The Dream Thief by Shana Abe
Bantam Books - Random House, Inc.,
Hardcover edition October 2006
Mass market edition September 2007
In a remote region of northern England, hidden from humans, there exists a species of shapeshifters called the drakon, who can shift from human to smoke to dragon. Since the dawn of time, the stones of the earth have called to the drakon, who have mined some of the most precious and rare stones of all time. Shana Abe's first drakon novel, The Smoke Thief, takes place in the mid 18th century and is the love story of the drakon's alpha male, the Marquess Christoff Langford who claimed his mate, the elusive and rebellious 'smoke thief,' Clarissa 'Rue' Hawthorne. The first chapter of The Dream Thief takes place seventeen years later, to a time when Christoff and Rue have five children of their own, all who have matured to young adults and now have the ability to Turn, or shift to smoke and dragon. That is, all except their youngest child, Amalia, or Lia, who shows no signs of ever being able to Turn. Lia does, however, possess two very powerful gifts that she has kept secret since she was a small child. One gift is her ability to clearly hear the song of the dangerously powerful and alluring stone, the Dramur from its resting place in a faraway land. The other gift is that of precognitive dreams. Dreams in which she has broken tribal rules by taking a human lover and traveling far from drakon territory to seek the Dramur. The Dramur is a large diamond that sings to the drakon and is in fact so alluring and mesmerizing to the drakon, that it can be used to control them. If it feel into the wrong hands, the Dramur could be used against the drakon.
Five years later, other drakon finally begin to hear the faint song of the Dramur that Lia has been hearing for years. As the alphas of the drakon tribe, Christoff and Rue decide the stone must be sought out and protected from being discovered by others. They subsequently hire Zane, former street urchin turned professional thief, and sole human friend of the drakon, to travel the depths of eastern Europe to retrieve the Dramur. Unbeknownst to her tribe or even her family, Lia leaves her boarding school to seek the stone and soon convinces Zane that they should search for Dramur together. Their corroborative effort to find the stone brings them together romantically but also puts them great risk of disaster. For Lia is dangerously susceptible to the enslaving powers of the dramur, and Zane is one of the world's greatest thieves after all.
Once again, Ms. Abe enchanted me with her mysterious dragon filled world set in historical Europe. The Dream Thief is a beautifully written, magical tale with believable love story. Lia was a determined, intelligent and resourceful young woman and at times somewhat naive, which was quite endearing. The sexual tension that builds up between Lia and Zane throughout the book is sexy and realistic, and when they finally give in to their desires, their passion is honest and raw. Throughout their journey, Lia and Zane face many dangers, including several that put them near death. These scenes were both suspenseful and emotional.
Having meet Zane when he was a mere street urchin in The Smoke Thief, I was so pleased that Ms. Abe was able to keep Zane true to his character throughout this tale. Zane never made apologies for his nefarious ways nor did he pretend he was anything more than a mere human thief. I admired his 'what you see is what you get' attitude about himself and that he didn't glorify himself to be anything different in Lia's eyes.
The combination of Abe's beautiful writing style, the creative mythology of the drakon, the historical setting, and the passionate love story between Lia and Zane make The Dream Thief a fantastic read. The third novel, Queen of Dragons, was released in hardcover in December 2007.