Shortly after his birth, Ewan Thatcher is stolen from his crib and replaced by a changeling. He is taken to the Limestone Kingdom outside of Austin, Texas to be raised by fairies. The changeling, who was never expected to live beyond the devastation he brought to the Thatcher family, is adopted by a group of nixie sisters living in Lady Bird Lake and named Knocks. Ewan and Knocks are growing up together in the Limestone Kingdom and are friendly, even though Knocks has always felt inferior to Ewan.
Colby Stephens is a typical kid growing up just outside of Austin. As an eight-year-old he is imaginative and ready to have adventures, but even he is surprised when he meets an actual, real, honest-to-goodness djinn in the woods near his house! The djinn's name is Yashar and he has agreed to grant Colby a wish--anything he wants. When Colby makes his wish, Yashar hesitates. He knows that if he grants this wish nothing good can come of it. What Yashar doesn't know is that Colby's wish will have ramifications about which even he is not aware--yet.
In Dreams and Shadows, C. Robert Cargill weaves together the supernatural beings from disparate parts of the world. including the fae and the djinn, and creates an incredible culture of magical creatures hidden from most of Earth's better known civilizations by a thin "veil" separating the two worlds. Dreams and Shadows is the story of three boys who have been taken through that veil, either unwittingly or unwillingly. The story is complex, and there is a lot to set up, and once the set-up is complete, the story develops swiftly and thoughtfully. Austin is the perfect setting, with a large enough urban center (and thriving music culture) for parts of the story, yet surrounded by enough natural and undeveloped land to provide for a believable fae civilization. The characters are wonderfully drawn, and their relationships are complicated and believable. Plus there is something for almost any fan of urban fantasy, including epic battles, magical politics, and tragic romance.
Cargill also uses the story to explore issues of belief, responsibility, and how right and wrong are defined by our own perspectives. It's not always clear who the hero is, or will be, or if the "right" thing to do (which could have devastating effects on those who don't share a certain point of view) is really what should be done. All of this is complicated as Cargill tells the story of young boys/men whose friendship and enmity will alter their world. This is a marvelous debut novel!