September 24, 2023

Novel Lives

Book Publicity, Reviews, Author Interviews, and Discussion Posts by Susan Crosby

4 Star Review of Dreaming Darkly by Caitlin Kittredge- Out April 9th

Dreaming Darkly by Caitlin Kittredge is a dark gothic mystery begins just after Ivy’s mother has committed suicide. With a grandmother who is in an asylum and her mother having tried to kill her, you can’t blame Ivy for not feeling much grief or loss. Nor being shocked to find she has an uncle living on an island off the coast of Maine who is willing to take her in until she is of age.

Dreaming Darkly

Thank you to Katherine Tegen Books and Edelweiss for an Arc in exchange for a fair review.

If you have read anything by Stephen King, you know going to an island off the coast of Maine cannot bode well for anyone. Add to that a clash between Ivy’s family and the only other family on the island. Not that you can blame them. Ivy’s grandfather did kill six people and your stomach is turning right off the bat.

Kittredge like many great authors doesn’t leave the island to waste as just a setting. She brings it to life as a character by showing not just telling it through description. The huge house is brought to life in its foreboding. The island’s menacing presence is always lurking with a mysterious aura that breathes down the neck of every character’s movement, thought and conversation.

Ivy as a character begins to slip into a place where it is hard to trust her perception of what is happening around her. Ivy can’t tell, and so it becomes murky for readers as well, whether she is having realistic dreams or hallucinations. Coinciding with these “episodes” is the unraveling of her mother’s life on this island.

Ivy doesn’t know if she’s slowly heading down a path of mental instability that runs in her family. Or if there is a darker force at work that is trying to keep her from a buried truth.

Do you have to suspend disbelief to enjoy this book? Yes. However, it is Sci-Fi/Fantasy and that is true of the genre. Does it cross the line into where you are beyond the ability to do so? Absolutely not. If you go with the genre as intended it is an easy, enjoyable read that will keep you glued to your seat until the last mystery unfolds.

Once we hit the climax of the book everything felt rushed and the pacing falters. The climax hit with a bang and was interwoven with the plot twists at a furious pace. The resolution(s) were also thrown in there at as it all avalanched furiously to the ending.

The atmospheric set-up of the plot would have been paid justice by having it unfold with the same intentionality. For a well built, well-paced dark and gothic thriller, it was jarring for the climax and resolution to collide into a brick wall.

Otherwise, this is an excellent book that I would recommend to anyone who likes a dark, gothic book layered with multiple mysterious plot twists. That has a main character that is unsure of what is happening to her and whose point of view can’t always be trusted.

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