The Dreamsnatcher is the first in a series by debut author, Abi Elphinstone. Molly Pecksniff lives in a wagon in a forest clearing having been taken in by gypsies who found her abandoned as a toddler. Moll’s clearly rather unusual: she’s befriended by a wildcat Gryff even though gypsies say they’re ‘the only animals that can’t be tamed’, and has a recurrent nightmare which has recently been getting worse and sometimes causes her to sleepwalk. When a rival group of gypsies, led by the terrifying witchdoctor Skull, steals Moll’s beloved pony, she and Gryff venture to their camp in a forbidden part of the forest to get him back. There they come across a terrifying sight that Moll immediately recognises from her nightmare. It seems that Skull is trying to control her mind by snatching her dreams and replacing them with the nightmare. As she discovers the truth about her past, Moll learns that she and Gryff are the only ones who can destroy Skull’s dark magic – and Skull is determined to destroy both of them first.
This is a very enjoyable, action-packed read, stuffed with magic, narrow escapes, evocative descriptions and interesting characters. With so many chapters ending on a cliffhanger it was difficult to put down. The ending didn’t feel wholly satisfying to me as there’s much to be resolved – but I’ll just have to wait for the next book.