Published by Solaris on May 12th 2015
Genres: Dark Fantasy, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Urban
Source: the Publisher
Buy on Amazon, Buy at Foyles
Lovecraftian urban fantasy, but it's Lovecraft with all the worst exceses taken out. Beautifully written and brilliantly paced.When Liz Drake's best friend vanishes, nothing can stop her nightmares. Driven by the certainty he needs her help, she crosses a continent to search for him. She finds Blake comatose in a Vancouver hospital, victim of a mysterious accident that claimed his lover's life--in her dreams he drowns. Blake's new circle of artists and mystics draws her in, but all of them are lying or keeping dangerous secrets. Soon nightmare creatures stalk the waking city, and Liz can't fight a dream from the daylight world: to rescue Blake she must brave the darkest depths of the dreamlands. Even the attempt could kill her, or leave her mind trapped or broken. And if she succeeds, she must face the monstrous Yellow King, whose slave Blake is on the verge of becoming forever.
I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Continuing the tradition of Lovecraft and Chambers, the latest novel from Amanda Downum ‘Dreams Of Shreds And Tatters’ is a mindbogglingly terrifying journey into dreamland. But is it worth the trip?
Liz Drake has a feeling that something is wrong, and when you have empathic tendencies and the ability to enter Dreamland in your sleep and walk among it’s residents, you tend to act on those ominous thoughts. So when she can’t get hold of her best friend Blake, she travels across Canada to try and find him and ease her fears. Unfortunately, she finds Blake in a Vancouver hospital, comatose, the victim of a mysterious drowning that claimed his lover Alain. Along with her partner Alex, Liz familiarises herself with Blake’s circle of friends, a group of artists with occult leanings, and soon discovers that Blake was manipulated into messing with uncontrollable forces.
Meanwhile, young street-kid Rae is living with her boyfriend who deals an hallucinogenic called mania, which she’s prone to using as well. Along with emphasising her abilities to see peoples auras it also brings out the dark shadows, filled with monsters which taunt and scare Rae. Soon Rae and Liz’s worlds collide, the monsters become scarier and Liz’s trips last longer and are ever more vivid. What effect will mania have on them, and will Liz ever rescue Blake from the dark void known as Carcosa?
Amanda Downum doesn’t mess around. Right from the first chapter we’re flung into a bizarre, almost hypnotic world of unscrupulous art gallery owners, nasty dealers, and strange goings on among the shadows. Unfortunately, as brilliant as Downums world building is, ultimately, ‘Dreams Of Shreds And Tatters‘ is a bit of a let down. To start with, Downum clearly has a vast vocabulary and an imaginative way with words, but for every evocative passage that works, there are several that jar or just take too long to portray the simplest action. Character descriptions are the worst; the reader is presented with every minute detail about how a character looks or what they are doing, and the most annoying thing is it’s often at the sacrifice of the characters personality. Many times we’re told how bandages show ‘rusty spots’ or veins ‘run black’ but the nuts and bolts of the characters feelings and emotions are left for the reader to try and gauge for themselves. It’s a crying shame, as I said previously, the world Downum has created is superb, full of atmosphere in both the realms of fantasy and reality, but because of the lack of emotional insight into the characters, I finished the book with no real impression of any of them.
It’s not an easy read either, and one I struggled to read more than a few chapters of at a time before my attention wavered. Again that’s a combination of lacking emotional attachment and the overly wordy prose. I adore HP Lovecraft and he’s obviously a huge influence on Downum, I’ve no issue with complex novels or horror (the novel is quite visceral in places) and I’ve devoured books in this genre since my teens. But this did nothing for me. I presume this is the first of a series as the novel ends with many plot aspects unresolved. At least I hope it is, or you can add that to several appalling continuity errors as aspects that really should have been picked up by the editor.
All in all ‘Dreams Of Shreds And Tatters‘ isn’t a bad novel, but it could have been so much more, especially when the writer continues the famous saga of ‘The King In Yellow‘ encompassing the history and mythos that it entails.