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Dreams of the Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn
Cover Artist: Arcangel Images
Review by Drew Bittner
Tor Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765334817
Date: 07 January 2014 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Anna West is the granddaughter of Commerce City's first and greatest superheroes, and the daughter of a corporate titan. As if being a teenager in the spotlight wasn't enough, she has a secret: she has a superpower of her own. All her friends do. And they want to use them.

In Dreams of the Golden Age, Carrie Vaughn continues the story begun in After the Golden Age, wherein Celia West rebelled against her superhero parents. Now the shoe is on the other foot, and nearly 20 years later, she is the wife of telepathic ex-hero Dr. Mentis and mother to two girls. She keeps a careful eye on the next generation of potential superheroes and works with the police to keep them safe.

But "safe" and "superhero" don't belong in the same sentence. Anna's group of friends include twins Teia and Lewis and Sam and Teddy--also known as Lady Snow, Stormbringer, Blaster, and Ghost--are working up the courage to try fighting crime, despite being high school students at the prestigious Elmwood School. Anna is fearful that going public too soon will be a catastrophe; Teia, Lewis and Sam want to give it a try, especially after Teddy sort-of foils a robbery.

Meanwhile, Celia has her own struggles on two fronts. West Corp has delivered a plan to revitalize Commerce City's decayed inner precincts, a plan challenged by Danton Majors of Delta, a developer who seems ready to play dirty. Celia also contends with a problem that no superheroics can help solve, a long-delayed consequence of some bad decisions years ago. Taken separately, they're manageable; together, however, they could take her out permanently.

As Teia and her two partners begin to patrol, and acquire the name "the Trinity" when they save people from a burning building and prevent some low-level crimes, their egos get out of control. Anna and Teddy face a decision, to stand with their friends or strike out on their own.

Complicating matters is the arrival of a new superhero, Eliot, who hasn't figured out his nickname, and rumors of a supervillain known only as the Executive.

As Compass Rose, Anna will have to delve deep and push her powers to the limit, when matters escalate and her mom is in mortal danger. Even with a family of superheroes around her, it will come down to Anna's singular talent if Commerce City is to be saved.

Vaughn delivers a terrific follow up to After the Golden Age in this story, presenting Celia some years down the road and much wiser for her experiences. But it is really Anna's story, of a new superpowered teen who has a lot of growing up to do under very difficult circumstances. She's wiser than her friends and far more cautious, which serves her well, but contrasting with the brash Teia and Lewis (and especially Sam), she is too much the voice of reason to lead her friends. She can only watch as they plunge into being Commerce City's newest heroes...and maybe feel a bit of jealousy at their newfound fame.

The cast is strong, with a terrific telepath in Dr. Mentis (he doesn't say *anything* about what he glimpses in other people's minds, except under dire necessity), Celia's mother Suzanne (formerly Spark of the Olympiad superteam) and Analise (once known as Typhoon before a tragedy cut short her career). Mark Paulson, police officer and potential superhuman, is Celia's staunch ally as events spin out of control around her; he goes to great lengths to keep the super-kids safe, which leads to some problems as well.

The nature of the Executive is also fascinating when finally revealed, with some great twists along the way.

Fans of high quality superheroic storytelling will love this new book, no question.

Recommended.

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