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Jennifer Barlow

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Member Since: Before 2003

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Hamlet Dreams
by Jennifer Barlow   

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Publisher:  Aardwolf Press ISBN-10:  0970622511 Type: 


Copyright:  Jan 1 2001

What if you could control your dreams?
What if your dreams controlled you?

Barnes &
Aardwolf Press

Zac has always thought himself master of the Other Place, the fantasy world he visits in his dreams. But when Zac falls in love with Cecile and decides to forsake his fantasies, he angers the power behind the Other Place: someone--or something--that won't let him leave.

Trapped in an unearthly dream, Zac must confront horrors spawned deep within his mind. At risk is his own life, and also Cecile's--for the bridge between reality and fantasy goes both ways.

Professional Reviews

Asimov's Science Fiction
Jennifer Barlow, debut novelist of Hamlet Dreams, brings us a dark fantasy where sexual naïveté lures lovers into psychic and mortal dangers. Diametrically opposed to the horror film trope of "sluts attract the serial killer first," it's a refreshing twist, and more in line with older notions of evil finding innocence too infuriating to survive. Zac Martins is an unassuming chap, a dog-groomer, in fact, with a secret. Since youth, he's been able to visit the Other Place, a psychic venue fully as tangible as reality. But with the entrance into his life of his first real love, Cecile Graham, a schoolteacher, he's begun to abandon his childhood refuge. This does not sit well with the spider at the heart of the Other Place, an entity named Carcajou, who needs Zac's visits for his own purposes. Carcajou's scheming in two worlds leads both Zac and Cecile into depths of betrayal and anguished self-knowledge: necessary steps toward a maturity they lack. Barlow's prose here is well-honed and her story moves along at a good clip, with action shuttling between Earth and the Other Place. The Hamlet motif is employed tellingly. Supporting characters do their job efficiently, and her climax is both sobering and reaffirming. All in all, a fine opening turn upon the stage. -Paul Di Filippo

Science Fiction Chronicle
The increasing number of substandard books has made me suspicious of unfamiliar imprints recently, particularly when the author's name is similarly unknown. Happily, not everything published in this fashion turns out bad. Aardwolf's first two books to cross my path have both been quite good. This one is a contemporary fantasy. The protagonist is a young man who has often escaped his personal troubles by retreating into a fantasy world in his dreams. Then he falls in love with a young woman who has problems of her own, the most significant of which is an abusive man who nearly raped her years before and who is now stalking her again. Her situation seems ripe for a rescue, but our hero has a new problem. His dreams no longer want to let him go, and the adventures he faces in distorted versions of ancient legends are real enough to endanger his life and hold him captive forever. Fine prose, likable characters, a straightforward plot, and an interesting twist all help make this an enjoyable novel. -Don D'Amassa

Library Journal
The dreams that transport Zac to a realm of myths he calls the "Other Place" take second place to his growing love for Cecile, a schoolteacher troubled by her own tortured past. When a creature from the "Other Place" attempts to trap Zac in its realm, Cecile must face her own inner demons before she can rescue him. Barlow's first novel draws on images from myths and legends to tell a tale of lovers drawn apart by forces beyond their control. This modern fantasy thriller belongs in large fantasy and horror collections.

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