cover image Escaping Dreamland

Escaping Dreamland

Charlie Lovett. Blackstone, $26.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-982629-40-3

Lovett (The Lost Book of the Grail) underwhelms in this story of a man’s obsession with a series of children’s books. As a young boy, novelist Robert Parrish was entranced by the Tremendous Trio, featuring Daring Dan Dawson, a circus daredevil; Alice Gold, Girl Inventor; and Frank Fairfax, Cub Reporter. The action-packed yarns fomented his ambition to become a writer, though during his studies at an MFA program, he kept his inspiration a secret, and still feels shame over his continued love for the books. His curiosity is piqued by the missing pages from what was billed as the last adventure of the Tremendous Trio, and soon he embarks on a quest through the city’s libraries for the rest of the manuscript, which also involves seeking the truth about the creators of Dawson, Gold, and Fairfax. Lovett alternates Parrish’s efforts with flashbacks about the lives of the writers, which include brushes with death in 1904 when the General Slocum steamboat caught fire and sank in New York City, and a 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Parrish’s obsession creates tension with his girlfriend, leading to a final resolution that features the revelation of a clichéd secret from Parrish’s teenage years. Uninspired prose and convoluted plotting are another minus. It’s an ambitious novel, but not a successful one. Agent: Anna Worrall, the Gernert Co. (Sept.)