I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book in any way.
Publisher: Quill Tree Books
Published: November 2021
Perfect for readers of The Hazel Wood and The Night Circus, this lush and layered story about magic and the captivating power of dreams is delivered with acclaimed author Rebecca Ross’s signature exquisite style.
A curse plagues the realm of Azenor—during each new moon, magic flows from the nearby mountain and brings nightmares to life. Only magicians, who serve as territory wardens, stand between people and their worst dreams.
Clementine Madigan is ready to take over as the warden of her small town, but when two magicians challenge her, she is unwittingly drawn into a century-old conflict. She seeks revenge, but as she secretly gets closer to Phelan, one of the handsome young magicians, secrets begin to rise. Clementine must unite with her rival to fight the realm’s curse, which seems to be haunting her every turn.
This book was a wonderful surprise. I have to say, I wasn’t really sure what I’d be getting into when I started… it’s pitched as being perfect for fans of The Hazel Wood and The Night Circus and, while I really enjoyed the latter, I didn’t have the best time with the former. Luckily, I really enjoyed Dreams Lie Beneath!
I was captured by this book right from the first page and, even though it took a fair bit before I felt like I understood what was going on, I appreciated how the author managed to throw us in right in the middle of the action. I personally find it a slightly dangerous tactic that doesn’t always work out well, but it did in this case. I loved the introduction of dreams and nightmares and slowly unravelling the mystery surrounding the curse that plagues the realm.
The characters were definitely my favourite thing about this book. Clem, the protagonist, in particular is beautifully complex. I loved seeing her grow and mature throughout the book, becoming more confident as the book progresses while at the same time facing her own prejudices and contradictions. I particularly enjoyed the fact that Clem’s journey of self-discovery was such a central part of the book, as were her relationships with the other characters. Family and friendship were central topics too, and I really loved to see how they were developed. There’s romance, there’s betrayal, there’s revenge and there are lots of hidden truths, and all of these elements are woven together in a masterful way to deliver a complex and well-rounded tale.
The magic and the curse were fascinating, and I loved the dream elements. There were a few things in the magic system I wasn’t entirely sure I understood and confused me slightly at times, but I still felt like I got most of it in the end so I wasn’t too fussed about the small details. The worldbuilding was also great, even though there too there were a few minor points I didn’t really get fully.
Despite that, I flew through this and thoroughly enjoyed every page, to the point that I didn’t even notice some of the issues until I sat down to write this review. This was definitely one of my favourite reads this year so far and one of the best YA fantasy books I have read in a while! I’m really looking forward to reading more by this author.