The Dream Peddler

Penguin. Apr. 2019. 336p. ISBN 9780143133179. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9780525504955. FANTASY
DEBUT Robert Owens trudges into town through the snow toting his potions on the same day young Benny Dawson goes missing. Although initially met with skepticism, news of his alluring dream elixirs spreads. Teen boys conjure beautiful girls, bored farmers find adventure, and girls glimpse images of future husbands. Evie Dawson befriends Owens, who helps her escape the tragedy her life has become, although she prefers not to dream of her son Benny. But when a young woman becomes pregnant, suspicion about the dream peddler's intentions spread like a virus. Only Evie knows the truth.
VERDICT Watson's graceful, lyrically written debut uses a pinch of magic to contemplate the daily mysteries of life: love, loss, and our desire to be happy. The result will appeal to mainstream fiction and magical realism readers as well as fantasy fans, especially those who love Ray Bradbury.
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