Rating: 4/5 stars
Length: 420 pages
Series: Dead Dreamer, Book 2
Genres: Paranormal, Fantasy, New Adult, Romance, Ghosts, Spirits
Publication date: December 2019
If you set foot in the woods on the night of a new or quarter moon, you leave yourself vulnerable to the creature’s claws. Should you survive the night without a scratch, you will be blessed. But should you be marked, you will perish within a year.
More than ever before, Brenna teeters on the edge between the living and the dead. In her sophomore year at Nephesburg College, she’s more determined than ever to stick to the living side of her life. But with her own soul trying to kill her and a new Dead Dreamer fighting her for power, Brenna can’t help but be drawn back to the land of the dead.
Meanwhile, the Gatekeepers are doing everything in their power to regain the power they once held over the town. With the appearance of mysterious twins, Brenna needs to decide what’s more important: her secret, or fighting for what she believes is right. Brenna knows the stakes are high as her decision might result in her permanent death. Will she be able to choose wisely?
This book gave me more of what I enjoyed in To Dream is to Die. Brenna continues to try and balance her life in the Fade with her year of schooling in Nephesburg. Having been through post secondary myself, I know it’s not always the easiest to balance school with everything else – and that comes from someone who didn’t have to try live in two different planes. And here I thought being on a varsity sports team while balancing a double major was challenging. At least I didn’t have to juggle my soul on top of all of that!
The world continues to be filled with mystery and intrigue, leaving me with more and more questions and wondering how Breanna’s going to get herself out of the mess she’s in. Of course her friends are still there, but there’s only so much that they can do to help. And, of course, Brenna’s a strong personality who’d rather keep the weight on her own shoulders than force those she cares about to deal with the burden.
In this read we see Brenna continue to learn about her powers and what they mean. Having never met anyone with the same abilities as her before coming to Nephesburg, it’s no surprise that Brenna continues to be shocked and awed by the things she finds out. The more she and her friends learn about the powers of the Dead Dreamers, the less they seem to understand about what’s going on around them. It’s true what they say: too much information can make your head spin.
Overall, I enjoyed this read. The speculative elements kept my attention and the questions raised throughout the story keep me coming back for more. I look forward to seeing how Brenna will deal with what comes next and who she’s willing to open up to.
Wilson’s a real piece of work. Yes he thought he was doing the right thing by following his father’s orders and the Gatekeepers. And, yes, he didn’t understand why he was stuck in purgatory after everything he’d done for them. But none of that excuses how dark and twisted he let his soul become. Tormenting the living doesn’t seem like the way to go about things. Sure he thought that he had to get rid of Brenna in order to move on to paradise, but that shouldn’t mean tormenting other people. Yes Aeria and Damon were Brenna’s friends and helping her act against the gatekeepers, and sure that waiter was a disgusting excuse for a human by being a rapist. But Wilson really didn’t need to corrupt his own soul (further) by manipulating them. I guess it’s true that he was past the point of seeing what he was doing was wrong. Corrupting his own soul wasn’t going to get him any closer to paradise.
With all that said, he still didn’t deserve what Lara did to him. Being broken up into pieces and then ripped apart further by sucking him into that orb and then distributing his essence between smaller shards of orb? That’s just cruel and twisted. If you thought the Gatekeepers (and their Guardians) were twisted before this, this’ll blow all expectations out of the water.
Moving on from Wilson, I once again enjoyed seeing what it’s like at a private college in America. At my university, there was an extremely small number of rooms in residences put aside for upper year students. If you weren’t going into your first year and had a guaranteed spot in residence, it quite unlikely that you’d get a room on campus. Instead, most of the student body commuted from home or student houses every day. From what I’ve gathered from friends who went to other universities, this is the norm in Canada. Even our smaller schools tend to have the greatest portion of students living off campus and commuting to classes.
I can’t imagine having to rely on campus food for meals during my entire undergraduate degree. Sure I ate on campus from time to time, but there’s only so many places and types of food you can get on campus. Being restricted to the meal plan for food severely limited choices, and I do love my food. Sure it was nice to know that you had money specifically for food, but I enjoyed the freedom of going off campus to get ramen or a pokeh bowl should I so choose. Raps and fries are great and all, but I can’t imagine living off food like this the whole time. Plus it’s a lot harder to cook meals in residence if you’re not relying on frozen foods (or at least it was in my experience). Mini fridges can only hold so much, and there’s not a lot of storage space in a dorm room. Having the freedom of my own kitchen and cupboards made it a lot easier for me to meal prep while I was still in school. Though the campus’ pulled pork poutine did remain one of my go to on campus meals while I was in school…
Ahem, back to the story at hand.
I really did feel for Aeria in this novel. First semester she felt like she couldn’t be around her best friend. Yes she and her boyfriend still had each other during the time, but it’s not the same when you’re not getting along with a really good friend. Boyfriends are great and all, but it’s a completely different relationship. I’m glad that they figured out it was Wilson messing with them and making them fight as it allowed them to make up. Sure things weren’t perfect after all that, but it allowed them to begin to work through the issues they were having. No relationship is perfect – they all take work – but not having a crazed soul mess with you certainly makes it easier to handle things.
And then, of course, was her “break up” with Damon. Sure it might have been for show, but I can only imagine how hard it is to go from being with someone nearly 24/7 to never seeing or speaking to them. Yes they ended up texting after a while, but it’s not the same as actually being with someone. Thankfully Brenna was able to talk some sense into Aeria and prove to her that Damon wasn’t actually leaving her. It might not have been a way she liked it, but Damon was really just trying to protect Aeria as much as he could.
As much as Aeria doesn’t like Erica, I’m glad that Brenna decided to open up to her at least a little bit. Sure Erica still isn’t part of their inner circle or understand what’s going on, but at least now she isn’t worried about everything being kept from her. Erica’s smart enough to know that Brenna isn’t going to tell her everything, but at least she finally knows enough to try and help Ashley get through what she’s dealing with. While the Gatekeepers might have praised Ashley before, Lara certainly broke her down quickly. I can’t imagine it’s fun being told you’re an abomination and treated like a tool. Still, I hope that Erica is able to be there for her friend. I hope to see her continue to play an increasingly active role in everything that’s happening at Nephesburg. Aeria might still hate her, but I like Erica. She knows what she wants and isn’t scared to push until she gets it. Besides, she’s there when you need her – even when the person who needs her isn’t a good “friend”.
It must be hard for Brenna, having to worry about Maura trying to imprint on everyone around her. The stronger that Maura gets, the more stressed and high strung Brenna seems to be. Rightly so, I’d say. Maura seems to be learning more each time Brenna absorbs the powers from the seals and is getting better at causing harm and mayhem. There’s no way I’d be okay with harming myself the way Brenna seems to just to prove that Maura’s there and she has insanely fast healing. I hate pain too much – even if I do have a high pain tolerance. I don’t think that’d help me against the things that Maura is forcing Brenna to endure.
Speaking of Maura, I can’t help but wonder if she’s the one that the Confederate soldiers were looking for. Is Maura actually Brenna’s soul, or is she another soul trapped inside of Brenna? Or are they actually looking for someone else? Is the “she” that Happy mentioned Brenna’s mother? (I can’t help but think that she was adopted by her family, it would make sense why she’s so different from her sister and parents.) The leader of the raven people?
Finally, who is mailing Brenna from Ireland? Is it her birth mother? The “she” that the soldiers are looking for? I really want to know who it is that’s giving Brenna cryptic advice and calling her Raven. Every time she does that, I imagine DC’s raven – dark and brooding in her purple cape – trying to protect the Fade. While this is an amazing mental image and I adore it, I still can’t help but be curious as to the role the ravens play in this story. It’s clear that they’ve been keeping an eye on Brenna the whole time and have protected her from the Gatekeepers on more than one occasion. I look forward to seeing how everything ties in together.
Other reviews from this series:
- To Dream is to Die (Book 1)