Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters, Volume One

The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters, Volume One

4.3 23
by Gordon Dahlquist

See All Formats & Editions

Here begins an extraordinary alliance—and a brutal and tender, shocking, and electrifying adventure to end all adventures.

It starts with a simple note. Roger Bascombe regretfully wishes to inform Celeste Temple that their engagement is forthwith terminated. Determined to find out why, Miss Temple takes the first step in a journey that


Here begins an extraordinary alliance—and a brutal and tender, shocking, and electrifying adventure to end all adventures.

It starts with a simple note. Roger Bascombe regretfully wishes to inform Celeste Temple that their engagement is forthwith terminated. Determined to find out why, Miss Temple takes the first step in a journey that will propel her into a dizzyingly seductive, utterly shocking world beyond her imagining—and set her on a collision course with a killer and a spy—in a bodice-ripping, action-packed roller-coaster ride of suspense, betrayal, and richly fevered dreams.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
Acclaimed director and playwright Gordon Dahlquist's unique debut novel is a shelf-bending (almost 800 pages!) tour de force that skillfully blends elements of historical mystery, suspense, romance/erotica, dark fantasy, and even science fiction.

Set in a world vaguely reminiscent of 19th-century Europe, the novel begins with a naïve would-be socialite named Celeste Temple receiving a letter from her fiancé, who informs her that their engagement is over. With no explanation whatsoever, her beau -- an up-and-coming figure in the Foreign Ministry named Roger Bascombe -- has regretfully ended the relationship and asked Miss Temple to never contact him again. The irrepressibly inquisitive Temple, however, decides to follow Bascombe after-hours and tails him to a remote country mansion, where she sneaks into a masquerade ball and witnesses young women -- apparently under the influence of a mysterious mind control device -- being violently assaulted and sexually brutalized. After barely escaping with her life, Temple eventually joins forces with a philosophical assassin and a royal doctor to try and somehow make sense of it all…

If Dahlquist's wildly ambitious debut were fast food, it would undoubtedly be supersized. Everything about The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters is massive -- from the daunting cast of characters to the multitude of subplots. Adventursome readers who like challenging story lines (like Hal Duncan's Vellum, Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, et al.) will surely enjoy this genre-transcendent novel; mystery and suspense fans looking for a quick read should look elsewhere for their literary kicks. Paul Goat Allen
Publishers Weekly
Debut novelist Dahlquist aims for a blockbuster with a mishmash of Sherlock Holmes, Jane Eyre and Eyes Wide Shut that never quite comes together. Three months after 25-year-old Celeste Temple travels from "her island" (a Bermuda-like place) plantation home to Victorian London, fiancé Roger Bascombe breaks their engagement. Driven more by curiosity than desire, she follows him from his job at the foreign ministry to Harschmort House, where, with little prodding, she quickly finds herself in silk undergarments at a ritual involving masked guests and two-way mirrors. Making her escape, Miss Temple (as she's called throughout) kills a henchman. Ceremony organizers pursue her as she pursues their secrets. Poetry-quoting assassin Cardinal Chang and diplomat Dr. Abelard Svenson come to her aid. Chang tries to save a half-Chinese prostitute; Abelard tries to save a governess named Elöise; Miss Temple discovers she is not the woman she thought she was, nor Roger the man she hoped for. Meanwhile, through science and alchemy, evildoers capture erotic memories and personal will in blue crystals. Dahlquist introduces so many characters, props and plot twists, near-death experiences and narrow escapes that the novel has the feel of a frantic R-rated classic comic book—if comics were arch. (Aug. 29)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal
After her fiance terminates their engagement-by letter, no less-Celeste dons a disguise and follows him to murky Harschmort Manor, where big surprises await. This Victorian thriller, playwright Dahlquist's fiction debut, has been sold to 26 countries. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A bloated, wildly fanciful Edgar Allan Poe-esque tale, seemingly set in Victorian London, follows a jilted young woman's plucky resolve to get to the bottom of her fiance's mysterious disappearance. Miss Celestial Temple, a young woman of respectable means, receives an incomprehensible letter at her hotel from her intended, Roger Bascombe, abruptly ending their engagement-and she decides to follow him. It proves quite an adventure, taking Miss Temple on a curious train ride and depositing her in a sumptuous house equipped with a theater in which she witnesses strangely erotic experiments on women, while Bascombe and others watch from the gallery. Giving her name as Isobel Hastings, she is coerced into a masked ball and nearly raped trying to escape before managing to make her way back to the city. Meanwhile, a certain shady Cardinal Chang, so-called because of his red topcoat and Asian appearance, is hired to knock off Colonel Arthur Trapping, commander of the 4th Dragoons, who is already dead and disfigured by the time Chang gets to him. Numerous characters become absorbed in Trapping's murder, such as Doctor Abelard Svenson, who acts as the ward of a young, profligate, weak-willed prince, Karl-Horst van Maasmarck, engaged to be married, for political reasons, to Lord Vandaariff's daughter, Lydia. The prince vanishes inexplicably, and the doctor finds in his rooms two glass cards, the size of calling cards, through which several notable characters, namely Bascombe, can be viewed in revealing and intimate moving images. The plot travels perilously tortuous paths, as together Doctor Svenson, Miss Temple and Chang track missing characters whose names keep changing to confound thedefenseless reader. They are lured back to the theater, where a cabal of dangerous men possesses glass books into which people drain their minds. Way, way over the top.

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Sold by:
Random House
Sales rank:
File size:
2 MB

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


From her arrival at the docks to the appearance of Roger's letter, written on crisp Ministry paper and signed with his full name, on her maid's silver tray at breakfast, three months had passed. On that morning, her poached eggs steaming their silver bowl (gelatinous, gleaming), Miss Temple had not seen Roger Bascombe for seven days. He had been called to Brussels. Then to the country house of his infirm uncle, Lord Tarr. Then he had been required at all hours by the Minister, and then by the Deputy Minister, and finally by a pressing request from a cousin desperate for discreet advice about matters of property and law. But then she found herself in the same tea shop as that same cousin-the over-fed, over-wigged Pamela—exactly when Roger was said to be soothing her distress. It was quite clear that Pamela's only source of disquiet was a less than ready supply of buns. Miss Temple began to feel tremulous. A day went by with no word at all. On the eighth day, at breakfast, she received the letter from Roger regretfully severing their engagement, closing with the politely expressed desire that she take pains to never contact nor see him in any way for the complete remainder of her days. It contained no other explanation.

Such rejection had quite simply never occurred to her. The manner of dismissal she barely noticed—indeed, it was just how she would have done such a thing (as in fact, she had, on multiple galling occasions)—but the fact of it was stinging. She had attempted to re-read the letter, but found her vision blurred—after a moment she realized she was in tears. She dismissed the maid and unsuccessfully attempted to butter a slice of toast. She placed the toast and her knife carefully on the table, stood, and then walked rather hurriedly to her bed, where she curled into a tight ball, the entirety of her small frame shaking with silent sobs.

For an entire day she remained indoors refusing all but the most bitter Lapsang Soochong, and even that watered down (without milk or lemon) into a thin, rusty beverage that managed to be both feeble and unpleasant. In the night she wept again, alone in the dark, hollow and unmoored, until her pillow was too damp to be borne. But by the next afternoon, her clear grey eyes ringed red and her sausage curls lank, waking in pallid winter light (a season quite new to the warm-blooded Miss Temple, who judged it objectively horrid), the bedding tangled about her, she was once more determined to be about her business, and brisk.

Her world had been changed—as she was willing to admit (she had a young lady's classical education) did happen in life—but it hardly meant she was obliged to be docile, for Miss Temple was only docile on the most extraordinary occasions. Indeed, she was considered by some a provincial savage if not an outright little monster, for she was not large, and was by inclination merciless. She had grown up on an island, bright and hot, in the shadow of slaves, and as she was a sensitive girl, it had marked her like a whip—though part of that marking was how very immune from whips she was, and would, she trusted, remain.

Miss Temple was twenty-five, old to be unmarried, but as she had spent some time disappointing available suitors on her island before being sent across the sea to sophisticated society, this was not necessarily held against her. She was as wealthy as plantations could make her, and sharp-witted enough to know that it was natural for people to care more for her money than for her person, and she did not take this point of materialist interest to heart. Indeed, she took very little to heart at all. The exception—though she found herself now hard-pressed to explain it, and though lacking explanations of any kind vexed her—was Roger.

Miss Temple had rooms at the Hotel Boniface, fashionable but not ridiculous, consisting of an outer parlor, an inner parlor, a dining room, a dressing room, a sleeping room, a room for her two maids, and a second dressing and sleeping room for her aged Aunt Agathe, who lived on a small plantation-derived stipend, and who generally alternated between meals and slumber but was enough respected to be a suitable chaperone, despite her lack of attention. Agathe, whom Miss Temple had only first met upon her disembarkation, was acquainted with the Bascombe family. Quite simply, Roger was the first man of reasonable status and beauty to whom Miss Temple had been introduced, and being a young woman of clarity and loyalty, she found no further reason to search. For his part, Roger gave every impression of finding her both pretty and delightful, and so they were engaged.

To all accounts it was a good match. Roger's expressed opinion aside, even those who found Miss Temple's directness difficult would admit to her adequate beauty. They would also happily admit to her wealth. Roger Bascombe was a rising figure in the Foreign Ministry, cresting the verge of palpable authority. He was a man who looked fine when well-dressed, displayed no flagrant vice, and who possessed more chin and less stomach than any the Bascombes had produced in two generations. Their time together had been brief but, to Miss Temple's experience, intense. They had shared a dizzying variety of meals, strolled through parks and galleries, gazed deeply into each other's eyes, exchanged tender kisses. All of this had been new to her, from the restaurants and the paintings (the scale and strangeness of which prompted Miss Temple to sit for several minutes with a hand pressed tightly over each eye), the variety of people, of smells, the music, the noise, the manners and all the new words, and further to the particular strength of Roger's fingers, his arm around her waist, his kindly chuckle—which even when she felt it came at her expense she strangely did not mind—and his own smells, of his soap, his hair oil, his tobacco, his days in meeting rooms amidst piles of thick documents and ink and wax and wood varnish and felt-topped tables, and finally the, to her mind, devastating mixture of sensations she derived from his delicate lips, his bristling side whiskers, and his warm searching tongue.

But by Miss Temple's next breakfast, though her face was blotched and swollen about the eyes, she met her eggs and toast with customary ferocity, and met the maid's timorous gaze just once with a narrow peremptory glance that served as a knife drawn across the throat of any speech, much less consolation. Agathe was still asleep. Miss Temple had been aware (from the husky, insistent, violet-scented breathing) that her aunt had lingered on the opposite side of her door through the day of her (as she now thought of it) Dark Retreat, but she wanted no part of that conversation either.

She launched herself out of the Boniface, wearing a simple but frankly quite flattering green and gold flowered dress, with green leather ankle boots and a green bag, walking crisply toward the district of expensive shops that filled the streets on the near bank of the river. She was not interested in actively buying anything, but had the idea that looking at the assembled goods of the city—of the world—making their way from so many different lands to this collection of shops might serve as a spur to new thinking about her own new state of affairs. With this in mind, she found herself eager, even restless, moving from stall to stall, her eyes roving without lingering over fabrics, carved boxes, glassware, hats, trinkets, gloves, silks, perfumes, papers, soaps, opera glasses, hairpins, feathers, beads, and lacquered items of all kinds. At no point did she actually stop, and sooner than she had imagined possible Miss Temple found herself on the district's other side, standing at the edge of St. Isobel's Square.

The day above her was a cloudy grey. She turned and retraced her steps, gazing still more intently into each exotic display, but never—if she herself were a fish—finding the item that would hook her attention into place. On the Boniface side again, she wondered exactly what she thought she was doing. How, if she was with clarity embracing her new sense of loss and redefinition, did nothing—not even an especially cunning lacquered duck—generate interest? Instead, at each object, she felt herself driven onward, prey to some nagging urge she could not name, toward some unknown prize. That she had no conscious idea what this prize might be irked her, but she took comfort from the implication that it did exist, and would be potent enough to alert her when it came into view.

So, with a resolute sigh, she crossed back through the shops for a third time, her attention entirely elsewhere, confident, as she crossed the square toward the nest of monumental white stone buildings that made up the government Ministries, that her interest was—in a word—disinterested. The matter lay not so much with the perceived faults of her own person, if any, nor the perceived superiority, if any, of a rival (whose identity she was, out of idle curiosity alone, in the back of her mind trying to guess), but merely that her own case was the best example at hand. Or was it the only example? Still, it did not mean she was troubled by it, or that she'd no perspective, or that for any future affections of the now-beyond-her Roger Bascombe she would give two pins.

Despite these absolutely rational thoughts, Miss Temple paused upon reaching the center of the square, and instead of continuing on to the buildings where Roger was undoubtedly even now at work, she sat on a wrought-metal bench and looked up at the enormous statue of St. Isobel at the square's center. Knowing nothing of the sainted martyr and in no way devout, Miss Temple was merely disquieted by its vulgar extravagance: a woman clinging to a barrel in surging surf, clothes torn, hair wild, ringed by the flotsam of shipwreck, with the water about her churned to froth by a roiling tangle of serpents that wrapped around her flailing limbs, coiled under her garments and wound across her throat even as she opened her mouth to cry to heaven—a cry one saw to be heard by a pair of angels, winged, robed, and impassively gazing down from above Isobel's head. Miss Temple appreciated enough the size of the thing and the technical achievements involved, but it nevertheless struck her as coarse and unlikely. Shipwreck, as an island girl, she could accept, as she could martyrdom by snakes, but the angels seemed fatiguingly presumptuous.

Of course, as she looked into the unseeing stone eyes of the forever serpent-beset Isobel, she knew she could have scarcely cared less. Her gaze finally followed her true interest, toward the nest of white buildings, and so, quickly, she formed a plan, and with each step of that plan, a perfectly sound justification. She accepted that she was forever divided from Roger—persuasion and reunion were no part of her aims. What she sought, what she in fact required, was information. Was it strict rejection alone—that Roger would rather be alone than be burdened with her? Was it a matter of personal ambition—that she must be shunted aside in favor of promotion and responsibility? Was there simply another woman who had supplanted her in his affections? Or was there something else that she could not presently imagine? They were all equal in her mind, of neutral emotional value, but crucial as far as Miss Temple's ability to situate herself in her new loss-inflected existence.

It would be simple enough to follow him. Roger was a man of habits, and even when his hours of work were irregular he would still take his mid-day meal, whenever he did take it, at the same restaurant. Miss Temple found an antiquarian book shop across the street where, as she was obliged to purchase something for standing so long watching through its window, she on impulse selected a complete four-volume Illustrated Lives of Sea Martyrs. The books were detailed enough to warrant her spending the time in the window, apparently examining the colored plates, while actually watching Roger first enter and then, after an hour, re-emerge, alone, from the heavy doors across the street. He walked straight back into the Ministry courtyard. Miss Temple arranged for her purchase to be delivered to the Boniface, and walked back into the street, feeling like a fool.
She had re-crossed the square before her reason convinced her that she was not so much a fool as an inexperienced observer. It was pointless to watch from outside the restaurant. It was only from inside that she could have determined whether or not Roger dined alone, or with others, or with which particular others, with any of whom he might have shared significant words—all crucial information. Further, unless he had merely thrown her over for his work—which she doubted, scoffing—she was like to learn nothing from observing his working day. It was after work, obviously, that any real intelligence would be gathered. Abruptly, for by this time she was across the square and in the midst of the shops, she entered a store whose windows were thick with all shapes of luggage, hampers, oilskins, gaiters, pith helmets, lanterns, telescopes, and a ferocious array of walking sticks. She emerged some time later, after exacting negotiations, wearing a ladies' black traveling cloak, with a deep hood and several especially cunning pockets. A visit to another shop filled one pocket with opera glasses, and a visit to a third weighed down a second pocket with a leatherbound notebook and an all-weather pencil. Miss Temple then took her tea.

Between cups of Darjeeling and two scones slathered with cream she made opening entries in the notebook, prefacing her entire endeavor and then detailing the day's work so far. That she now had a kind of uniform and a set of tools made everything that much easier and much less about her particular feelings, for tasks requiring clothes and accoutrements were by definition objective, even scientific, in nature. In keeping with this, she made a point to write her entries in a kind of cipher, replacing proper names and places with synonyms or word-play that hopefully would be impenetrable to all but herself (all references to the Ministry were to "Minsk" or even just "Russia", and Roger himself—in a complex train of thought that started with him as a snake that had shed his skin, to a snake being charmed by the attractions of others, to India, and finally, because of his still-remarkable personal presence—became "the Rajah"). Against the possibility that she might be making her observations for some time and in some discomfort, she ordered a sausage roll for later. It was placed on her table, wrapped in thick waxed paper, and presently bundled into another pocket of her cloak.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Meet the Author

Gordon Dahlquist is a native of the Pacific Northwest, where he worked for several years writing and directing plays. Since 1988 he has lived in New York. He has been a member of New Dramatists, is a New York Theatre Workshop Usual Suspect, and a founding member of the CiNE. His works include Messalina (Evidence Room, Los Angeles: SPF, New York), text for Babylon Is Everywhere: A Court Masque (CiNE, Schaeberle Theatre; Theatre Magazine), Delirium Palace (Evidence Room, Los Angeles; published in Breaking Ground), The Secret Machine (Twilight Theatre Company at Solo Rep), Vortex du Plaisir (Ice Factory ’99 Festival at the Ohio Theatre, WKCR’S Manhattan Theatre of the Air), Island of Dogs (4th Street Theatre), Severity’s Mistress (Soho Rep Theatre, New York University; winner of Primary stages’ Bug &Bub award), Mission Byzantium! (American Globe Theatre, NYTW’s Just Add Water Festival), and Reitcence (Horace Mann Theatre).

He has written and directed several experimental films, that have been selected for the San Francisco International Film Festival, the Seattle International Film Festival, and the Northwest Film and Video Film Festival. He is a graduate of Reed College and Columbia University’s School of the Arts. He has received two Garland Playwriting Awards for Messalina and Delirium Palace.

The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters is his first novel.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters, Volume 1 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Kitten-on-the-Keys More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book immensely. It is an intense, non-stop-action-packed, dark opium dream of a Steampunk adventure, with thrills, chills, and a breakneck pacing that leaves you gasping along with each of the three protagonists. The book switches at several times between the points of view of the three protagonists, but it works since the author stays with each character for roughly a third of the book, so it's more of a focused, 'And meanwhile, this is what was going on with this other character many miles away', than a nervous jumping back and forth. A nice addition to the genre.
pinkb More than 1 year ago
This is an exciting and edge of the seat, intelligent story. The characters are well developed and thought out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Be sure to buy both volumes if you want the paperbacks. The first one will leave you grasping for the second. Most defintely the best book(s) I've read in a long time. Complex, sexy, exciting and mysterious.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Blender-P More than 1 year ago
This was an excellent and complex story. The characters are compelling and you definitely grow to feel for them and the world building is done in a way that is very immersive and doesn't pull you out of the story. I've read the entire series and really enjoyed seeing the evolution of Celeste and you should definitely do as another reviewer suggested and get both volume 1 & 2 to read in a stretch. I also highly recommend the 2 other books in the series, The Dark Volume (which B&N does have), and The Chemikal Marriage (which B&N does not have) as they do an excellent job of wrapping things up.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very strange. Very entertaining. It was different from anything I have ever read before. This book stands alone. Good work Mr. Dahlquist.
LovelyLindaLush More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book. I saw this book a few times before I actually bought it and was intrigued and confused by the title. I wasn't sure if I liked the jumping around between naratives at first, but as the story unfolds it's obvious why Dahlquist wrote it that way. I felt it was organically imaginative and creative, unlike the recycled storylines of many modern novels. The characters were well-developed and interesting. You have to have a decent imagination to even be interested in what this book has to offer. But, I doubt you'll be disappointed with what you find.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago