Welcome 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.