July 2004
© 2004 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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In Your Dreams by Tom Holt
Orbit (UK) Trade: ISBN 1841491594 PubDate: 07/01/04
Review by Antony Wagman

480 pgs. List price £12.99
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Following Tom Holt’s previous novel, The Portable Door (reviewed back in our March issue) variously described as “uniquely twisted,” “wildly imaginative” and “fast and funny” we now have the release of the sequel, the “uniquely twisted” “wildly imaginative” and “fast and funny” In Your Dreams.

I have quoted these repeated jacket blurbs for good reason. Whereas we are all adult enough (even the children among us... in fact especially the children among us) not to be so naïve as to believe every strap line that appears on every book cover, one does get a little suspicious when publishers churn out the same old ones every time. True, we not going to see comments like “It was alright, I suppose,” or “Beats watching the telly…just!” but it seems to me that something recent and related to the book or series in hand would be appropriate.

In Holt’s latest we once again enter the world of Paul – the sad loser who is training to become a Magician at J W Wells . In In Your Dreams Paul – in no particular order - looses his girl, becomes the archetypal hero, dies several times and learns more about his family. We are learn more about some of the previously less well known partners of the firm; the once-stapler Mr Wells Senior; Mr Stumway; the accounting dwarf and the heroic Ricky Wurmtoter; and there is more from Mr Tanner’s mother the goblin and of course Queen Judy of the Fey (for those with a kink for office supplies, the now-photocopier Mr Wells Junior is only mentioned in passing!). New characters introduced all seem to be relatives of the current cast, with cousins of Judy, siblings of Ricky and various family members of both Mr Tanner and Paul himself appearing and disappearing at their leisure.

It is JWW’s policy for all new recruits to spend a month or so in each of their departments – to see where their strengths my lie. Our hero having done his turn scrying for ore with Dennis Tanner has now rotated to the Pest Control department under the tutelage of Ricky Wurmtoter. Pest Control is a euphemism for Heroism at JWW and Paul is soon slaying dragons - a small one… by sitting on it ! and various other deeds of derring-do. Paul’s life is falling to bits as Sophie (his new found love from The Portable Door ) leaves him for pastures fresh, he begins to hate his work even more than usual, one of the partners tries to kill him and he finds out that his parents retired on the proceeds from selling him to JWW. The rest is for you to read and discover but rest assured, In Your Dreams is not short on plot.

My review of The Portable Door highlighted certain issues I have with Holt’s work. I balanced this with some admiring comments as to the puns, the one-liners and the Dragon poo. These elements are all sadly missing in this second installment and needless to say, it was the absent Dragon poo that concerned me most !

But seriously folks, once again the makings of an excellent book are here. There is a good storyline, enjoyable characters and some twists and turns that left me amused and often bemused… BUT (and it really is a capital BUT) when all is said and done, this tale does not flow, the humour is average and the pace is somewhere between slow and steady. “Fast and funny”? Sorry, but no. There are lengthy sections of In Your Dreams that are, frankly, as dull as dishwater – but, of course, you can’t put that on a dust jacket… or can you?

© 2004 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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