Hi friends! I received a copy of this book from for the author, Christian Cura, in exchange for an honest review. This book has already been published, so you can read it now if you’re interested! Although I received this book for free, all thoughts and feedback are my own.
Synopsis & Quick Thoughts
Dreams of Thunder is Christian Cura’s sequel to his debut novel, Dreams of Fire. Saba Qureshi’s grandfather has been executed for his practice of necromancy, and she’s out for revenge. Her plan? Assassinate the Council members and instate a new world order where she and her rogues reign supreme. A group of enforcers and other magic users unite to stop her, but will their efforts be enough?
I’m impressed! I went into this book with no expectations – this author is new and I had not previously heard of his work, nor had I read the first book in this series. And I was pleasantly surprised! This is by no means a perfect story, but it’s a very promising start for Cura’s writing career and certainly marks him as an author to watch.
The thing that I think I appreciated most about this novel was Cura’s writing style. It’s not uncommon for a new author to be unsure of their writing style or for it to be somewhat unrefined, but Cura has a very clear style and tone to his writing that I enjoyed. The prose was detailed without being pretentious, the dialogue was realistic and colloquial without sounding like it was trying too hard to be so. I found the pace to be good and the general plot to be exciting and I finished this book relatively quickly. It was definitely a fun read.
I also enjoyed some of the choices Cura made to distinguish this novel from others in similar genres. Urban fantasy is not a genre that I’m very familiar with and I’m a fan of the taste I got with this novel. I found it unique (among the books I’ve read, at least) that people with magical abilities are not expected to keep these abilities a secret, rather, the whole world knows about them and these differences don’t play a large role in the story. I also appreciated the LGBTQ+ inclusion, with two of the main female characters being in a relationship with one another. While I take issue with the magic system in this novel and will discuss it more later, fantasy is one of my favorite genres and I always love to see what types of magic systems authors implement into their worlds. Some of these capabilities, like creating pocket dimensions and having tattooed creatures that can come alive and fight for you, are super cool and exciting to read about.
I have two critiques with this novel that prevented Dreams of Thunder from being a truly engaging read. The first of these is the magic system within the novel. Incoming long paragraph alert because I LOVE fantasy and I LOVE magic systems. I will admit up-front that I greatly prefer hard magic systems over soft (you can read about the differences between the two and their pros and cons here). This book utilizes a soft magic system. There are absolutely instances where soft magic is done well, see Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. However, the role that magic plays in these roles is different than the use of magic in Dreams of Thunder. Since magic is being used to solve problems and not convey a theme, I would think, in my own opinion, a hard magic system would be more apt in this scenario. In this novel, magic is used for so many different scenarios it becomes hard to find the boundaries of our characters’ abilities. Allow me to pose a number of questions I had while digesting this magic system:
~ One of our protagonists has tattoos that can come to life and fight for her. She is the only person mentioned in the story with these abilities although it seems beyond useful. Why?
~ What types of words are being used? Although hand movements are described in detail, descriptions of incantations never include the actual words being said. This could greatly help establish a rule set for casting.
~ Can all magic users learn all types of magic? It’s never explicitly stated that there are limits to what one can learn, but it is mentioned that a couple of characters have specific special abilities. Does this mean that there are some things that magic users just can’t do? Their magic seems fairly all-encompassing for a large section of capabilities to be ‘unlearnable’.
My final critique comes with an odd feeling I had while reading that I haven’t experienced much in a book before. This story and world felt oddly flat. I think it may stem from a lack of description, including the notes about the magic system I made and the generic use of the word ‘demons’ numerous times without giving a physical description of what the characters were fighting for a majority of the novel. The characters didn’t display dynamic change or were very developed at all. I’m going to attribute this to the hope that things were set up and developed in-depth in the first novel in the series, however, this development would ideally be continued in each subsequent sequel.
Rating & Final Thoughts
I’m excited to say that Dreams of Thunder is a solid 3 out of 5 star read. I know I seemed a little picky but I tend to hold my fantasy to a high standard; don’t get my wrong, I’m impressed by this novel. If you enjoy soft magic systems and urban fantasy, I would really recommend taking a look at this series. At the very least, keep your eye on Christian Cura.