You can’t accuse David Lillie of rushing DreamKeepers – I read the first volume in the series back in 2007. Now we’re only as far as book three and, with such big gaps between books (and perhaps the ageing of my brain) it’s hard to keep on top of what’s going on. The journey, however, is a fascinating one, as Lillie picks up our expectations from previous books and rattles them around a bit, muddying the waters when it comes to who are the good guys and who are the bad, and complicating the hierarchy of the baddies by introducing a rebellious sub-faction with it’s own evil leader.
I mentioned back in our review of Volume 2 that I thought this might make good all-ages reading, but the content has darkened over the course of the books, and this volume ups both the swearing and the violence. With the benefit of hindsight, Lillie was clearly building the innocence of his characters in the first book so he could tear it away from them by the time we get to this point, and his dark characters look to have a lot left to give the heroes in terms of misery and pain.
As ever, Lillie’s illustration is stunning. His Disney-esque humanoid-animals contrast starkly with the spindly shadow creatures we’re starting to see more and more of. The story’s backdrops are exquisitely detailed, whether he’s illustrating hellish demon pits or opulent palaces.
While a little more explanation would be welcome at this stage of the series, travelling down this path with Lillie and his characters is still exciting. The illustration gets more refined with each book, and while the story remains something of a mystery, it’s bubbling away at a hearty simmer, and feels like it must be heading for some form of resolution soon – even if we have to wait another year or two for the next instalment.