Review: IN DREAMS BEGIN by Skyler White

IN DREAMS BEGIN by Sklyer White

From a Victorian Ireland of magic, poetry and rebellion, Ida Jameson, an amateur occultist, reaches out for power, but captures Laura Armstrong, a modern-day graphic artist instead. Now, for the man or demon she loves, each woman must span a bridge through Hell and across history . . . or destroy it.

"Every passionate man is linked with another age, historical or imaginary,
where alone he finds images that rouse his energy." W. B. Yeats

Anchored in fact on both sides of history, Laura and Ida, modern rationalist and fin de sicle occultist, are linked from the moment Ida channels Laura into the body of celebrated beauty and Irish freedom-fighter Maud Gonne. When Laura falls--from an ocean and a hundred years away--passionately, Victorianly in love with the young poet W. B. Yeats, their love affair entwines with Irish history and weaves through Yeats's poetry until Ida discovers something she wants more than magic in the subterranean spaces in between.

With her Irish past threatening her orderly present and the man she loves in it, Laura and Yeats--the practical materialist and the poet magus--must find a way to make love last over time, in changing bodies, through modern damnation, and into the mythic past to link their pilgrim souls . . . or lose them forever.
Publisher: Berkley Trade

Genre: Dark Fantasy

Single Title/Series: IN DREAMS BEGIN is book two in the Harrowing series but can easily be read as a stand alone novel.

Cover Thoughts: I like it, its pretty but I would have liked to have seen more plot elements portrayed. The cover, disappointingly, doesn't alert the reader at all to what lies beneath.

Why I Read It: I received a review copy from the author.

My Review:

Laura, a newlywed, is under a lot of pressure. Tonight is her wedding night but the honeymoon has been postponed due to an opportunity to make a name for her small graphic design studio. Now, instead of traveling through Italy with her wonderful new husband, Laura has a week to make the biggest marketing pitch of her career to date. It's perhaps no wonder than that on her wedding night, Laura is consumed by restless and absurd dreams.

Believing at first that she's dreaming, Laura finds herself strangely trapped in another woman's body. Even more curious, she's been mentally transported into the Victorian era. Thinking that her subconscious must be feeling repressed to have conjured a room and clothes straight from Victorian times, Laura easily convinces herself that what she sees before her must be a dream. But the woman peering crazily into her eyes and crying out that Laura's a daemon, definitely doesn't believe her to be dreaming.

Ida Jameson, striving desperately to be accepted into the occult world, is experimenting with her childhood friend, Maud Gonne, when their seance suddenly goes completely wrong, setting into motion the garish events to come. Hoping to channel Maud's father, instead a strange soul overtakes Maud's body. Terrified at first, Ida knocks her friend out while she thinks what she's to do when an idea dawns on her that this is a test. Surely if the leaders of the occult could see for themselves what she's done, they'll initiate her and grant her the magical knowledge she so desperately seeks but has thus far been denied. 

A woman consumed by jealousy, Ida morphs from a petty opportunist to woman with a deep black pit that can be never filled with the happiness and power she craves. At the beginning, Ida uses Maud's possessed body as proof of her fledgling power. From there she strives to channel her own soul into Maud in an attempt to possess Maud's coveted beauty. When this fails, she then strives to follow Maud's wandering soul to be in Hell with the handsome devil she falls in love with. Not caring who she hurts, Ida goes to the cruelest extent to bring her daemon lover to life in the physical world.

During this time, Laura, possessing Maud's body when she sleeps, falls helplessly in love with the poet Yeats. Recognizing Laura for who she truly is while wrapped in the flesh of another, the two embark on a doomed love affair for as time unravels in one day increments for Laura, Yeats experiencing years, sometimes decades of loneliness while he awaits one more stolen moment.

Finally, Laura feels incredible guilt for her love of Yeats while a newlywed to a truly wonderful man. She grapples endlessly with questions of whether or not her encounters with another, even while only in her astral form, could be considered adultery. Everything comes hurling to a conclusion that doesn't satisfy or make this reading journey any where near worthwhile.

My Final Thoughts:

In contrast to White's debut earlier this year, IN DREAMS BEGIN holds not a flame to the engrossing darkness and mysticism of its predecessor. Instead, this reader closed the book with a sour taste. What is it that I've just read? What concept is White trying to reveal? What moral am I to learn from this jumbled plot? Perhaps in Ida's case, it's that jealousy is not a trait one should nurture having watched her fail time and again only to grow uglier and more crazed in her desperation for that which she'll ultimately never have. Truly, out of the entire cast of characters, it is only in Ida that the reader can find any type of character evolution. The rest are nothing but window dressing to the tale of this one evil soul.

And to clear up a raging misconception for romance lovers, IN DREAMS BEGIN is not a romance. The blurb hails a deeply romantic love that transcends time but truly, there is nothing romantic about this tale. In truth there's nothing that even whispers of heroics or love between Laura and Yeats. Yes, their selfish, all consuming fascination for one another does transcend time but it's not romantic in any sense of the word and while I have many reasons I'll give you the most romance debunking of them all: Yeats, a poet and hopeless romantic lost all of my trust when he makes love to Maud's body without her knowledge as she's possessed by Laura. Yuck! And shame on Laura for allowing a man to take advantage of another woman's body no matter if her soul has currently taken possession. Shame on them both!  These are two cruel and careless beings who care for no one but their own warped desire.

*sigh* In truth, I felt zero connection to any character except perhaps Ida. While evil yes, she's been dealt a fairly cruel set of cards in addition to the fact that she's absolutely crazy, but her journey is the most detailed and the most interesting for truly she's the only character to evolve. I've said that once before but it merits another mention. With regards to the rest, I felt pity and sadness for Maud for she's merely a pawn throughout the novel and she's carelessly used by Ida, Laura and Yeats. And finally, I felt anger and resentment towards Laura and Yeats for they seemed the most human but also the most cruel in their complete disregard for Maud and her body.

Of course, it's possible that my thoughts are mere misconceptions and that my own personal roadblocks prevented me from appreciating this novel. I recognize that I may have in fact completely missed the mark here, but I can only explain that which I feel and in this case it's disappointment.

White's writing is still something to experience for her words are assembled in the most unique fashion. And while I have no trouble recommending her debut of AND FALLING, FLY, I can't in all good conscience recommend IN DREAMS BEGIN. If you want to experience this author, and I think one should, pick up AND FALLING, FLY and if you're still feeling adventurous, then dive into IN DREAMS BEGIN at your own behest.

More Reviews:

Books and Things: 3/5
Bite Club
Book Faery: 5/5
Fangtastic Books: 4.25/5
Escape Between The Pages: 4/5
Sara's Urban Fantasy Blog: 3.5/5
Anna's Book Blog: 3/5


Smokinhotbooks said...

Dark Fantasy kind of scares me *bites nails*

Lover of Romance said...

Cool review!!! Probably won't end up reading this one if its not really a romance, but thanks for posting!! Its always good to have misconceptions cleared up!!

Mandi said...

I enjoyed And Falling, Fly.

This one I agree - I couldn't even finish. This book is just not for ME. I only made it 1/3 of the way in - didn't like the characters, the storyline....nothing.

VampFanGirl said...

LOL, KC! Yeah, this one is frighteningly disappointing. ;)

Hugs, VFG


Thanks Love of Romance!

I'm so disappointed how the blurb hinted toward this timeless love when there was nothing of the sort. Not cool.

Hugs, VFG


Hey Mandi!

Finally! Someone who has read it and feels the same way I do. I swear, when I was researching review links to add, everyone seemed to be lovin' this one but me. I thought I missed something...but now I feel better. ;)

Hugs, VFG

Blodeuedd said...

Oh no, sad :(
But like you said, perhaps this is love or not love

VampFanGirl said...

Yeah, totally disappointed with this one Blodeuedd...but I still recommend White's debut, AND, FALLING FLY.

Hugs, VFG

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