Monday, December 06, 2010

Review: In Dreams Begin

In Dreams Begin
Skyler White

Series or Stand Alone: Harrowing series, book two [Separate stories in the same world]

Release Date: November 2010

Publisher: Berkley Trade

Pages: 375

Author Site:

My Rating: 3.25/5

Source: Received for review from author


“Close your eyes tightly—tightly—and keep them closed . . .”
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 siècle 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.
Skyler White's writing has a unique lyrical quality to it. After reading and Falling, Fly (read my review here) last year I noticed how mind-consuming her words could be. When I say that I mean her writing really engages a reader's mind. I've found some people don't like that quality while other's really seem to like it. So basically, you either like her style of writing or you don't. I enjoyed and Falling, Fly. It was entirely different than books I've read before and the plot line was so interesting and well-written. In Dreams Begin has the same lyrical quality that makes the writing flow like music or poetry...however, I found I didn't quite enjoy this novel as much as her first.

I'm not too familiar with W.B. Yeats, Maude Gonne, their lives or the history of I was going into this novel with not a lot of expectations. The synopsis sounded pretty interesting so I didn't feel like their was anything to lose. And while I didn't fall in love with the book it still had a lot of great aspects that made me enjoy reading.

The story is about Laura, a modern day woman, who wakes up on her wedding night in an Irish freedom fighter's body about one hundred years in the past. Ida Jameson is dreadfully plain and easily overlooked. She desperately wants to become apart of the occult world and be accepted as an equal if not master of the craft. It is when she and her friend, Maud Gonne, start to experiment that she calls Laura's soul into Maud's body. After realizing her mistake, Ida sees a chance to gain acceptance and knowledge from the occult leaders. She sets out to use her newly acquired "friend" to prove her power.

But when that doesn't work Ida quickly becomes somewhat unbalanced. She is soon consumed by a dark need to have the very things she can never really possess: Maud's beauty, a place in the occult world, or the handsome daemon she falls in love with in Hell. I found I really became engrossed in Ida's story. She's entirely wicked but I almost felt pity for her. She is a cruel and desperate woman but really only wants to know things. I believe it is her passion for learning that destroys the kindness in her and drives her to the unhappy fate that awaits her.

While Ida spirals into the twisted path of the occult, Laura (in Maud's body) meets and falls in love with W.B. Yeats. Thus begins a love affair that lasts decades in Yeats' time period but only days for Laura. The time-traveling aspect of the novel was entirely interesting. I mean I'm not too familiar with time-travel fiction but I thought it was such a great and unique addition to the story. Although the love between Laura and Yeats was somewhat selfish in my opinion, I still found it heart-breaking that so much time separated the two. And I say selfish only because Laura's new husband is entirely wonderful. He is very much in love Laura and ends up displaying it in great lengths during the story. So I did find myself somewhat angry at Laura at times. But who am I to judge love? No one can help who they fall in love with. And besides Laura does love her husband. She just happened to love two different men in two different time periods. *shrugs* Could happen to anyone =)

Maud is sort of just a "tool" in the story. Her body is used by Ida, Laura, and Yeats and while I didn't really love her personality I still think Maud got the crap end of the stick to put it bluntly. But like I said, Maud's character didn't really grab my attention anyway. I did find it hard to grasp the concept that Yeats and Laura could look past the fact that it was really Maud's body Laura was in while the two were together. I just think I'd have a tough time overlooking that little detail if I were in Laura's or Yeats' position.

I had much going on personally while reading In Dreams Begin so I think I didn't really come to appreciate the novel for what it was. I had trouble grasping certain things and found my brain just wouldn't quite connect with some of the passages. But I still enjoyed it very much and I think a re-reading is in order sometime in the future. Skyler White delivers another uniquely written story that promises quite an experience. I have no problem recommending this along with her earlier novel and Falling, Fly. It will definitely be a journey for you.


Blodeuedd said...

wow sounds confusing, but yes she can't help it if she loved two men in two different time periods..even if it is freaky ;)

Mishel (P.S. I Love Books) said...

a bit confusing but still enjoyable. I'm glad you agree about the loving two men thing... It sucks, but it happens.

❤Stephanie! said...

This book sounds really good! The two different men in different eras thing is a little odd, but it would make an interesting read :)


Vivien said...

I think this book sounds intriguing. Great review.

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