious to learn what has replaced her in his affections, she decides to follow him about London town. When he leaves town aboard a train, she impulsively goes along for the ride. His end destination (and hers) is a country manor called Harschmort House, where she narrowly escapes (not entirely intact) becoming an initiate of the cabal. Also at Harschmort House that night are a shadowy figure known only as Cardinal Chang, and Doctor Svenson, a naval captain-surgeon attending to a foreign prince who has been drawn into the cabal’s web of influence. Against their common foe Miss Temple, Cardinal Chang, and Doctor Svenson find themselves in league to undermine a well-connected and well-equipped cabal they barely comprehend.

This is Gordon Dahlquist’s intricate fabrication The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters.  A playwright, Dahlquist provides an immense amount of physical details in order to establish the reality of this otherworldly tale.  The degree of detail is such that the large novel has been issued in two volumes in trade paperback.  This is no hindrance to reading the story, as Dahlquist masterfully maintains the tension and the pace.  The secrets of the glass and the  overarching motives of the cabal keep interest piqued throughout.  So deep is the intrigue that there is some palpable risk of being absorbed in The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters!  Terrifically inventive and darkly erotic, this is a book for those readers who, like Miss Temple, are willing to open their minds to thrilling and frightening adventures.