Jonathan Carroll's Bones of the Moon , like all his books, starts out as mainstream fiction, dealing with the personal interrelations and emotional states of regular people, but eventually takes a turn to the fantastic. The fantastic element this time 'round is a dream world reminiscent of the "A Game of You" arc in Neil Gaiman's Sandman -- you've got your basic fantasy geography, your giant talking animals, your important personal quest, and so on.

The problem with this setup is that Carroll leans far too heavily on dream logic. The dream world he sets up is random and arbitrary, and nothing it in makes even internal sense. In small doses, this is excellent and inventive; but Carroll gives us huge, horse-choking doses, whereupon it just gets frustrating. Listening to someone else's incoherent dream at length isn't fun in reality, and it's not fun in fiction, either.

The real-world portion of this novel was solid and interesting, but the fantastic elements were a chore to slog through. I'm beginning to wish that Carroll would abandon the genre and just write a straight-up novel with no fantastic elements.


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