When We Got Lost in Dreamland

by | Mar 31, 2023 | Book Review, Fiction

When We Got Lost in Dreamland (cover)

Book Details

When We Got Lost in Dreamland
Ross Welford. London: HarperCollins, hb. 978 0 0084 6958 0, 2022 (first published in 2021), £12.99, 406pp.
Fiction, novel, 10+ years

This first-person novel is set in the North East of England, the birthplace of English children’s science fiction/fantasy author Ross Welford.

Welford has been the recipient of several awards including The Awesome Book Award which was voted for by school children across England and testament to the immense popularity of his novels.

The first time Malky (Malcolm) knew that he was dreaming and could control his dream he was very young, and it was about a crocodile. When he is 11, Malky steals, because of a dare, a Dreaminator kit with assembly instructions to make two of them. He assembles them, and at bedtime, he and his younger brother Seb (Sebastian) try them out and find that they work the first time! It is Malky who controls the dreams that they always share, and he tells Seb confidently that they can wake up and come out of a dream whenever they want to. Their ‘waking dreams’ include being British sailors aboard a galleon fighting the Spanish Armada, being captured by a tribe of huge Stone Age men, and attempting to shoot Adolph Hitler (Seb’s idea) using toy guns.

But dream-hopping can be dangerous: during the Hitler adventure, Malky begins to lose his ability to control their dreams but fails to fully heed the warning sign. Consequently, in their next dream, Seb becomes trapped in the Stone Age and cannot wake while in the real world, he is rushed to a hospital in a coma. To awaken his brother, Malky undertakes one last and dangerous dream journey back to the Stone Age. He tells the story sometimes in flashbacks, the text weaving backwards and forwards in time. This makes for exciting reading while threads of humour throughout lighten the often serious and moving elements of the drama.

This is a real page-turner.


Review by June Hopper Swain