My rating: Outstanding adventure!
Disclaimer: I didn’t know this was a novella until I saw the number of pages. I don’t read a lot of novellas, because I prefer more time to get sucked into a different world.
I loved this one.
The plot was fast-paced, and there were no lags or info-dumps. The novella starts with the Jesse Davison’s return to her hometown after she ran away ten years ago to escape a horrible accident. She has come back to sell her father’s house and resolve some of her longstanding issues. She is a Dream Runner, which means she takes dreams to people who need them. These are desperate people, willing to do anything to have a dream of redemption, revenge, love, hope… and they all must pay an unnamed price for their dreams.
The being who sends the dreams is mysterious and otherworldly, and exacting in her requirements of her Runners. Never is Jesse permitted to refuse the Dream Merchant.
Jesse’s past is spooled out as the plot progresses, using Jesse’s memories and dreams to neatly hint at what drives her, so that the reader is ultimately left with a complete understanding at the end of the events that led up to the beginning of the tale. Closely intertwined with the hints about her past is the current action, and a lot happens in these 50 pages!
Relationships are complicated, characters are realistic, and the world unique and convincing, if strange. Jesse is a normal young woman, troubled by her past and her present duties to the Dream Merchant. She is not unique, or special, or a Chosen One – she is just a young woman making her way as best she can. She is refreshing. Most of the world is the same as our own, except for everything revolving around Dreams. This makes the world easier to understand and more interesting at the same time. Like Jesse, it is easy to relate to this world. Dark undercurrents of addiction, dissatisfaction, and despair run through the narrative as Jesse tries to make amends for her past.
It must be challenging to introduce readers to a complex, new world in under 100 pages, without confusing them by leaving out information or telling too much. Schafer does an excellent job. I tore through this one, and I can find no fault with it.
Do you like your contemporary fiction a little twisted? Are you looking for a new kind of dark urban fantasy? Do you want to know what the consequences might be to bartering for a dream that could give you your heart’s desire every time you dream it? This is the novella for you.
*eARC via NetGalley
For another tale about a young heroine with dark powers and a duty to an otherworldly being, try:
For another normal-ish young woman just trying to get by in a world that is slightly (okay, more) different from our own, check out:
Do you know any books where dreams have power? Please share!