Hi there readers!
How are you today?
Me? Rushed…but what else is new, right? After cramming in as much fun as possible yesterday (twas my birthday… ^_^) while working both jobs, let’s just say I can’t WAIT til FRIDAY. Whew! Oh…and one of my cool presents? A vanity plate for my car…you know, the one you can put on the front bumper? Yep. Mine now says…are you ready? BOOKISH. (hehe) Love it.
Enough about me already; you didn’t come purely for my drivel…you came to read all about what’s been circulating through my “now reading” stacks of late, am I right? Of course I am….and today’s choice will not disappoint. It’s a “spooky-with-a-dash-of-romance” tinged story that shows just how far true love will take you…beyond the borders of life and breath…and explores one persons surprising destiny. Shall we begin? Here we go. Today’s book of choice is….
WARNING: Language (explained around review’s end)
Death's Dream Kingdom is the story of a woman who is ordinary in every way. She's an average mother and wife and is happy living every day mired in the ins and outs of the mundane, until she is murdered. After her death, Cera finds herself lost in a nether land somewhere between life and death where demons, ghosts, and old gods roam the streets preying on the living. In this strange world, Cera is told that she is everything but ordinary. In death, she alone can help heal the rift between worlds and help bridge the gap between life and death. Caught somewhere between her desire to live again and the desire to find heaven, Cera fights those that would pull her into the politics of the netherworld. But the will of the Fates is stronger than Cera's will and Cera quickly finds herself pulled into a quest that will drag her to hell and back and into the arms of an ancient demon lover. She will find that she is a child a Fate and that she alone can challenge Death himself for dominion over his kingdom.
As you may (or may not) be able to tell from the synopsis there, the story is rather heavy…much more so than I first thought when viewing it from the outside. Filled with life and death (and the in-between), gods and goddesses, demons and myths…everything from the light to the darkest dark comes to life as the Fates (yep, they’re in there too) weave their tapestry throughout this tale. It had me pondering whether or not I may have bitten off more than I could chew.
Cera, our leading lady, begins life in a most ordinary way, but it’s ended very suddenly (within the first page or so) leaving her in spirit form to continue on her journey…and although she doesn’t know it, carry out a prophesized upheaval within Death’s Dream Kingdom (the place not the book title, though they are one in the same). It’s a task she’s not prepared for but one that in time will come as naturally to her as breathing albeit much harder thanks to events yet to unfold. One of those events is her meeting the “ruler” of this purgatory-type kingdom, Dismis. Let’s just say this is one fellow (or whatever he was/is) that you DO NOT want to tangle with… ~shudders~ . Second meeting to note (and a much happier one at that) is her introduction to Adewyn. Though she doesn’t know it (yet), he’s the love of her life (lives?) and the connection fostered between them is irrepressible…the stuff legends are made of. There’s neither rainbows nor tiptoeing through the tulips, but there is definitely a love that is felt deeper than most will ever know (*sigh*).
Out of the love fest and into the fire, we have another character whose name will cause you a curious grin…Sin. Sin’s character (a reaper – sorta --, whom Cera encounters just after passing away) is hard to puzzle out as her allegiances are murky at best. One moment she seems friend, next your instincts are screaming foe….the truth is uncovered over the course of the story though, leading to a fitting end and a well of respect for the hardships endured. One of my favorite appearances was the presence of the Fates as I’ve always found their lore most intriguing…complex and a bit scary, yes…but intriguing nonetheless.
As the story does not take place purely in the pre-afterlife (yeah, made that term up…sorry, “writers” licensing and all…), there are numerous other characters to which I can make reference (Cera’s mother, Marcus, Mary, Dr. Blackwell, the gargoyles, etc), but I shan’t….I’ll allow you the chance to discover them on your own for they are a mixed bunch and whilst mostly dark, they have a moral code all their own that adds to the “fun”. It’s a mix of myth, legend, and religion all blended together to make one heck of a brew.
Now I must spend a brief moment on a “not-so-pleasant” thing or two, starting with that WARNING I issued further up in regards to the language. The few sensual scenes are chaste enough, drawing beauty rather than the visuals one might have presumed as the book is toted as a Romance in one of its genre listings…but the language? Oye, my head! It’s no ‘Trespass’ (which if you don’t get that movie reference, I understand…but Google it for a taste of THAT “colorful” film) and most of it is sporadic…during the first half. The second half, in my opinion, is over powered in a few places with vulgar references. To put it somewhat bluntly, just because one is talking with a demon or happens to be one, does not mean you have to call someone vulgar names multiple times in ONE conversation.
Second item on the table for discussion is sentence structure…or what I like to call “run-spot-run” syndrome. A large portion of the text had me wincing to some degree because of the continual use of short sentences. Not sure what I mean? Here’s a make believe example. I looked in the refrigerator. I discovered I needed milk. Soda was also short in supply. I wrote the items on a list. The list went in my purse. When I arrived at the store I looked at the list. See what I mean? It’s a bit too step by step and breaks up the flow of the story for the reader. Again, purely my opinion, and obviously neither “point” was so strong that I had to stop reading (not that I can recall any book I’ve picked up that I’ve had to do that before) but I had to make mention for full disclosures sake…moving on…
Last but not least, something that either gets too much discussion or not enough…the cover image; beautiful is it not? At first glance, I merely saw the young woman at the top looking up (back?) to the heavens for what…I wasn’t certain….and the predominantly red cover. As with most books, there was careful planning when this particular combination was decided upon and after completing my journey through the story, I can now see how they fit together. Did you catch the graveyard in the back image there? How about the expansive river? Each is a piece of the overall puzzle that when finally revealed, brings things to a natural order.
All in all, though I began the book perplexed as to how much I would enjoy the story, in the end…I felt satisfied with the journey taken. It’s a beautiful (the Tree of Life) world that author Jessica Penot has created, though not always in the conventional sense of the word (the Tree of Death). The paths she’s given her characters are riddled with choices and believe you me, there is a right option and a wrong option even if it’s not always clear. The decisions made determine the outcome just as much as the Fates choice in yarn and keep you guessing as to how everything will fit together in the end. A picture perfect masterpiece? Depends on your point of view….but from where I’m sitting, it’s certainly a book worth your notice.
Good deal…and now for a sequel alert!
According to her ‘About Me’ section on the site, she’s currently working on the partner to this book entitled The Lunar Baedeker
Now, if you’re like me, that title makes you curious and after a (semi frustrating) Google search, I’ve discovered what I think may be a link to what we might be seeing in the next installment.
Apparently, ‘Lunar Baedeker’ is a poem by Mina Loy that speaks of hallucination, ladies/men of the night (interpret that as you will) and all manner of devilish creatures offering things one knows is wrong but in such abundance that saying no is VERY hard.
(For a closer look, seek out the poem…or check out this
interpretation I found fairly helpful…)
Anyway you cut it, it should be interesting to say the very least.
Review copy courtesy of author Jessica Penot.
For more information on her complete listing of works as well as current happenings, visit her online (1
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Until next time…happy reading!