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Dreaming Death: A Palace of Dreams Novel Paperback – February 2, 2016
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From Publishers Weekly
After a daunting amount of historical/cultural background, this series launch turns out to be a straightforward psychic-thriller romance. People in the city of Noikinos all have different degrees of psychic talents. Seventeen-year-old Shironne Anjir is achingly sensitive to the world around her, and she finds herself telepathically linked to Mikael Lee, a young man whose dreams force him to share the deaths of murder victims. He is an officer in the king's intelligence service, and his visions torture him unbearably. The two are brought together by a series of murders that echo almost-forgotten ritual sacrifices by priests of a blood magic cult. As in her Golden City trilogy, Cheney is very good at sensory detail, especially blind Shironne's perceptions as she begins exploring Mikael's world. Tracking down the killers turns out to be less important than discovering how the young people can develop their bond, and that aspect of the story is nicely handled. Agent: Lucienne Diver, Knight Agency. (Feb.)\n
Praise for the novels of J. Kathleen Cheney
“[A] masterpiece of historical fantasy.”—Library Journal
“Intriguing and fun, the mystery unfolds like a socially conscious tour through a cabinet of curiosities.”—Kirkus Reviews
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Top Customer Reviews
Shironne Anjir is a touch sensitive. Her powers, which manifested when she was twelve, have now grown so overwhelmingly strong that she’s gone blind. Not letting that hinder her, Shironne helps the Larossan army in various ways. She can tell someone’s innermost secrets just by touching them skin-to-skin. For all its advantages in helping her track down criminals, there are the obvious drawbacks. Then there are the dreams.
Some nights Shironne has vivid dreams. Always of death. It didn’t take her long to realize that these dreams are not her own. She’s pulled into another’s dreams. A male who witnesses death through the eyes of those being murdered. Despite sharing his dreams for years now, her superiors have been against the two meeting, citing some vague sense of danger.
Mikael Lee’s dreams vary in their clarity. Oftentimes he can only remember small pieces of information, but these most recent dreams have Mikael bearing the injuries of the dead in his waking hours. As the dreams come more frequently it’s acknowledged that there’s a murderer on the loose. In order to stop the killer and figure out their motivations, it might finally be time for Mikael and Shironne to meet.
When I first started reading Dreaming Death I felt like I was on world-building overload. There’s A LOT dealing with who did what to whom and when that’s thrown at the reader all at once. It came to the point where I just kind of compartmentalized and focused on the main storyline. This worked in that the essentials of the story—the police hunting for a murderer using Shironne and Mikael’s connection—were pretty straightforward. It didn’t work in that, while things did get clearer, there’s still plenty I’m left a little foggy on and in Dreaming Death it’s very clear we’re only dealing with one part of the realm. I can only hope the actual released copy will feature a map or possibly a genealogy chart—if not, just be prepared. I also hold out hope that this will be a setting that as I read more of I will understand better.
Now what I think J. Kathleen Cheney did really well was the bond between Shironne and Mikael. It is literally a bond and it has a very driving force about it because from the first mention of Shironne never having met the man she’s dubbed the “Angel of Death” I knew, of course, they had to meet. Yet J. Kathleen Cheney doesn’t just throw them together. The story slowly works towards this inevitability. It would also have been easy for their connection to make way for insta-love, which most every other character in this story believe is set to happen, and they very well could end up romantically entangled down the line, but both Mikael and Shironne are very aware of wanting to preserve their sense of self. They don’t want to influence each other untowardly. Instead, there’s clear devotion between them. They won’t deny their link, but they both have growing up to do regardless of the atrocities they’ve seen.
While, the setting and world building was bit overwhelming for me, I still like what has been started in this book. There’s no doubt that I will read the next installment. If you’ve read Cheney’s previous series The Golden City, you’ll find the same style here.
One such sensitive is unusually perceptive to Mikael’s dreams: Shironne, a young blind woman, sees very precise details of the event, even when she’s far away, and even though Mikael and Shironne don’t know each other.
A string of ritual murders leaves the two of them reeling, and the authorities desperate for answers. Very gradually the pieces begin to come together, in an engaging tale with a lot of depth and some budding romance.
The setting is a secondary fantasy world, with a complex political history that I’m not sure I ever quite got a grasp of, despite a lot of time spent explaining the details. Due to the introduction of many characters, their backgrounds, and their political positions, the novel took a while to get going, which is my only significant complaint. The magic was interesting and integrated well into the world.
Eventually, all the pieces are introduced, the murders accelerate and start becoming more personal, and the book is much more engaging. By the end, I could barely put it down. All the threads come together into a satisfying conclusion.
The story is complete, but a number of new mysteries are hinted at near the end, and it seems these characters might be up for more adventure, so here’s hoping for more volumes.
The worldbuilding is complex and fascinating. In a post-invasion world, multiple races and cultures all interact in their own way. There's a background of political complexities and history.
But it's Mikael and Shironne, the main characters, that draw you into the book. Mikael dreams about murders as they happen. Shironne, a blind girl with a huge psychic talent, sees his dreams and by touching the corpse, can tell a lot more about the background. Though she's legally a child - 4 months short of the age of majority - she is brought in to help investigate a string of murders. They corpses seem to be about blood magic, an Indiana-Jones kind of cult ritual involving bleeding victims to death. The deaths are moving ever closer to people Mikael knows and loves.
What I thought: This is the first book I've read by this author. I really enjoyed it, not least because the author has done some really inventive worldbuilding, and (unlike many novels, where I’ve got the majority of the plot figured out around 25% in) I had no idea where the story was going. There is also some interesting investigation of the question of when a child becomes an adult; the main character is 4 months shy of 18 years old, and so is considered still a child by her own culture despite her psychological maturity. I'm definitely looking forward to the next book in the series.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The city of Noikinos is plagued with a series of murders that...Read more
However I notice a tendency, for me at least, on the author's part to muddle the first quarter of her story a little that can...Read more
A world with three different "races" of people. They have very different traditions, rules, and abilities.Read more