by Edmund R. Schubert
Review by Andrew Brooks
Lachesis Publishing Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781897562161
Date: 16 October 2008
List Price $15.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: Interview: Edmund R. Schubert / Show Official Info /
Ed Schubert's first novel, Dreaming Creek, definitely answers one question we've all had concerning a guy switching bodies with his girlfriend. The answer is that, yes, the first thing a guy would do is check out his own breasts. While that may not surprise anyone, myself least of all, Schubert's first novel should. Although the guy's written a ton of short stories, this is his first novel and one solid first novel it is. The characters are endearing without being sickeningly so, and the premise, well, who hasn't wondered what it would be like to walk a hundred miles in their girlfriend's high heels? Guys, don't answer that question.
Dreaming Creek starts out with Danny Wakeman and his girlfriend, Sara, facing the same problems most couples face. Danny deals with a mother-in-law who doesn't think he's good enough for her daughter; Sara has to deal with Danny's callous friend Marcus, whom she can't stand and who seems to have her boyfriend fooled into thinking he's not the creep he is. On top of that, Sara is hiding a recent miscarriage from Danny and Danny is having doubts as to why she won't marry him. Also, if that's not enough, Marcus is withholding a secret from he and Danny's past which might threaten all three of them. And then Schubert tosses the switch in, complicating matters further.
Danny and Sara take a trip to Canada in order to relax, get away from the overbearing mother-in-law, and take a respite from the grind of daily life. Their guide leads them to Dreaming Creek, a place the Indians revered and a place that, legend has it, grants wishes. Danny knows what he wants, and it's not really to get in touch with his feminine side. He wants Sara to marry him, but he can't bring himself to say the words. When he hesitates and Sara remembers an earlier conversation the two had concerning what sex feels like for a woman, they make the wish that changes it all.
From that point on the two discover what it's like to be a member of the opposite sex, with all of the respective pluses and minuses. But they also discover something else-Danny is pregnant. Well, technically Sara is but since she's in Danny's body and he's in hers… The two then have to learn to be the other, in order to convince those around them, and deal with a lawsuit that comes up as well as the shady behavior of Marcus. There's no lack of conflict here, that's for sure, but Schubert doesn't rush from problem to problem. The good bulk of the book really is just Danny and Sara trying to make sense of their lives and their relationship. But that's okay, as the story may be more about what it means to be a human being, dealing with how relationships work instead of the author careening from one plot point to the next. If that sounds good to you, then Dreaming Creek is definitely worth a look.
Schubert has a very clear, very concise writing style. He does not bog down with detail, nor does he attempt to hammer the reader over the head with his own social observations. It appears, in fact, that he quite simply put the characters on the page and let them do their thing, allowing the reader to draw what conclusions they might. I imagine that's a hard thing to do, but Schubert does it quite well. If I hadn't researched and found out that this was his first novel I would have thought him an old pro. He certainly writes like one.
While Dreaming Creek is a good book it's not without a few minor flaws, some of those flaws actually being strengths depending on what the reader expects from a book. One of the things that stood out for me, though, was the way in which some of the peripheral characters act towards Danny and Sara, post body switch. Their guide, although Danny and Sara make an okay case of their having switched bodes, accepted it a little too readily for me. A couple of other characters accept their change with little more than Danny and Sara's say so, and I got a little hung up on that. I know it's a book, but I expected there to be more of a struggle for acceptance. It came too easily at times for me. The other thing I noticed, which for some readers might be a turn off, is that the book is one that often meanders. While I like a book that doesn't race from act to act, it could be a problem for some readers. To be honest, though, Scubert's writing style is almost thriller-like in its clarity and the short chapters make for quick reading. It's the story itself that takes the time to explore the idea of living someone else's life.
Dreaming Creek is a great first novel and a good book. If the idea the book presents fascinates you even a little I'd pick this one up. I look forward to what Ed Schubert writes next, as he's a extremely talented writer.
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