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Dream Thieves
Steven Lee Climer
Hard Shell Word Factory, 182 pages

Dream Thieves
Steven Lee Climer
Steven Lee Climer lives in Detroit where he is a Ph.D. student at Wayne State University. He teaches English at Detroit College of Business. His story, "By Any Name a Devil," appeared in the anthology Monsters from Memphis and was named Honourable Mention in The Year's Best Horror and Fantasy by OMNI, and was also recommended for nomination for a Bram Stoker Award.

Steven Lee Climer Website
ISFDB Bibliography
Hard Shell Word Factory

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Lisa DuMond

Not much gives me the creeps. In my spare time, I research serial crime -- murders, rapes, that kind of thing. It takes quite a bit to get to me. Dream Thieves did it. Distinctly uncomfortable. Slightly nauseated. Definitely appalled. That would just about cover it. In every sense of the word, horror.

Perhaps, it is the choice of victim that produces such a visceral response. Cruelty to a child, especially by a family member, is chilling.

Edward Grimm is a man of enormous talent, a woodcarver extraordinaire. He is also a sociopath, without a hint of empathy or compassion. One goal drives him brutally forward: Grimm is unable to dream, and he will do anything to steal the dreams of others. Tragically, the dreams he covets the most belong to his young nephew Gustov. With the magic of a gypsy woman, he will find a way to capture those dreams. And the cost to everyone he involves will be beyond belief.

Dream Thieves is presented in a relatively new format, available on diskette or by download. And, yes, even though I had a hard copy of the text, I read the entire book on computer. No problem. Current wisdom insists consumers will set a limit on how much they are willing to read online, maintaining that documents cannot exceed X numbers of pages. If so, we need to get beyond that mental block. It reads fast, it's portable, and, when on your computer screen, looks just like that report you're supposed to be working on. And you can always print it out if staring at the monitor begins to bother you.

The only distraction came in the form of numerous typographical errors. Hard Shell is still a fairly new company and, no doubt, every project will be an improvement on the process, but such mistakes are among the easiest kinks to smooth out. A first read should have picked up on these stumbles.

Dream Thieves reads (probably not coincidentally) like the original Grimm's fairy tales, those stories you skimmed through as an adult and then hid from your children. Blood-curdling stuff that would keep the kids sleeping in your bed until their 18th birthday. The origin of the phrase "fairy tales" would be an interesting one to trace, since most fairy tales contain more murder, torture, and abandonment than prime time television can stuff into a few hours.

Climer's novel is genuine horror, told in an almost baroque style that occasionally lulls the reader into a false sense of security as the charming Bavarian landscape flows by. And yanks you back with a claw to the throat. At times, the events are so disturbing, pulling away seems the only decent action.

Dream Thieves is that gruesome accident you want to look away from, but can't. It amounts to literary rubbernecking. The only consolation being that the victims in this case never existed and, so, cannot suffer.

Copyright © 1998 Lisa DuMond

Lisa DuMond writes science fiction and humour. She co-authored the 45th anniversary issue cover of MAD Magazine. Previews of her latest, as yet unpublished, novel are available at Hades Online.

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