“The Tyro” (Dreamwalkers of Larreta Book 1) by Carol Holland Marsh

The story is a fascinating one, exploring what freedoms can be found when the spirit is freed to roam beyond the fetters of flesh. The inhabited parts of Larreta, home to ‘the dreamwalkers’ are Utopian, looking “like Earth, but without its imperfections.” Benevolent alien life-forms maintain a perfect environment in which dreamwalkers can explore past lives, wrestle with personal demons free of the constraints that normally shackle earthbound existence and progress along their individual paths until they find another dreamwalker with whom they can become enjoined in the ‘tantrea’ (the perfect union of two souls).

Yet here too, almost inevitably, is a dark and malevolent force, its origin unknown, with the power to open rifts in an otherwise perfect world and swallow individuals and communities whole. Two individuals are identified with the potential to combat this devilry that may otherwise deny dreamwalkers the opportunity to travel between the different worlds. The mission could not be more important, for if the rifts prevent dreamwalkers from travelling to Earth to spread the word of the higher realms, everyone on Earth will be at the mercy of those with dark intent …

This is a superbly imaginative and very well-crafted book. There is evidence aplenty of well-honed narrative technique – a good balance of different sentence lengths and dramatic changes in the length of the paragraphs for striking effect. The author builds in explanations whenever the reader needs them without ever interrupting the flow of the story. Her style is assured and powerful. There are descriptive details of real quality and metaphorical resonance. Just one example: “He wondered what sharks did during storms. Did they take cover in the deep water of the offshore canyon? Or patrol more vigorously for disoriented sea otters?”

I recommend that you get to know Larreta and its inhabitants as soon as possible, and follow this fascinating array of characters as they pursue their mission to close the rifts in the fabric of the worlds, in order to prevent all goodness from being drawn into the insatiable maw of evil for its own malevolent sake. ‘Twas ever thus, but this is a brave new world in which to follow the progress of the eternal struggle.