Guest Review by Kerry Hartjen
You know how it is: sometimes, you’re just in the mood for a good alien seduction story. That’s why the premise of Brenda Sparks’ “Weaver of Dreams” caught my interest immediately. “Weaver of Dreams” is the story of a young woman who is being tormented in her dreams by a life-draining “Dream Stalker” from another dimension, and a handsome, manly (though not human) Energy Being is sent from the same other dimension to protect the woman and kill the Dream Stalker. What more could you ask for?
I began reading this fantasy/sci-fi/horror/suspense/thriller/alien romance novel with high hopes. I was delighted to find far fewer typos, grammatical errors and other mechanical problems than have plagued many of the indie-published books I have read lately, and I counted this as a major plus. I was grateful for the attention to those little details.
Unfortunately, however, I found it difficult to become involved in the story.
I immediately had trouble empathizing with the main character, Maggie. She’s a guidance counselor at a high school, and for the most part I felt that the author handled this part of Maggie’s life reasonably well. But Maggie is also severely sleep-deprived, has a mean, vengeful ex-lover for a boss, is under tons of pressure at work, suffers from a paralyzing public speaking phobia, has terrible eating habits, is being stalked in her sleep by an evil alien, and has no personal life to speak of.
With all of those things on her mind, I just couldn’t believe that the only thing she can seem to think about is having sex with Zane, an imaginary being from another dimension.
Zane’s superiors – who reminded me of the subway-dwelling Mensa mutants at the end of “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” – have sent him into Maggie’s world to kill the Dream Stalker that has violated their version of a prime directive. He is the white knight riding to Maggie’s rescue, the romantic interest, and the hero. Yet his behavior towards her is more like that of a Peeping Tom, his manner condescending, possessive and patronizing. Here is an excerpt from one of the early scenes in which he secretly watches Maggie while she sleeps:
“One of the woman’s legs now peeked out from under the quilted comforter. Her dainty foot flexed slightly in her sleep to draw his attention… Before his mind registered his intention, his hand stroked the smooth skin of her calf. He felt the warmth of her skin on the pads of his fingers. They moved up her leg in a slow glide, allowing him to savor the softness of her skin.”
To me, this is more creepy than romantic or erotic. I mean, this woman is asleep. She’s totally vulnerable and unaware that her home has been invaded and that she’s being fondled by some voyeur from another dimension. Zane is supposed to be the Good Guy, but his actions are just as predatory as the Dream Stalker’s.
To make matters worse, not only is our hero engaging in inappropriate touching – it turns out that Maggie’s into it. I could not understand why this professional, strong, intelligent and independent young woman would think that what he’s doing to her is okay. Better than okay, in fact.
There is a lot of daydreaming about sex, thinking about sex, and talking about sex in this book, which is fine. But the actual sex, when it eventually happens, seems forced and artificial. The tongue-sucking scenes are more amusingly gross than erotic, with Maggie and Zane apparently competing to see whose tongue can drill down to the other one’s duodenum first: “His tongue danced with hers in a sensual waltz. Each pass by his tongue a thorough examination, he left no part of her mouth unexplored.” And later, “Their tongues danced between their mouths, each seeking dominance.”
Sex scenes are very hard to write convincingly. They are the quicksand of romance writing. The thing is, I think that if the characters of Maggie and Zane been more substantially and believably written, all of that passionate lust they share could have been conveyed without the need for scenes of dancing tongues probing into damp nasal cavities.
Eventually, they do get beyond the tongue wrestling. But I was never sure if what they were having was real sex, dream sex, or hallucinated sex. I could never figure that out.
I also couldn’t figure out why the author would suddenly introduce a previously unheard of and conveniently psychotic major character, along with a new subplot, 80 pages into the story. It was like starting to read a whole different book. And then, 40 pages later, there is yet another new character – Maggie’s friend since high school, the person she always calls first “when things get rough”. If that’s true, then where has this person been for the last 119 pages?
Things like this bother me as a reader because they seem to happen for no other reason than that the author needed them to happen in order to get to the next chapter. I feel tricked, somehow, and that makes me not care about what happens anymore. If I feel tricked too many times, I lose interest and stop reading, which is what I did halfway through this book on page 125.
The idea behind “Weaver of Dreams” was a good one, and Brenda Sparks definitely has skill as a writer. I just wish she had devoted more of her talent to giving her characters greater depth and dimension, and spent less time describing their oral fixations.
The bottom line, for me, is that there wasn’t enough substance here to sustain an entire novel. It may have worked a lot better as a short story or novella, but there were too many repetitive passages, mechanical sex scenes, and not enough character development to maintain my interest beyond the halfway mark.
About the Author
Brenda Sparks has always loved all things spooky and enjoys incorporating paranormal elements in her writing. She refuses to allow pesky human constraints to get in the way of telling the story. Luckily the only thing limiting her stories is her imagination. Her characters are strong, courageous, and she adores spending time with them in their imaginary world.
In real life, she is married to a loving, supportive husband and together they have one grown son who has brought much joy to their lives. Her idea of a perfect day is one spent in front of a computer with a hot cup of coffee, her fingers flying over the keys to send her characters off on their latest adventure. Follow her on Goodreads, Twitter, or her website.
About the Reviewer
Kerry Hartjen is a retired magician/clown/playwright who has recently returned to pursuing the life of a writer. He has had poetry, short stories and nonfiction published in “RipRap”, “The Journal of the San Juan Islands”, and more recently at www.helium.com . Two of his one-act plays were produced at The Uprising Theatre in Long Beach, CA and his full-length musical comedy “Little Red Riding Hood, The Musical… Sort Of” was commissioned by and produced at The New Wharf Theater in Monterey, CA. He is a graduate of The Hollywood Scriptwriting Institute and was a script reader for the Monterey Film Commission Screenwriting festival for three years. His blog can be found at: www.raviolithewriter.com .