Book Review: The Dream Gatherer by Kristen Britain

Title: The Dream Gatherer

Author:  Kristen Britain

Publisher: DAW

Publication Date: October 23, 2018

Genres: Epic Fantasy

Shelves: Female-fronted, Female-author

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Green Rider series, which means it's probably been about 19 years since I read Green Rider. I've been looking for an excuse to shift the TBR pile a bit and dive back into the series, and the publication of The Dream Gatherer is exactly what I needed to rekindle the magic.

The first thing that struck me about the collection was the introductory pieces, which lay out an interesting - I'd go so far as to say surprising - pedigree. Julie Czerneda has some wonderful things to say about Kristen Britain, their shared DAW history, and their friendship, while Kristen herself talks of working as a ranger with the National Park Service, riding the trails, and wanting to transplant epic fantasy landscape from Europe to the wilds of Maine. What surprised me was the role Terry Goodkind played in her career, introducing her to his agent, and offering early support and ongoing feedback.

As for the stories themselves, 'Wishwind' is a simple story about a shipwreck, a mysterious island, and its peculiar occupant. With its fable or fairy tale feel, and its exploration of magic as a tool versus a weapon, it's a gentle introduction to the collection.

Meanwhile, 'Linked, on the Lake of Souls' is a story from within a story, something told to Karigan in the course of her adventures. It's a fun story of bravery, teamwork, and ingenuity, but there some dark aspects to it as well, with lost souls in the lake and the threat of a child sacrifice.

The main attraction here, of course, is 'The Dream Gatherer' itself. There was so much to enjoy here, it really reminded me of what I liked about the Green Rider in the first place. The whole concept of a ship broken out of its bottle, magically embedded itself in a cottage, is fantastic, and the eccentric Berry sisters are a lot of fun to read about. The draumkelder is a great bit of magic, pulling people from their dreams, but the emergence of a nightmare gives the story a dangerous, heroic edge.

Ironically, while her shadow looms large over The Dream Gatherer, Karigan herself is largely absent from the stories. That makes this a peculiar introduction for new readers (especially with the title novella alluding to events later in the series, which I forced myself to skip over), but a nice diversion for fans.

Rating: ♀ ♀ ♀ ♀