Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Early Critique: "Dreams of Shreds and Tatters" by Amanda Downum

Disclaimer: I was given a free advanced e-copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My opinion remains as forthright as ever.

To Be Published: May 12th

This is a genuinely dark urban fantasy that flirts with horror at points. It reminded me of several books I've read before: Tithe by Holly Black, which is a YA favorite of mine, and American Gods by Neil Gaiman, which held greater similarity due to the inclusion of mythology. Although I was led to believe I may have accidentally stumbled onto a YA book by requesting this, it turns out all the characters are mid-twenties and the other content suggests this would be more suitable for adults.

It isn't often you have books including artists as their main cast of characters, but when you do, you can expect some tropes. That would be true of the characters in this book- drug-addicted artists who don't realize what they're getting into until their charismatic fearless leader drops the net on them. Although they aren't all how you'd expect them to be, I never really felt I knew most of them by the time the book was over.

The Plot: (As Seen on Goodreads)
'When Liz Drake's best friend vanishes, nothing can stop her nightmares. Driven by the certainty he needs her help, she crosses a continent to search for him.
'She finds Blake comatose in a Vancouver hospital, victim of a mysterious accident that claimed his lover's life--in her dreams he drowns. Blake's new circle of artists and mystics draws her in, but all of them are lying or keeping dangerous secrets. Soon nightmare creatures stalk the waking city, and Liz can't fight a dream from the daylight world: to rescue Blake she must brave the darkest depths of the dreamlands. Even the attempt could kill her, or leave her mind trapped or broken.
'And if she succeeds, she must face the monstrous Yellow King, whose slave Blake is on the verge of becoming forever.'

The plot, although not entirely enthralling, held my attention throughout the book. Some of the same themes from Tithe popped up in this book: a girl out to save her male friend (who happens to be gay) from whatever sinister force holds him. But other than that, there weren't a lot of plot similarities to other books- just a lot of strange mythological references that made you feel like you were caught in a nightmare.

One dazzling thing this book has to offer is excellent phraseology- the author clearly has a way with words. I hate it when I read a book that feels like its written exactly the same as a previous one I've read before, so the original wordsmithery was a major plus. I usually loathe excess description, but during the few times the author lapsed into it, I was impressed rather than distressed by it.

Dreams of Shreds and Tatters is a beautifully penned, mythology-riddled urban fairy tale. The main weaknesses I felt the story had were in character portrayals- most of the characters remained strangers to me throughout the entire book. Nonetheless, this book will appeal to anyone who likes eerie tales of modern life that spawn portals to other realms. I recommend this to those who love authors who use their words artistically, and don't mind darker urban fantasy.

Rating: 3 of 5 Stars for an artistically influenced story of twisted love.

Content: Ages 18+ for sexual references, drugs, and rock 'n' roll art world horror (violence and gore).

Page Count: 256 pages

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