Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Ren has always wanted to leave, to escape his quiet village life. He wakes up from gold-tinged dreams with his heart pounding and a yearning for something he can’t name, can’t hold. He longs to experience something magical just once in his life.
Nico’s monsters don’t lurk under the bed. They walk in daylight. They haunt him every day of his life. He’s possibly the strongest magician of his time, yet he’s trapped. All he wants is an out.
At a magical carnival in the middle of a forest, Ren and Nico collide. They’ve been on this collision course their entire lives, always hurtling toward each other. For both men, escape is now. They have no choice but to flee together. Monsters and betrayal hunt them across strange lands. They find themselves on a journey to save each other—and possibly the world. All they have is one another, Nico’s magic, and a lifetime of half-remembered dreams. But finding each other, finally having someone to rely on, might be the strongest magic of all.
He Dreams Magic by Emme C. Taylor is a magician’s bags of surprises and narrative marvels. Everytime you think you might have figured where the author is taking the story and character development, Taylor springs a shocker on the reader or does a storythread revelation that takes the tale and people in an entirely different direction. And does it again and again, each taking on a darker more ominous tone.
And it all starts out so brightly, with a carnival and fires that light up the night sky and our introduction to the characters of Ren from a nearby village and Nico from the mystical carnival. Neither of the main characters is given much of a background, that gets slowly filled in over the course of the story. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that as It leaves Ren coming across as someone less layered than Nico. This will be rectified as the power of the story builds. Nico is all the bright magic and Ren the mundane. That’s the beginning.
The journey, with all the many twists and turns, doesn’t end until the very last incredible sentence. There, the author pulls together the entire story, for both boys, all the magic, all their perils. everything into one drop dead “worth everything” conclusion. I didn’t expect that. I read it four times. I would rec this story on that ending alone.
He Dreams Magic by Emme C. Taylor is extremely well written, excellently plotted with so many twists and turns to keep the reader connected to both the story and characters. There is amazing character growth and development, along with revelations along those lines that will continue right up until the very last sentence of this amazing story. I highly recommend it.
Cover Art: Natasha Snow is dark, the figures nebulous. Exactly what this story is! Perfect.