Orbit (Time Warner UK)
Date: June 2004
it at Amazon US
Comic Fantasy [Present Day, London, England]
Rachel A Hyde
In Your Dreams
By Tom Holt
confess to feelings of joy when I discovered that Tom Holt had written
a sequel to the utterly delightful The Portable Door (also reviewed
on this site). Readers of my reviews might know that I am not normally
a fan of Mr. Holt in particular, nor comic fantasy in general but
I did rather go overboard for this one.
Because surely there are few literary treasures more to be coveted
than a jolly good comedy, and when this sort of thing works, it
is a joy. Paul Carpenter is back anyway, still amazed that Sophie
appears to still love him and still tied to his eventful and peculiar
job at H W Wells & Co. It appears that he has been promoted
to the position of Hero, but as he knows that he is not one this
job description must surely be in error. Paul is also going to meet
his old uncle, discover various other things about himself and a
whole lot more things about his job. If he guesses that they aren’t
going to fill him with joy, then at least he won’t be disappointed.
I can’t really tell you a lot more
about the story, or it would give the game away. You will have to
read it to find out more about the plot, and the fact that a comic
fantasy actually has a plot surely counts very much in its favor.
This is quite a fat book, but somehow all those pages get filled.
Slaying dragons, scary banks, cars who used to be people, magic
doors all play their part in a strangely uplifting story that shows
how Paul goes from being a failure, to, well, not being one. The
strange world of the Fey is imaginative and compelling, and the
plot twists and turns in ways I couldn’t have guessed. There
is a real story in here, and the feeling that it is the jumping-off
point for many, many more.
Pratchett delights his readers by demonstrating how a fantasy world
can resemble modern Britain; Tom Holt does the opposite. He shows
how modern Britain can contain a fantasy world, rather akin to Rowlings’
tales of parallel places for magic users and Muggles. As he does
in The Portable Door, Holt keeps the suspense up throughout
the book, rather in the way a whodunit does (and this is a sort
of whodunit) and keeps the humor rolling along as well, though in
a restrained way that fits the story rather than wild flights of
silliness. The characters themselves come to life in a satisfying
way, even if Paul’s non-stop feelings of inadequacy do pall
a bit after a time. If you like this book, then I won’t spoil
it for you by mentioning that it looks as though there might be
another sequel. I do hope so, as this seems to be what all Mr. Holt’s
earlier books have been a rehearsal for.