Like Dreamers Do

Otherbound — Corrine Duyvis


Corrine Duyvis’ 2014 Otherbound is a standalone fantasy.

Arizona teen Nolan is a visionary. He doesn’t imagine things: he sees things. Whenever he closes his eyes — when he blinks, for example — he sees whatever Amara sees.

Amara lives in another realm where magic is real. She has a talent, healing, which makes her nigh unkillable. You’d think this would make her a power in the world in which she lives. It doesn’t. She’s a slave. She’s a slave on the run, following her mistress.

Princess Cilla managed to flee the coup that killed the rest of her family. She took with her a loyal servant (Jorn), a small retinue, and Amara.

The rebel ministers have managed to cast a spell on Cilla. What they intended to do is unclear. However, the spell’s effect is unmistakable. If Cilla bleeds, the stones around her attack the princess without mercy. Her servants must watch over Cilla, keeping her from the smallest wound. When they fail (as is inevitable) Amara must heal the princess. Amara is necessary but not treated well. Jorn, the head servant, brutally abuses Amara, smug in the knowledge that, after all, she can heal herself.

Nolan, who must witness the flight, the fear, the abuse, is helpless to intervene. The on-going drama is ruining his everyday life in a small Arizona town. His family believes that he suffers from epilepsy and hallucinations. They do not take him seriously. He bears this mysterious burden alone.

Then, not alone. Amara becomes aware of the observer; the two of them learn to work together. They realize that Jorn is not the loyal servant Cilla believes him to be. Jorn is working for the rebel ministers. Can they find a way to save the princess, free Amara, and relieve Nolan of his visions?


I have described Amara as a slave. Her mistress calls her a servant. However … she doesn’t get any pay, can’t quit, has been tattooed to make it clear to whom she belongs, is forbidden to learn how to read or write, and her tongue was removed to prevent her from speaking. I feel comfortable calling her a slave.

Why then work so hard to keep Cilla alive? Amara isn’t given a choice. Her life has been one of brutality; she has been beaten into submission. If she were to run away, the tattoo and the missing tongue would assure recapture.

I was looking forward to reading this novel because I had quite enjoyed the author’s end-of-the-world novel On the Edge of Gone. I was disappointed to find that this book didn’t hit the same spot. That may be due to my genre preferences; I tend to like SF better than fantasy. I also bounced off a subplot re a romance between Cilla and a servant in her retinue. It’s not a relationship of equals.

Readers who do not share my genre preferences and my unease with unequal relationships may find much to like in the book. The story is skillfully told, the characters are appealing, and the mystery (why the bond between Nolan and Amara?) tantalizes.

Otherbound is available here (Amazon) and here (Chapters-Indigo).


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