Douglas Smith is a five-time award-winning author described by Library Journal as "one of Canada's most original writers of speculative fiction."

His latest work is the multi-award-winning YA urban fantasy trilogy, The Dream Rider Saga (The Hollow Boys, The Crystal Key, and The Lost Expedition). Other books include the urban fantasy novel, The Wolf at the End of the World; the collections, Chimerascope, Impossibilia, and La Danse des Esprits (translated); and the writer's guide Playing the Short Game: How to Market & Sell Short Fiction.

His short fiction has appeared in the top markets in the field, including The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Amazing Stories, InterZone, Weird Tales, Baen's Universe, Escape Pod, On Spec, and Cicada.

"The man is Sturgeon good. Zelazny good. I don't give those up easy." —Spider Robinson, Hugo and Nebula Awards winner

"A great storyteller with a gifted and individual voice." —Charles de Lint, World Fantasy Award winner

"His stories are a treasure trove of riches that will touch your heart while making you think." —Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo and Nebula Awards winner

The Hollow Boys by Douglas Smith


Winner of the 2023 Aurora Award for Best YA Novel

Winner of the 2023 juried IAP Award for Best YA Novel

Vanishing street kids. An ancient evil. The end of the world.

Our only hope? A hero who can't leave home.

At seventeen, Will Dreycott is a superhero…in his dreams. And in yours.

Eight years ago, Will's parents, shady dealers in ancient artifacts, disappeared on a jungle expedition. Will, the sole survivor, returned home with no memory of what happened, bringing a gift…and a curse.

The gift? Will can walk in our dreams. At night in Dream, Will hunts for criminals—and his parents. During the day, his Dream Rider comic, about a superhero no one knows is real, has made Will rich.

The curse? Severe agoraphobia. Will can't go outside. So he makes his home a skyscraper with everything he needs in life—everything but the freedom to walk the streets of his city.

Case, an orphan Will's age, survives on those streets with her younger brother, Fader. Survives because she too has a gift. She hears voices warning her of danger. And Fader? Well, he fades.

When street kids start vanishing, the Dream Rider joins the hunt. Will's search becomes personal when Case breaks into his tower to escape her own abduction. Fader isn't so lucky.

As Will and Case search for Fader and the missing kids, an unlikely romance grows between the boy with everything and the girl with nothing except the freedom Will longs for.

But as they push deeper into the mystery, they confront an ancient power feeding on these forgotten kids to restore itself. And once restored, no one in the world will be safe.

To defeat this creature, Will must do the impossible.

Go outside.

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).


A superhero scared of the outside is an intriguing concept that instantly draws you into this very thrilling and exciting young adult novel. The Hollow Boys: The Dream Rider Saga Book 1 is an unforgettable adventure. – Arizona Tape



  • "Editor's Pick: This arresting series kickoff grips from the start as it introduces its inventive milieu, its flawed but fantastically powered hero, its playful worldbuilding, and a host of tantalizing mysteries. … That's just the start of Smith's vigorously imaginative scenario. … Pacing and prose are tight despite the novel's generous length; the dialogue's crisp and engaging, and the reversals and revelations are cleverly plotted. Smith takes every advantage of his original dreamworld's possibilities, building to a satisfying ending with plenty of mystery left to explore. Takeaway: Thrilling YA fantasy."

    – BookLife
  • "Smith has created a dramatic, vivid fantasy world … The Hollow Boys is an assured, confident novel with strong world-building, sharp dialogue and the perfect balance between action and emotional growth for its main characters. … In short, this is a must-read story for YA fantasy fans."

    – Blueink Review (Starred review)
  • "The Hollow Boys is inventive, engaging, and boundless fun. Teen zombies, Buddhist monks, SWAT teams, Raiders-of-the-Lost-Arc-style warehouses, corporate raiders, a (nonflying) magic carpet, and astral travel... [and] a charming YA romance subplot ... Smith manages to throw all these disparate elements at the story to form a truly cohesive universe in which to set his tale. ... I enjoyed The Hollow Boys a great deal, turning pages long after I should have been abed."

    – The Ottawa Review of Books




Chapter 1: When I Live My Dream

At seventeen, Will Dreycott was a superhero.

In his dreams.

Happily for Will, right now, he was dreaming.

To start his night as the Dream Rider, he "awoke" as usual on the Bed of Awakening in the House of Four Doors. Will knew he wasn't really waking. He was asleep. But entering Dream always felt as if he had finally woken up. As if his time spent in the "real" world was time spent asleep, waiting to return here.

To return to Dream. To be the Dream Rider.

Brian, his favorite Doogle, waited for him. The creature sat beside the bed, its head on the covers, staring at Will.

Doogles were dog-shaped—sort of. Kind of like a Dalmatian, white with black splotches, or the other way around. But with a snout like an anteater, ears like a koala, and eyes like an owl.

Big nose, big ears, and big eyes. The better to smell, hear, and see you with, little girl. Or old man. Or middle-aged woman. Or whoever or whatever Will set his Doogles to search for in Dream.

Okay, so they weren't much like dogs at all. But they were his creations, his logical constructs in Dream, and he thought of them as his dogs.

Dogs that searched.


Will stood and looked around. The House changed each night. Tonight, it was a round, domed chamber of white marble with dark wooden doors of varying shapes—rectangular, round, oval, and square. The four doors were carved with writings in Latin. Or Greek. Or something. Languages weren't his strongest school subject.

He scratched Brian behind his ears. "Evening, Bry. I missed you, buddy." In reply, Brian curled his long, whip-like tail into a spiral, a Doogle display of happiness.

Will tugged at the costume hugging his slim frame, again regretting the form-fitting spandex. But by now, hundreds of millions of people recognized the Rider—and that recognition gave him power in Dream. Too late to change his appearance.

Besides, the costume looked cool. It was black as the night sky, its surface speckled with blazing red comets with silver tails. Gray clouds drifted over his chest, obscuring then revealing the moon behind them. The moon, which changed phases like the real one, was full and bright tonight.

A black cloak, its hood currently thrown back, completed the look. A jeweled clasp in the shape of a twelve-pointed crystal star fastened the cloak at his neck.

Yeah. Cool.

He considered the four doors the House presented tonight. Which to choose?

"Nyx!" he called.

A cloud of gray mist the size of a beach ball formed before him. Inside the cloud, a woman's face appeared—blue skin, violet eyes, and long, purple hair floating around her head. She was striking, but too sharp-featured to call beautiful.

Seeing Will, Nyx rolled her eyes. "Really? You again?"

"Uh, since you're my subconscious, who did you expect?"

She pursed dark blue lips. "Someone better looking? I mean, a girl can dream, can't she?"

"You are dreaming."

"Have you ever wondered why your subconscious appears to you as female?"

"I'm in touch with my feminine side. Just give me the data file I prepared on the missing little girl, please."

"Lisa Carter? Well, at least you bothered me for a good reason. Here."

He held out his hand. A crystal sphere the size of a baseball appeared with a "pop," dropping into his palm. Inside the sphere, words, numbers, and images scrolled and tumbled, appearing and disappearing.

"May I go now, oh Great Master?"

"Please. And lose the sarcasm," he said. Nyx made a rude sound and disappeared.

He offered the data ball to Brian. "Here you go, boy. It's everything I know about Lisa."

The Doogle bent his snout up to sniff at the sphere. A long black tongue shot out, wrapping around the ball and sucking it into his mouth.

Brian swallowed the ball. Sparks of light danced in his black eyes. He began a circuit of the House. After sniffing at each door, he returned to the oval one, cocking his round ears forward. His tail sprang straight up, then bent into an arrow shape pointed at that door.

Will walked up to him. "You sure?"

Brian's tail whipped out, smacking Will on the leg before forming the arrow again.

"Okay, okay. Don't get grouchy." He patted Brian's head. "We have to be sure, pal. Tonight may be our only chance to find her before…" He didn't finish. Before it was too late. Before Lisa Carter was dead.

He pulled up the hood of his costume. Now anyone meeting him in Dream would see only blackness where his face should be. A blackness no light could penetrate.

He grabbed his skateboard from beside the bed. Across its black surface, constellations spun behind a thin veil of cloud. He touched the door. It swung open, and he stepped into Dream, Brian at his heels.