The Archipelago of Dreams: The Island of the Dream Healeris an allegorical spiritual journey from the real world into a spirit world where the idea of reality is challenged. Robert's voyage begins as a road trip with his family in Wisconsin, but he ends up crossing a darkened lake and falling into the Otherworld of the Spirit of Man. He leaves his body behind, allowing his spirit to travel freely with the guidance of a wizard mentor. The balance that keeps humankind from destroying itself has been fatally tipped. Robert is our only hope for survival. He must search for a Healer who can correct the imbalance before it's too late.
R.J. Cole takes elements from Celtic, Native American, and symbolic fantasy to tell the story. Many cultures utilize Waking Dreams as a way to explore beyond the physical realm into the realm of internal discovery and transformation. It also challenges what we consider reality and continually pushing beyond the limits of the concrete into something more than physical existence. Then it also has the societal implication that even though we are imperfect beings that we have more of an impact on this world than we realize. We chase a star where a star should not be and really it is in us all along where it should be. All we need to learn is to recognize and allow it to shine forth.
It's very different from other books I have read. It's not a true fantasy in the traditional sense. Allegory would be the closest thing I could relate it too, but that doesn't seem to describe it precisely either. Think of it as someone describing a dream in the first person, but more substantial, more detailed, more action orientated than that.
It had a nice flow to it, well edited, and it kept me interested for the most part. The only criticism I have is towards the end. I won't go into too much detail. But in the second to last chapter he lingers too long and it didn't jibe with the urgency of getting back home. It was the only place where I felt a disconnection with the character. Wouldn't he be anxious to get back home to his family?
Other than that little snag the rest of it was interesting and I would recommend it to a certain type of reader. Not everyone is going to like it. Those that are hard core traditional fantasy fanatics wouldn't care for it at all. I would recommend it to a reader who is interested in thought provoking fantasy and into spiritual lore.
Published April 2011
Soft Back $15.95
Hard Back $25.95