Zac and the Dream Stealers
By Ross MacKenzie
Publisher: The Chicken House
Release date: June 1, 2012
I LOVED this book! It’s been ages since this crusty, old Book Slave has read a book for children ages 8 to 12 and I was absolutely delighted all the way through first time author Ross MacKenzie’s Zac and the Dream Stealers.
Poor Zac Wonder has been having the kind of nightmares that startle him awake each night, which is how he learns that his Granny’s been slipping out of the house at the stroke of midnight. One night, the young boy decides to follow Granny and ends up in a dream world called Nocturne and learns that his sweet, old Granny is a whole lot more than merely sweet and old. Granny’s one of the Knights of Nod, a secret organization of magicians formed to protect Nocturne against the Dream Stealers. She’s been summoned back to Nocturne by Grandmaster magician Rumpous Tinn, only he’s not there when they arrive. Someone has kidnapped Rompous Tinn and the Knights devise a plan to find him.
Meanwhile, Zac’s not the only one plagued with terrible nightmares. The Dream Stealers seek to control all of Nocturne and in order to do that, they draw all the goodness out of the dreams of the Wakelings (regular people like Zac who don’t live in Nocturne, but normally just visit it in their dreams) and turn them into nightmares. If the Dream Stealers have their way, the Wakelings will experience nightmares every time they fall asleep. It’s up to the Knights of Nod, Zac, and a very special select few people they meet along the way to stop them from terrorizing the poor Wakelings.
Of course, a wild adventure fraught with danger ensues. There are vampires, wolves, and goblins to contend with, as well as very dark magic. All the things that go bump in the night party it up in Nocturne and Zac becomes an older boy in the process of finding the courage he didn’t even know he had to fight them all. He also discovers, quite by accident, that he’s got a few tricks up his own sleeve, as well.
Zac and the Dream Stealers is filled with nonstop action, thrills, mysteries, and even a fair bit of murder and violence. But MacKenzie’s tone, while appropriately serious during the darker bits, is generally upbeat throughout. We’re made aware of the dangers that may lie ahead, yet gently encouraged to keep going for just as there may be terror, there may also be a more favorable outcome. I suppose therein lies the overall life message for youngsters: Be brave; no matter what, it’s going to be all right. And that one’s applicable to kids of all ages – even a cynical, old book-barnacle like yours truly.