Review: Trial by Dreams by Jolene Buchheit
Julia finally accepted that her boyfriend is the son of a Siren and her family isn’t as normal as she once thought. But when she accidentally unlocks a power she didn’t know she had, her world dissolves into chaos once more. Now she is forced to uncover the truth about who she truly is, in order to triumph over their most important quest yet.
For Vander, the stakes have been raised as he seeks what was taken from him, torn between his need to protect Julia from Demeter and his focus on their second trial. What starts as a twisted journey across Iowa dissolves into recurring dreams that foreshadow a dark fate should they fail to work together.
As the fear of failure builds and time ticks away, Julia and Vander must learn to trust their instincts – and one another – before their reality spins into a nightmare that rips them apart.
EXCERPT: “I’m selfish, Julia. If anyone understands the power of the mind to convince you things are real when they aren’t, it’s me.”
Ominous clouds fill his eyes before he looks down at his hands. For the first time, it dawns on me how little he has used his charm on this mission. It makes me feel ashamed for giving him such a hard time for all of the charming he has done in the past.
“I never thought about how my ability could affect others, until you asked me about it. I was just doing whatever was easiest for me, and hoping my skills would help me survive. But now I realize it isn’t my charms that I need, it’s you. You are what keeps me focused, and honestly, you are the only one who has challenged me to become a better person.”
I’ve been challenging him? It seems like being a part of his life has brought me through such amazing journeys that I’ve had no choice but to grow.
He takes a shaky breath and continues, “You’re the light in the darkness of my life, giving me something to cling to. When you get anxious, it is like my beacon of light becomes a mere candle flickering in the breeze, threatening to go out. Because of my own need for brightness, I reach out to stoke it back into a roaring flame.” He nudges my shoulder and winks. “And, boy, how it makes me happy when you roar.”
Memories of all the smartass things I’ve said to him in the past week make the corner of my mouth turn up. He uses his next words to steal my breath.
“I’m desperate to protect and save you from your anxieties, because I need you to protect and save me.”
Maintaining eye contact becomes difficult when my vision gets blurry. The tears in my eyes are different than the usual ones that fall. They aren’t carrying any sadness, just comfort and joy, like a Christmas carol has come to life on my face. I try to swipe them away with the back of my hand, but Vander stops me.
“Tears are powerful things. Sometimes they heal, not exactly like my mom’s do, but they have the power to make you feel better. Other times they help you celebrate when your happiness can’t be contained. And for me, they offer even more support, because water multiplies my powers, but tears impact them exponentially more, especially if they aren’t sadness tears.”
After my hands fall back into my lap, he reaches in his back pocket and takes out the flat vial that once held his mother’s tear he used to heal my ankle. Uncapping it, he holds it under my eye and collects the moisture from one side and then the other. Even though I’m not thrilled about crying, I wouldn’t trade this moment for anything.
I clear my throat. “What power do you think my tears hold? I don’t even know how to use the power I know about.”
He replaces the cap and puts the vial back in his wallet. “If they are anything like the mighty hold you have on my heart, I believe they could heal the world of all its problems.”
“Anyway, I get having personal issues that aren’t any fault of your own, but more importantly, I understand the value of having friends to help you through hard times. If I didn’t have Lissy and Julia, I may have found a destructive way of dealing with my frustration. Instead, I have two of the best friends a girl could ask for, who have always found ways of having fun without the use of alcohol or drugs. I’m not saying I am your best friend or anything—I mean, you have Wes and all. But since you are dating Julia, that makes you my best friend-in-law or some shit, and that means I am not going to let you down. I will help you until we find your dad, and I will do whatever I can to help you survive the island, no questions asked. Do you understand what I’m saying here?”
REVIEW: Best friends until the end! When you are in school and life becomes stressful, friends are always the support you need to help you through. Buchheit continues the second installment in the Charmed Trials Series with another tricky puzzle to solve. This time…Vander’s father has been kidnapped by the wicked goddess, Demeter. Julia and Vander are not the only ones that are rushed into the adventure, as they race against time to find clues to his father’s location. With eagerness, determination and a little help from the other gods, will they be able to find him and complete the quest?
Julia, Lissa and Taylor are absolute best friends. All three girls, Vander and his friend, two guides, a man who turns into a lizard, a few gods opposing Demeter’s trickery and Julia’s mother should do the trick right? High school is supposed to be about finding out who you are and gaining an education in the process. But, Julia and Vander have this connection that his grandmother, Demeter, has tried to steal away from them. In doing so, she has placed a huge burden onto their shoulders. These quests that they must complete, take away from their youth and ignorance…plunging them into the world of danger and lies. What will become of them if they don’t stay true to themselves or if their powers overcome their ability to stay strong…strong for one another and the ones that they care about most?
Buchheit has a strong, impactful and deliberately frustrating plot. When one clue grows cold, the band of friends and family must pull something else together in order to find another one. The ongoing quest is entertaining, but confusing as well. The author does a good job with character development. Unlike the first installment, the pace is slower as there is more explanation and backtracking. This second installment is a bit different from the first, but there still remains a lot of adventure packed into this novel. If you are a reader of mythology, fantasy and young adult, this may interest you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: As a substitute teacher, Jolene spends her days in high school classrooms harvesting material for her Young Adult novels. She also uses it as an outlet for fangirling by showing upcoming book-to-movie trailers at the end of class, or discussing vital issues like whether Katniss should have picked Gale or Peeta.
She is committed to helping Special Education teenagers become independent adults and helping them find a way to focus on the positive especially when life gets hard. At home, Jolene loves to cuddle with her husband, two kids, and three cats—sometimes all at once—while reading Young Adult books or repeatedly watching movies based on them.