cover image The Dream Merchant

The Dream Merchant

Isabel Hoving, , trans. from the Dutch by Hester Velmans. . Candlewick, $17.95 (640pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-2880-2

Twelve-year-old Londoner Joshua Cope is finding it difficult to cope: his mother is working overtime, her boyfriend, Edwin, drinks, and even Liz, his older stepsister, has little time to spare for him. But Josh has some unusual talents, and is recruited by Gippart, "an international marketing giant," to come every fortnight and work on a special project—traveling back in time through "umaya ,... the collective dream-world of all mankind." Josh's best friend, Baz, is also going to work with Gippart and, not so welcome, Liz's strange suit-attired boyfriend Mervin Spratt works there too. Thus begins Josh and Baz's epic journey to search for the Tembe, "a legendary name" at Gippart, and descendants of the Gippart founder's estranged brother. Their quest takes them to many different places where they find clues to where the Temberi may be, through rice patties and the Takras mountains and on a zebra-drawn wagon, and proves a sophisticated adventure along the lines of Mervin Peake's Gormenghast trilogy. Some readers may be daunted by the many twists and turns that reveal who is good and who is bad, and by the novel's sheer length. But this is a sustained flight of fancy, and may well appeal to fantasy fans. Ages 12-up. (Nov.)