To Dream is to Die by Sarah Lampkin

Rating: 3.75/5 stars To Dream is to Die.jpg

Length: 296 pages

Series: Dead Dreamer, Book 1

Genres: Paranormal, Fantasy, New Adult, Romance

Publication date: August 27, 2012, January 8, 2019 (Parliament House)


“Well, that’s one hell of a trick.”

I tried to play the stupid card. “What are you talking about?”

Damon closed the door quietly behind him and walked over to Erica’s desk chair to sit down. “Oh, I don’t know, leaving your body whenever you want? I’ll admit it was the first time I’ve seen that. I knew there was something different about you.”

If murder weren’t a crime, I’d kill him. “What do you want, Damon?”

(Ch. 3)

Brenna Whit expected freshman year of college to give her a new start and let her meet new people. However, she hides a dark secret. An accident that happened to her three years prior resulted in her spirit leaving her body and wandering the Fade whenever she sleeps. When someone spots her in spirit form, Brenna fears that her secret is out. Trying to balance new friends, a new crush, and possible new enemies, Brenna has a hard time juggling her first year of college.

The premise if this story is what originally drew it to my attention. What would it be like to be able to walk the plane of the dead before you yourself have died, to experience things that no one does before permanent death, all while waking up in the morning in order to go about your life?

Brenna might have been dealing with her nightly activities for three years before college, but she still wasn’t prepared for what Nephesburg was going to throw at her. Getting to experience everything with her, to be along for the ride while she learns where her powers come from and how she can use them, was a fascinating tale. To learn that there’s more to this world than Brenna expected and to know that even more is to come was a great way to peak a reader’s attention.

While this book has a slow start to it, I believe that it’s worth pushing through to when things pick up. If you’re looking for a unique young adult tale with speculative elements to it, this is a good book to pick up. The creation of the intricacies of this world are enough to keep me coming back for more. Lampkin did a fantastic job with this first installation of Brenna’s story and I, for one, look forward to reading more about it.



*Spoilers ahead*

I have to admit, Brenna’s experiences in post secondary certainly are different from mine. For one, I never had a split soul that was trying to kill me. Or a roommate hate my guts… or a crush try to kill me because I’ve been torturing him in his sleep. I actually got away with all that. Bwa ha ha.

Jokes aside, putting away the speculative parts of this tale, Brenna’s post secondary experience is much different than mine was. While I didn’t move into my residence until a couple of months into my first year (instead, I lived off campus with a friend for a bit), I did have a roommate for most of my first year. I certainly got along with my roommate better than Brenna got along with Erica at the beginning of the school year. We also didn’t have bunk beds in our room, but some residences on campus did so I know how cramped these rooms can feel with two teenage girls living in them.

Looking further than Brenna’s living situation, her classroom experience was also much different than mine. Granted, I went to a school much larger than Nephesburg College and my first year courses were more likely to have upwards of two hundred students in them than the thirty that Brenna was experiencing. But even more than that, my first year “general” courses were still more specific than what Brenna was experiencing. Sure I could have taken some courses outside of the program I was accepted for, but I never did get a “general” first year of post secondary schooling that way that Brenna did. I understand that schooling in the States is different from what I experienced in Canada and I really did find it interesting to see how a truly general first year of post secondary could be. (Again, putting aside the Dead Dreamer aspect of things and looking at it in a purely academic way.)

I found it interesting that Brenna had an advisor in her first year. While it’s true that I’ve been in smaller classes (between twenty and thirty students like Brenna was experiencing), these generally occurred in my upper years of university. It wasn’t until these specialized courses that our professors were considered to be advisors – and then only when it was a research based course and the professor was advising us in specific research projects and goals. While working on a thesis project for a degree we’d have advisors, but otherwise they were generally referred to as professors. It was interesting for me to read about a different schooling system, one with much more intimate class sizes and teaching styles.

Looking at the speculative parts of this book, I’m looking forward to seeing how Brenna, Aeria, and Damon are going to deal with everything in their second year at Nephesburg. I hope that Erica gets brought into the fold, even though Aeria despises her. It’s clear that she has no ill feelings towards Brenna even if they didn’t live well together. I truly think that she’d be an asset in their mission.

I also can’t wait to see what role Marie plays in this series. It’s clear that she’s a Watcher like Damon, but isn’t willing to talk about her powers. Will she be recruited by the Gatekeepers, or will she end up helping Brenna and her friends in their plan to stop the Gatekeepers from trapping the demons? I hope it’s the latter, because Marie seems like an interesting addition to the group.

Of course, Brenna is going to have to explain her spirit walking to Marie if she does end up joining the gang. I hope she ends up taking it as well as Aeria did and much better than Mike did. Of course, doing this might just chase her into the arms of the Gatekeepers.

I also hope that Maura doesn’t do Mike too much damage. He’s already turned to alcohol and drugs to deal with the fact that he was being tortured, I can’t imagine the lengths that he’ll go to if Maura keeps on messing with him. I truly believe that Maura chose to torture Mike because of Brenna’s crush on him, even if that’s not the conclusion that Brenna came to in regards to things. She spent enough time denying it to herself, there was no way that she was going to admit to her crush being the cause of his downfall, not with the guilt that would come with the admission.

Speaking of people that Maura tortured, I hope that Principal Spire is still kicking. Sure Maura punched her fist through Spire’s chest, but that couldn’t have taken the spirit down… right? Having an adult on their side, even a dead one, was certainly helpful to Brenna’s cause. Sure Spire was cryptic with her advice and help, but she was still there when Brenna needed her.

And, of course, I look forward to seeing how Wilson and Ashley will impact the story going forward. Is Ashley now a Dead Dreamer like Brenna? Or did they get to her in time? And if Wilson succeeded in creating another Dead Dreamer, he’s still stuck hanging around, right? His unfinished business couldn’t have been as easy as that.

This story left me with more questions than I had answers to. Thankfully, To Wake the Dead is out and holds at least some of the answers I’m looking for. Here’s to finding out more about Brenna and her quest to protect the demon doors from the Gatekeepers.



Other reviews in this series:

  1. To Wake the Dead (Book 2)

2 thoughts on “To Dream is to Die by Sarah Lampkin

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