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Review: Dreaming Death by J. Kathleen Cheney (Palace of Dreams #1)

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Dreaming Death by J. Kathleen Cheney // VBC ReviewDreaming Death (Palace of Dreams #1)
J. Kathleen Cheney
Published: Feb. 2, 2016 (Roc)
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon
Review source: copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

Reviewed by: Amy

Rating (out of 5): 3.5 stars

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.

Sexual content: none

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