Acquired: ARC via Netgalley
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Published: 12 May 2015 by Solaris
Lovecraftian urban fantasy, but it’s Lovecraft with all the worst excesses taken out.
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 don’t read enough stories that follow people in their 20s. I enjoy urban fantasy because magic, choices and life often collide in a realistic way. I found Liz’ sense of loss, isolation and confusion to be so relatable but I also really wanted to provide a safety net for some of these characters as they spiralled inwardly.
Dreams of Shreds and Tatters is a grim urban fantasy with mythological beings and atmospheric writing. The dream world reminded me of a very grown up take on the Labyrinth. The rescue mission is heartfelt and slow. These flawed characters stumbled into a strange world of power and unequal exchanges.
I found the story shone the most when Liz and Blake were the main narrating voices among the multiple narrators. (Although Lailah was an intriguing character. I’d be happy to read a novel/novella that explores her back story.) The characters’ relationships are mature and complicated with a heady dose of angst. There are many LGBT characters in the main cast but everyone’s romantic relationships took on a gritty or grim route. There’s a sense of elitism and snobbery among the art student/gallery crowd but Alex’s occasional wry humour was the saving grace in those scenes.
I encountered (and googled) some unfamiliar words. Eg. Apoxia, susurru, cilice etc. However, I have a fondness for words so I’m always up for a challenge. This is definitely a haunting story. I hope the characters discover more hope beyond the ending.