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Monday, September 24, 2012

Dreamfisher by Nancy Springer

Dreamfisher by Nancy Springer
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Historical
Length: Short Story (13 pages)
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Ostracized for speaking her mind and standing up against a man she doesn't wish to marry, a young girl is cast out of her village and forced to fend for herself in the mountains. When she ventures too closely to a lake and nearly drowns, she is rescued by a man from Athens who introduces himself as Herodotus. What transpires after the rescue is an education for the young girl, providing names for the things that surround her. When an encounter with a fish leads her to discover her own true name, she soon discovers the gift she can take back to her village to be accepted once again.

Is it better to walk away from a community that hurts and rejects people it doesn’t understand or to stay and attempt to transform it from the inside out? There’s no one right answer to this question. Every individual who has been discriminated against or hated for who they are must decide what works best for his or her life.

The tension between the way things have always been and how they could be improved upon is something almost everyone will experience at one point. What makes Dreamfisher unique, though, is that the main character isn’t influenced by what anyone thinks of her choices. It takes an incredibly strong will to resist the labels human beings often paste on one another and I deeply admired her unwavering self confidence.

I do not know if Ms. Springer intends to write a sequel but I would be quite interested in learning more about the pale-eyed man that the main character meets after being exiled from her village. Readers are given just enough information about this gentleman to whet our appetites. While it wasn’t necessary for plot development I would have enjoyed seeing how certain scenes played out from his point of view and actually caught myself imagining what the pale-eyed man had to say about the girl he met when he returned to the city or village where he lived. These two characters will remain lodged in my imagination for a long time and I hope one day we will know more about their adventures!

Dreamfisher is a modern day parable. Brew a pot of tea, invite some friends over and read it aloud after dusk. This is a story best enjoyed and understood in the company of others.

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