Dreams of the Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn is the sequel to After the Golden Age. It’s told in alternating POVs: Celia, our protagonist from the first book, now twenty years older; and Anna, her teenage daughter.
This is a family tale. After the Golden Age also was, since it was about the non-powered daughter of superhero parents. But this, this dives deeper into it. Celia not only has to deal with her own plotline, but having two teenage daughters and all the drama that carries with it. Anna is dealing with a superhero plot of her own, while navigating the complicated relationship between a teenage daughter and her overbearing mother. The family relationships are part and parcel of story.
One of the things I love about this duology is that it takes a superhero story and makes it extremely personal. You don’t get the grandeur or epic battles of other superhero stories. You get the pettiness, the rivalry, the inadequacy, the fear–because these are human beings we’re talking about. Their lives, and the lives of their friends and family, are at risk. Vaughn does an excellent job making you feel that. This is what I loved about the first book. It’s just as prevalent here.
And, in contrast to some short stories I’ve read recent, Anna really feels like a young woman. She has that nervousness, the need to prove herself, the rivalry with friends, the conflict over her crushes. And Celia felt like a woman in her prime. These are beautifully characterized and believable people.
I highly recommend both these novels, but if you’re going to read them, start with After the Golden Age. There’s enough context that I think it’s important to read that one first.
Recommended for: Fans of urban fantasy, fans of superheroes, fans of family drama in fantasy settings