The Lost Dreamer

Farrar. Mar. 2022. 384p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250754851.
Gr 8 Up–A timeless power struggle set against the ancient backdrop of Mesoamerica (historically southern North America to Central America). Indir is a Dreamer, part of a long line of seers who has been raised in the Temple of Night surrounded by her mother and aunts. Right before the king dies, the teen sees the oncoming chaos and destruction his blasphemous son will bring, and that somehow she’s a part of it. Saya can also see what others can’t, but instead of being trained to use her abilities, she has been exploited by her mother and has never lived in one place for very long. The girls must fight for their own survival and the survival of their community in this intense duology opener. Through their alternating first-person perspectives, readers are immersed in Huerta’s complex and layered narrative. The intricate worldbuilding encompasses the kingdom of Alcanzeh, Dreaming and Waking worlds, and intimate practices of Song and Dream interpretation. The pacing is sometimes uneven; the first half has a slow build, while the latter half rushes to the cliff-hanger conclusion. At first, it’s difficult to distinguish between Indir and Saya, but eventually the cadences of the two voices settle in. Huerta’s fully realized characters and plot will pull in readers, and her lyrical writing will spellbind them. The narrators’ complicated relationships with their matrilineal upbringing and the book’s coming-of-age themes will resonate with young people. Broader themes include cultural genocide and the insidious power of the patriarchy. The characters are all Indigenous with a variation of brown skin.
VERDICT This first book in a duology will be enjoyed by fans of Roseanne A. Brown’s A Song of Wraiths and Ruin and Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone.

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