Monday, 14 January 2013

The Dream Dealer by Marita Phillips

Sometimes a book comes along that stands out from the crowd with its intelligence, style and subject matter. Sally Gardner's Maggot Moon is one - and it's gone on to win the Costa Prize. Another, which has been around for a while and yet hasn't received the attention it deserves, is Marita Phillips' The Dream Dealer, published by a small imprint, Neve Press.

It follows Finn, a lonely boy with only a pet mouse, Hercules, for company, whose mother is missing. A sinister figure known as the Dream Dealer arrives at the school gates one day, selling "Ice-Dreams", which put you in "a large multi-coloured bubble." The children become addicted to the visions they receive; the Dealer has a more sinister purpose, accompanied by a weird Earth Imp. Phillips' writing is elegant and full of striking images; the book draws you in gently, wrapping you completely in its imagined world. It's aware of myths and the power of myth-making; and, crucially, of how dreams are important, but ultimately are only dreams. It is reality and its relationships which are the more beautiful. A fine, darkling book which will charm and intrigue.

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