The Crystal Key

Yet another excellent review for The Crystal Key

The Crystal Key coverThe latest praise for The Crystal Key: The Dream Rider Saga, Book 2 comes via fellow speculative fiction writer, Robert Runté, in the Ottawa Review of Books. Here are the highlights of the review:

"If you've already read The Hollow Boys, you don't need me to tell you to buy the sequel. … Smith surprised me again with The Crystal Key, tapping into my deep nostalgia for Saturday matinee serials. … Smith manages to update the genre with an ethnically diverse cast and strong female characters. Smith's take on superheroes and serials is both modern and original, but it recreates the same energy, the same yearning for superpowers, the same subconscious fear of dark places and boogeymen as the best stories of our own remembered youth. High adventure leavened with romance and mystery. …

[Smith] keeps things moving at a fast clip. No spoilers, so all I can say about the plot is that it involves the multiverse, astral travel, ancient cults, hypnotic powers, criminal gangs, private mercenaries, romance, and betrayal. …

Overall, great fun. While it is common for the middle of a novel, or the middle book of a trilogy, to drag a bit, that is definitely not the case here. The Crystal Key has everything that made The Hollow Boys work and turns it up a few notches. I can't wait for the conclusion in The Lost Expedition. "

Robert Runté, Ottawa Review of Books

The Crystal Key is available in ebook, trade paperback, and hardcover from all major retailers.

Another great review for The Crystal Key

The Crystal Key, book 2 in my YA / adult crossover urban fantasy trilogy, The Dream Rider Saga, continues to garner critical praise. The latest is from Kirkus Reviews. Some highlights:

"The author’s sequel to the excellent The Hollow Boys (2022) ups the ante for adventure and suspense and continues to deftly fuse superhero and fantasy tropes. The trio of protagonists have relatable inner struggles and compelling story arcs that work well both independently and when woven into the overarching storyline of Will’s parents’ fateful expedition. Smith excels at strong action sequences, worldbuilding (introducing engaging new characters and the concept of the multiverse), and humorous dialogue. …There is plenty here to entice readers to return for the grand finale. A fun and engrossing superhero sequel."

Kirkus Reviews

You can read the entire review here. The Crystal Key is available from all major retailers, and if you haven't yet read the first book in the series, The Hollow Boys, you can find it here.

Wait…I have "Hallmarks"? The Crystal Key an "Editor's Pick"

The Crystal Key coverThe Crystal Key, book 2 in my new YA urban fantasy trilogy, The Dream Rider Saga, has just been selected by BookLife as an Editor's Pick.

BookLife also made The Hollow Boys, book 1 in the trilogy, an Editor's Pick. So they're loving the series so far. You can read the entire review on BookLife, but here are some highlights:

"The richly inventive Dream Rider adventure continues in this second appealing entry, pushing the young heroes of Smith’s epic YA series to face new realms, old villains, wild dangers, and, most terrifying of all, the truths of their pasts."

Epic! Very nice, but then we have this next bit (italics are mine):

"Smith deftly blends ongoing tensions between these characters…with an exciting plot… always enlivened by the Smith hallmarks of crack dialogue, fun sleuthing and puzzle-solving, a strong throughline of emotion, a swift pace…and a principled refusal to settle for the familiar."

Wait. I have "hallmarks" in my writing? Okay, now that is cool. Please, do go on…

"Be ready for memorable beasts, weird magic, and fantasy worlds that are truly fantastic… For all the wonders, though, the series is also compellingly engaged in Toronto street life and its characters’ very human hearts. New readers should start with book one. Takeaway: This thrilling superpowered urban fantasy series continues to grip." —BookLife (Editor's Pick)

"Editor Pick" reviews by BookLife appear in Publisher's Weekly, the main trade magazine for the publishing industry, and in BookList, the journal of the American Library Association.

You can buy The Crystal Key here, and if you haven't read it yet, the first book in the series, The Hollow Boys here.

Please share! The Crystal Key has been released!

The Crystal Key coverToday is the day! March 15!

The Crystal Key, book 2 in my new urban fantasy trilogy, The Dream Rider Saga, and the sequel to The Hollow Boys, released today on all major retailers around the world. If you pre-ordered the ebook, it will appear on your reader today.

If you've been waiting until today to purchase, you can buy The Crystal Key on Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Play, and many more retailers. Click on the link below, then select your preferred site. You'll be taken to that retailer's store in your home geography:
The book is available in ebook, trade paperback, and hardcover editions from multiple retailers. If you want to support your local bookstore, ask them to order the paperback or hardcover from Ingram (the major book distributor to bookstores).

Barnes & Noble has selected The Crystal Key for their "Top Indie Favorites" list for their spring promotions, under the Teen-YA category, a pick supported by early editorial reviews, as well as reader reviews:

Amazon: 5.0
BookBub: 4.9
Goodreads: 4.8
The release price of $2.99 USD will be increasing soon, so buy now before the price goes up! Still need to be convinced? You can read the first three chapters here before buying.
Also, The Dream Rider Saga is one large mystery, one single story, told over the course of three books, with each book building on what went before. That means if you want to enjoy The Crystal Key, you first need to read The Hollow Boys.
To celebrate the release of The Crystal Key, I'm running a one-day sale, today only, where you can buy The Hollow Boys for only $2.99 (reg. $4.99), from any of Amazon, Kobo, B&N, Apple, or Google Play. Click here and select one of those five. Remember: today (March 15) only. You can read the first four chapters of The Hollow Boys here for free before buying.

I'd appreciate any support you can give to spreading the word about The Crystal Key. Feel free to share this post with your friends and fellow readers.

Thanks in advance for any help you can give with making people aware of the book.

Early praise for The Crystal Key (The Dream Rider Saga #2)

The Crystal Key coverThe Crystal Key, the second book in my new urban fantasy trilogy, The Dream Rider Saga, will come out March 15, but it's already getting early praise. It just received a starred review in BlueInk Review. Here's an excerpt:

"The engrossing second installment of Douglas Smith’s Dream Rider Saga trilogy… Smith continues to demonstrate an ability to expertly weave multiple complex fantasy elements into a cohesive whole. … With a measure of tension in the romance between Will and Case, the continued deepening mystery about events in the past, and the teens’ growing supernatural abilities, this fast-paced story delivers in a big way—and Smith has all his ducks lined up for an explosive conclusion that readers won’t want to miss."

Blueink Review (★ Starred review)

You can preorder The Crystal Key now before it drops on March 15. If you want, you can also read the first three chapters before buying.

And if you haven't read The Hollow Boys, book 1 in the series that's been called "a must-read story for fans of YA fantasy," you can find it here.


The Crystal Key is available to preorder!

The Crystal Key coverWell, you didn't have to wait long, did you? The Hollow Boys, book 1 in my young adult / adult crossover urban fantasy trilogy, The Dream Rider Saga, came out just this past October.

Now, book 2 in the series, The Crystal Key, will be released March 15, 2023 (the advantage of writing all three books before releasing any of them). Check out the very cool cover to the right (click on it to see it in its full-size glory).

But you don't have to wait even that long! You can preorder it now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, and Google Play, and many more retailers for just $2.99 USD.

And if you want to sample the book first before buying, you can read the first three chapters here.

That price will be increasing not long after the release date. To preorder at this low price, just click here and select your preferred retailer. You'll be taken to the store for your home country.

The book will also be available in trade paperback and hardcover editions, both online and in bricks and mortar bookstores, but not until the actual release date in March.

Book Description (warning: contains spoilers for book 1, The Hollow Boys):

Will Dreycott is the Dream Rider, the agoraphobic teenage superhero who can walk in our dreams but never in the streets of his city. Case is his girlfriend, a survivor of those streets who hears voices. Fader is her brother, who is very good at disappearing. Together, they defeated a body swapper and a witch to save the world (The Hollow Boys).

Now, Case battles guilt over living sheltered in Will's tower home while her street friends still struggle. Blaming his affliction for Case's sadness, Will searches for a way to live a normal life with the girl he loves—a way to go outside.

But his efforts draw the attention of dark forces. Sinister figures hunt Will in Dream. Intruders scour the vast warehouse of antiquities "acquired" by Will's missing parents. And a masked swordswoman attacks Will, demanding "the Crystal Key" before disappearing into thin air.

Are they all searching for the same thing? Something from Will's parents' shady past? For the swordswoman leaves behind a flowery scent, Will's only memory from the lost expedition eight years ago that gave him powers in Dream but cost him his parents and his freedom.

A trail of dark secrets leads Will, Case, and Fader to a mysterious world. Trapped between warring cults willing to kill for the Crystal Key, the three friends must master strange new powers that grow stronger and wilder the closer they draw to the truth.

This time it's not just the fate of the world at stake…but the multiverse.

Indiana Jones meets Teen Titans in The Dream Rider Saga, a fast-paced urban fantasy trilogy from "one of Canada's most original writers of speculative fiction" (Library Journal).

Praise for The Hollow Boys, Book 1 in The Dream Rider Saga

"An assured, confident novel... A must-read story for YA fantasy fans." —Blueink Review (★ Starred review)

"Inventive, engaging, and boundless fun." —The Ottawa Review of Books

"A fun supernatural tale with well-developed characters and a touch of romance." —Kirkus Reviews

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