The Dream Runner is the first of three e-novellas — the others are The Dream Thief and The Dream Wars — released this year by my real-life writer-friend Kerry Schafer, to keep her fans occupied while we wait for Wakeworld, the sequel to her novel Between, to come out in January. There are no obvious links to the Between series in the Dream Wars novellas except that in both series, dreams are far more than incoherent images your subconscious fires off while you’re asleep. The Dream Wars books are set very firmly and believably in our own world, but in this version of reality, you can order the dreams you want from a shadowy figure called the Dream Merchant. Jesse, once a teenaged runaway, has become a Dream Runner — someone who takes orders for the dreams people want and delivers them. When the past reaches out an unexpected hand to tug her back to the hometown she left in a hurry ten years ago, her work for the Dream Merchant becomes horribly entwined with her own life and the lives of people she once cared about. That’s the catalyst that sets into the motion the events of three fast-paced novellas.
Jesse is an engaging heroine, not always easy to like but perhaps easy to identify with. She’s been badly hurt in the past and has developed a lot of defenses to protect herself. When all hell breaks loose in the world of dreams, Jesse begins to realize how destructive her own coping mechanisms are in the real world, too — but it may be too late to change any of that. My only disappointment in this highly readable series is that I had somehow assumed, because they were released as a trilogy, that the story would be concluded when the third novella was over. However, the ending of The Dream Wars left most of the important plot threads still dangling and ended with a teaser telling me to look out for more stories from the world of the Dream Wars. Hope I don’t have to wait too long!