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Formats
Paperback Book Details
  • 10/2018
  • 9780692040072
  • 188 pages
  • $7.99
The Fall of Dreams
Ryan LaSalle, author

Children/Young Adult; Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror; (Market)

Ten-year-old Peter is a prisoner of his imagination so much so that he cannot sleep. Afraid of witches, monsters, and the dark, he soon finds himself taken to a place where his imaginings come true—a mysterious autumn world filled with eccentric characters and hungry witches. Now, the only way to escape and find home, is to follow the clues of this strange world and confront his fears.
Reviews
Peter Engel is a very tired fifth-grader. Avoiding sleep because he’s haunted by hyperrealistic dreams, all he can do is doze through class. After another disappointing appointment with the school district psychologist, Peter runs away into the woods with his new friend Sarah, and they discuss dreams and other scary things. Later that night, flying monkeys steal Peter away. After escaping, he stumbles upon a woodcarver and his assistant, who live in a treehouse, and they offer him a place there too. He begins to make a new life, chopping wood and hunting witches as memories of his past quickly fade away. But in the back of his mind, something feels off—and Peter is drawn to a vague dream of another home.

This novel is an autumnal treasure. Peter spends most of the story in the world of the woods, where his motley crew eats vegetable stew, carves giant jack-o’-lanterns, and waits for the day when they’ll travel to Amberville to sell the woodcarver’s wares. There’s a Wonderland feel to it all, enhanced by the woodcarver’s three-foot-tall assistant Master Keys and a chatty squirrel. A horror component heightens tension as well: oily, rancid, child-eating witches threaten Peter and his friends, leading one to a bloody end at Peter’s hand.

Scenes of mild violence are interspersed with tender moments of friendship and hope, leading readers to cheer for Peter. Peter doesn’t come to understand the world he’s in or why he’s there until almost the end of the story; although this will keep readers guessing, they may also wonder why characters introduced earlier are important or what’s actually real. But that element of suspense adds flavor to Peter’s spooky trek. LaSalle has written a dreamy harvest story that will haunt and delight.

Takeaway: Imaginative middle grade readers and fall fanatics will be charmed and spooked by LaSalle’s modern fairy-tale adventure.

Great for fans of: Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, Roald Dahl’s The Witches.

Production grades
Cover: C+
Design and typography: A-
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: B+
Marketing copy: B-

Formats
Paperback Book Details
  • 10/2018
  • 9780692040072
  • 188 pages
  • $7.99

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