James Rhyder and the Cave of Dreams -David S. Brooks

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*I received a free copy of this book, with thanks to the author.  The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*

Blurb:  Twelve-year-old James Rhyder is being hunted by people from a hidden world he never knew existed.

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Unlike most people his age, James doesn’t dream at night of becoming a hero. Rather, his dreams are filled with shadowy figures and cryptic warnings about the end of the world. As these strange dreams begin to make James question if he’s going crazy like his mother, a quirky girl named Rheyna Anwen whisks him away into an unseen world where psychics, druids, and magic are real.

At first the enchanted cabins and unusual summer camp where new psions, known as psychics to the outside world, are trained feels unbelievable, like one of his mystifying dreams. However, James soon discovers a secret about himself which threatens to turn this new life into a nightmare: his dreams are a dangerous and illegal talent known as dreamwalking.

When a mysterious man in blue -who’d been stalking James all summer- kidnaps one of his cabinmates, his strange dreams may be the only way he can save his comrade. Now, James must learn to trust his new friends, control his illegal psion talent, and put aside his insecurities. If he can’t, much more could be at stake than just one missing camper.

James Rhyder and the Cave of Dreams is an adventure–and-magic-filled middle grade adventure, that adult readers will also enjoy.

There are obvious comparisons to another famous series here, as young James is whisked from his difficult ‘Muggle’ home-life to a mysterious magical camp where it turns out he has special powers and that dark intrigue lurks amongst the other student campers and camp tutors.

Despite certain similarities, David S. Brooks has created his own world, with its own unique rules and properties, and peopled it with his own individual characters, with their own motivations and quirks. The result is a fresh novel in a familiar genre, and thoroughly enjoyable in its own right.

I particularly love James’ bookwormish tendencies, which really resonated with me as a fellow bibliophile who also used to hide in libraries and bookshops in my spare time, and befriend librarians (usually in the hope of exceeding the lending limit!). I also found the side characters – Rheyna, Bag, Tasha, Gero, Kane, etc – interesting in their own right, and really want to know more about their lives, histories and talents, as well as more about James and his unusual family past.

Whilst the immediate problems are resolved within this story, there are plenty of pointers towards future adventures to come from Camp Tutis, and I cannot wait to get back there! I hope it won’t be another whole year before the camp reopens its doors and the cabins change to welcome their new, and old, inhabitants. I want to see where James’ dreams take him next!

As they strolled through the forest Rheyna told him stories of other fantastical forest creatures she would be teaching him about this summer. She was just finishing a long-winded story about something called a teneon when they passed into a large clearing. On the far side of the glen James could see a long, wood-burned sign hung over a nearby break in the tree line which read:

Welcome to Camp Tutis,
Where knowledge is sacred,
Wonderment is required,
Talent is rewarded,
Hard work is currency,
And curiosity is essential.

Rheyna followed his gaze, “James, let me be the first to welcome you to our camp, your camp if you wish, Tutis.”

– David S. Brooks, James Rhyder and the Cave of Dreams
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You can follow David S. Brooks on Twitter and Goodreads.

James Rhyder and the Cave of Dreams is available on Amazon right now!

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