Lucy 's Reviews > The Dream-Maker's Magic

The Dream-Maker's Magic by Sharon Shinn
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's review
Aug 14, 08

bookshelves: fantasy
Read in August, 2008

When Kellen was born, her mother was sure she was a boy, and she has never stopped believing that she gave birth to a son. So Kellen always dressed in boy’s clothing and did boy activities. She was always the odd one one—never quite a boy, never quite a girl.

Until she met Gryffin. Gryffin, with his twisted legs and sharp mind, didn’t see a boy or a girl—he just saw Kellen. And from the first day she sat with him, Kellen stopped seeing the crippled legs and just saw her best friend.

Life isn’t easy for Kellen or Gryffin—Kellen crippled by her mother’s madness and lack of acceptance, Gryffin crippled both by his legs and the hateful uncle he lived with. But they make each other their family, and together, they thrive. And then, just as their relationship is beginning to blossom into something else entirely, everything changes again.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—the joy of these books isn’t the gripping plot. The reason I love these books is because there is nothing else like them out there. Jo Walton once talked about the shape of lives being more important and compelling that fighting wizards or dragons (over here: In a perfect little snippet of a poem, she wrote:

You say there are no stories in happiness
only the fire burning, the bucket in the well,
the wind in the gables, the crops ripening.
You try to tell those stories and they fall in your hands
into unpatterned incident. The shape of doing
again what was done before is not story-shape
though you have tried and come close.

Stop and be quiet. Listen to the rustling.
Stop looking for invasions and evil wizards.
Until you can see the shapes that life makes
ripening into stories worth your telling
the words that you say are only air
and neither life nor stories have the value
your words say you set upon them.

These lovely little bits show the story in bucket in the well, the crops ripening. These stories are not epic—they’re small. They encompass the span of small village lives. Though world affairs sometimes intrude on the edges of these stories, they are not about global crises—they are about living in a small village with an abusive uncle, or trying to figure out who you are when your own mother is confused about your gender. They are about being a friend.

As one of the characters says in the book, “Kindness is a form of magic. So everyone should be capable of at least a little.”

This is a very quiet book that feels important. It feels like it matters because it’s not about world affairs—it’s about the things that are most important to us—falling in love, getting married, having children, making a living, having friends.

And like the two previous books, the loose ends all get wrapped up neatly—but not in a saccharine way at all. It all fits. It all makes sense. It all feels right.

Don’t read this if you’re looking for high adventure, or for something Important. But if you want to read a fantasy that feels genuine, that feels like it could be true—this is the book for you.

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