When Jessica Drake learned that her DNA didn't match that of her parents, she had no idea that the search for her heritage would put her family's lives in danger, or force her to cross into another world. In an alternate Earth dominated by individuals with unnatural powers called Gifts, Jessica learned that there was a curse within her blood, one so feared that all who possessed it were destroyed on sight. For she was a Dreamwalker, and the same dark Gift that would allow her to enter the dreams of others would eventually destroy her mind and spread insanity to all those around her.
Now she is back with her family, but there is no peace to be found. Her childhood home has been destroyed, her mother's mind is irreparably damaged, and the Gift of the Dreamwalkers is beginning to manifest in her in terrifying ways.
When a stranger invades her dreams and creatures from her nightmares threaten to cross into the waking universe, Jessica knows she must return to the alternate Earth where she was born and seek allies... even if doing so means she must bargain with those she fears the most.
Dreamseeker is the gripping sequel to C.S. Friedman's Dreamwalker.
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BACKLIT BY A BLAZING ORANGE SUNSET, the floating rabbit was an eerie sight. The dappled forest shadows made the snare almost invisible, so that it looked as if the small body was levitating of its own accord, and as it swayed back and forth in the breeze it appeared more ghostly than real.
With a quick and practiced motion, the wanderer known as the Green Man freed the dead rabbit and tucked it into his game pouch. Then he reset his snare.
It was Sebastian’s third catch of the night. All had been young animals, without much meat on their bones, but that was to be expected this time of year. Summer’s offspring were so busy exulting in their new existence that they rarely saw the snare’s fine line strung across their path. The older ones tended to be more circumspect.
With a sigh he settled the strap of the game pouch on his shoulder, ready to return home. The pressure of the thick leather band across his chest conjured an unexpected sensory memory, from a time when the pouch at his hip had contained not freshly killed meat, but black powder cartridges arranged in neat rows. He remembered how their newsprint wrappings had tasted as he used his teeth to tear them open, spitting out bits of blackened paper as he fed explosive powder into the mouth of his musket. A ravenous beast, that weapon. Always wanting more.
Memories from another world, another time.
The hike back to his new base camp was a long one, and by the time he reached it the sunlight was nearly gone.
I should have gone to Shadowcrest with them, he thought.
Not a night passed that he didn’t think about the three young people from his homeworld, or regret that he had sent them to face the Shadows alone. Yes, it had seemed the logical choice to make at the time—the only rational choice, one might argue—but that didn’t make it any easier to accept. Once, long ago, he had failed to protect his own child, and she had died as a result. Now these young people had needed him, and he had abandoned them.
I was a prisoner in Shadowcrest once, he reminded himself. There are wards all over the place that no doubt are still attuned to my presence. Had I remained with Jessica and her friends, I would have triggered those alarms. The only chance they had to sneak past the Shadows’ security was to go in without me.
Such a thing might indeed be true. But guilt was a visceral torment, not so easily banished.
What happened to the teens from Terra Colonna after he had parted company with them? He knew that the Blue Ridge Gate had been destroyed—even the Shadows couldn’t keep something that big a secret—but his informants had been unable to bring him any specifics on the matter. Had Jessica and her friends made it back to their own world, or remained trapped in this one? Or worse yet, had they become lost in that place between the worlds that all sane men feared? He might have been trapped in that nightmare realm himself, had he tried to cross over with them.
As he approached his camp the trees began to thin out, and the dirt beneath his feet gave way to patches of naked stone, windswept and lifeless. From here he could see the opening of the crevice he now called home, a deep black gash in the mountainside. The cave that he’d located halfway up one of its walls wasn’t the most luxurious shelter, but these days caution trumped comfort. He didn’t think the Colonnans would tell anyone about him, but the local boy they’d been travelling with was a wild card. And if Jessica and her friends were taken prisoner, their willingness to talk would cease to be a significant factor. Both the Seers and the Domitors had the means of squeezing secrets from a human mind, and if the Shadows decided to question the teens, their methods did not bear thinking about.
He had almost been at the receiving end of those methods, once.
What was the name of the local boy who’d been travelling with them? Isaac? So pale, that one. So haunted. The edge in the boy’s voice when he’d asked Sebastian about a murdered Shadowlord had been unmistakable, but what exactly was Isaac’s connection to that secretive Guild? Clearly he was not a Shadow himself: no one born to that Guild would have been allowed to wander the world without supervision as he was doing. But his family might have business ties to a Shadowlord, or perhaps some sort of political alliance, that gave Isaac a vested interest in the undead. So did he seek out the Shadows after he left Sebastian, and tell them what he’d learned about the Green Man? Did he tell them that the possible murderer of a Shadowlord was hiding out in Victoria Forest, and might be located by following the trail of dead vegetation he left in his wake?
It wasn’t the truth, exactly. But Sebastian doubted that would matter to the Shadowlords.
I should have killed the boy when I had the chance, he thought. But even in the midst of war he’d had no stomach for killing innocents, and the boy had done nothing to harm him. Not to mention Isaac had helped the three Colonnans escape from the Warrens, so that Sebastian could meet them. That deserved a better answer than death.
I saved his life as well as theirs, he reminded himself. Hopefully that will earn his silence.
There were just too many variables in play. Even for a man who thrived on mysteries, it was an uncomfortable situation. So he had broken camp after they left and moved to a place that was naturally barren, where his curse would not give him away. It was a desolate, unpleasant location, but its inherent lifelessness would mask his presence.
Maybe I should leave this forest altogether.
How long had he been here, anyway? Ten years? More? True, Victoria Forest was only a base of operations—his endless search for information kept him constantly on the move—but there was danger in remaining anywhere too long. Maybe it was time to move on.
Suddenly he saw something on the ground ahead of him, a mark imprinted in a narrow strip of soil. The fading sunlight made it hard to see, so he had to squat down low to be able to make out its details.
A paw print. Wolf sign.
Larger than any natural paw print should be.
He drew out his knife and quickly rose to his feet—but it was already too late. Something massive burst from the forest with unnatural speed and barreled into him from behind, sending him crashing to the ground. Only by thrusting both hands out in front of him could he keep from smashing his head into bare rock, but in doing that he lost hold of his knife. Now he had only his hands, his wits, and a thick leather coat to protect him from the beast’s assault.
He could feel the great wolf’s jaws closing around his neck, trying to crush his windpipe, and he barely managed to evade them; dagger-like teeth pierced the heavy collar of his coat, coming within a hair’s breadth of tearing out a chunk of his neck. The beast jerked back with a growl of rage, ready to try again. But this time Sebastian was ready. He twisted around and elbowed it on the side of its head, hard enough to stun it for a second, then managed to reach out and grab his knife: long and sharp and tempered in the blood of bears and mountain lions and men, it had never failed him.
Now they both were armed.
The wolf lunged for his throat again but he twisted lithely out of its way, and all it got this time was a mouthful of coat lapel. It jerked its head back and forth wildly, tearing at the garment as if it was raw flesh. Sebastian’s fettered brooches broke loose and flew in every direction while he thrust at the creature, aiming for its gut, but the wolf’s wild movements skewed his aim, and he sliced into its shoulder instead. As the beast’s hot blood splattered everywhere Sebastian yanked his blade free, bracing himself for the next attack.
Then he looked into the wolf’s eyes, sensed the cold human intelligence behind them, and he knew that this was more than a simple attack.
He stabbed at the animal again, but instead of renewing its attack the wolf backed away, leaving Sebastian’s blade to slice through empty air. He had misjudged the thing: it didn’t want to kill him, only force him to the ground and scatter his protective fetters beyond reach. Dark figures rushed in from all sides—four? six? eight?—and though they were human in shape they were bestial in their ferocity. Sebastian struggled to get to his feet before they had a chance to engage him, but there was no time. No time. The fetters that might have helped him escape glittered on the ground surrounding them, reflecting the last of the sunlight in tiny points of fire. Even the nearest ones were hopelessly out of reach.
The ambush had been well planned.
Excerpted from "Dreamseeker"
Copyright © 2016 C.S. Friedman.
Excerpted by permission of DAW.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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What People are Saying About This
"The fast pace and younger protagonist will make this an obvious crossover book for YA readers, appealing...to those teens (and adults) who enjoy Cassandra Clare." —Library Journal (for Dreamwalker)
"Friedman skillfully blends science fiction and fantasy elements, tying them together with fairy tales and solid worldbuilding." —Publisher's Weekly (for Dreamwalker)
"Friedman does many things well in this novel, and her experience as an engaging storyteller is on full display.... Friedman shows that her writing and storytelling abilities are strong, regardless of what type of story she’s telling." —Tor.com (for Dreamwalker)
"Dreamwalker is nerve-twisting and fascinating. Siblings Jesse and Tommy are tangled in a murderous genetic bait-and-switch that transcends worlds and time.... Waiting for the next book will be tough!" —Tamora Pierce (for Dreamwalker)
"[C.S. Friedman] writes bright, clear prose that can shine like gemstones or cut like broken glass. If you haven’t read her work you need to do something about that right now." —Tad Williams (for Dreamwalker)
"Once again, CS Friedman shows us strong characters and innovative magic that transcend genre. Dreamwalker is a satisfying read for long-time fans, but will also serve to showcase her work to a whole new generation." —Peter V. Brett (for Dreamwalker)
"This is more mature, more serious, and a bit darker than I’m used to young adult books being, but that’s also a huge reason why I loved it.... This might be the first young adult book I’ve ever read that absolutely captivated me." —Bookworm Blues (for Dreamwalker)
"While everyone is taking about Joe Abercrombie, Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, and many others, C. S. Friedman wrote one of the very best—and perhaps the best—fantasy series of the new millennium." —Pat's Fantasy Hotlist (for Friedman)