Thursday, July 11, 2019

Mini-Review: The Dreaming and The Girls at Kingfisher Club

The Dreaming (2018-) Vol. 1: Pathways and EmanationsThe Dreaming, Vol. 1: Pathways and Emanations by Simon Spurrier, Bilquis Evely, Mat Lopes
Publication: June 11th, 2019
Paperback. 200 pages.

About The Dreaming:
"One of four books expanding Neil Gaiman's acclaimed Sandman Universe. There is a place where gods are born and stories are spun. Today its walls lie slashed and bleeding. Twenty-three years after he was anointed as its master, the lord of dreams has inexplicably abandoned his domain. 

Lord Daniel's absence triggers a series of crimes and calamities that consume the lives of those already tangled in his fate. Until he is found, his realm's residents must protect its broken borders alone. But the most senior storytellers are tormented by invasive secrets, the warden Lucien is doubting his own mind, and beyond the gates, something horrific awaits with tooth and talon. Only Dora, the monstrous, finds opportunity in madness, stealing dreams for the highest bidder. But she has no idea how deep the danger lies. Meanwhile, in Daniel's gallery, something new is growing..."

I'm a huge fan of the Sandman series by Neil Gaiman, so anything Sandman-related is naturally going to call out to me. I was excited to hear about the world of Sandman expanding with some new content written by new authors and illustrators, though I did have some reservations since these projects would be in new hands. Although I didn't love this new addition as much as I hoped, I still found it to be a solid expansion of the world and the start of what seems to be a promising new storyline.

One of my favorite things about this volume was easily the illustrations. The colors and vibrancy, the way the characters are depicted and have such distinct styles and personalities, and the layout of the panels all really grabbed me and made this a high quality and highly enjoyable story. It's clear that these new stories still hold plenty of the same magic as the original series and still seems to have a solid goal in mind.

The main areas that I had issues had to do more with the plot and how it was executed. The overarching storyline is one that initially intrigues me--Lord Daniel has disappeared and the realm is struggling and literally cracking apart--but the other details and side plots were slightly distracting and not quite as engaging. I found some of the elements, for lack of a better word, rather tedious and I found myself sort of just plowing through until I reached the next more engaging part. However, I enjoyed meeting Dora, an unpredictable and rather gifted individual, and am excited to see what the creators decide to do with her character. I also loved seeing old friends, such as Merv and Lucien, though I was disappointed in much of the latter's role in this story.

Overall, I've given The Dreaming 3.75 stars! This volume had a lot of potential and despite its rocky start, I think these new additions to the Sandman universe could be a lot of fun. 

The Girls at the Kingfisher ClubThe Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine
Atria Books
Publication Date: June 3rd, 2014
Hardcover. 277 pages.

About The Girls at the Kingfisher Club:
"From award-winning author Genevieve Valentine, a "gorgeous and bewitching" (Scott Westerfeld) reimagining of the fairytale of the Twelve Dancing Princesses as flappers during the Roaring Twenties in Manhattan. 

Jo, the firstborn, "The General" to her eleven sisters, is the only thing the Hamilton girls have in place of a mother. She is the one who taught them how to dance, the one who gives the signal each night, as they slip out of the confines of their father's townhouse to await the cabs that will take them to the speakeasy. Together they elude their distant and controlling father, until the day he decides to marry them all off. 

The girls, meanwhile, continue to dance, from Salon Renaud to the Swan and, finally, the Kingfisher, the club they come to call home. They dance until one night when they are caught in a raid, separated, and Jo is thrust face-to-face with someone from her past: a bootlegger named Tom whom she hasn't seen in almost ten years. Suddenly Jo must weigh in the balance not only the demands of her father and eleven sisters, but those she must make of herself."

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club is a book that I've had sitting on my shelf for a few years, always with the intention of picking it up, but somehow I never did. I finally decided to change that and read it and now I'm kicking myself for not having read it earlier!  This is a beautiful reimagining of the "Twelve Dancing Princesses", and though I've only read the original fairytale once many years ago, I still found this to be an imaginative and highly compelling take on the story.

The prose of this book is of a rather literary nature and has a lovely rhythm attached to it that makes the narrative feel as light and ethereal as the twelve dancing daughters in the story. This isn't a story that feels particularly happy or hopeful on the surface--or even under the surface--but there is a strange layer of optimism somewhere in the middle that follows each girl as she learns how to travel with her sisters to club to dance the night away and forget about the monotonous, trapped life they lead at home.

It was difficult at first to remember all of the daughters and form a connection with any of them, but somehow over the course of the story each and every one became dear to me and I felt emotionally connected to their lives and experiences growing up in such a stilted and solitary manner. I also absolutely loved the setting of this story and how well Valentine captured the 1920s Prohibition era, which was full of underground clubs, clubs being regularly raided, and the changes that followed women as they gradually became freer and more liberated in society--a slow process, but one that was still very much present. This book was all about atmosphere and I easily fell headfirst into this world.

I loved how Valentine told this story and am now anxious to check out more of her work, as I'm sure I will fall in with them if they hold any similarities in style to this one. Overall, I've given The Girls at the Kingfisher Club 4.25 stars and highly recommend this to anyone that enjoys retellings and/or beautifully atmospheric stories!


  1. I've been curious about The Girls at the Kingfisher Club, and I had no idea it was a Twelve Dancing Princesses retelling!

    1. It is and it's wonderful, I really thought it was a great retelling. :)

  2. The 1920s is such a fun era, and The Girls at Kingfisher Club sounds like an awesome story!