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Book Review: Dream Keeper (The Dark Dreamer Trilogy, Book 1) by Amber R. Duell

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, The Parliament House, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Fantasy/Paranormal/Romance

Plot: The Sandman is seventeen-year-old Nora’s closest friend and best-kept secret. He has to be, if she doesn’t want a one-way ticket back to the psychiatrist. It took her too long to learn not to mention the hooded figure in her dreams to her mother, who still watches Nora as if she’ll crack. So when Nora’s friends start mysteriously dying gruesome deaths in their sleep, she isn’t altogether surprised when the police direct their suspicion at her. The Sandman is the only one she can turn to for answers. But the truth might be more than she bargained for…

For the last five years, the Sandman has spent every night protecting Nora. When he hid the secret to the Nightmare Lord’s escape inside her dreams, he never expected to fall in love with her. Neither did he think his nemesis would find her so quickly, but there’s no mistaking his cruel handiwork. The Nightmare Lord is tired of playing by the rules and will do anything to release his deadly nightmares into the world, even if that means tormenting Nora until she breaks.

When the Nightmare Lord kidnaps Nora’s sister, Nora must enter enemy territory to save her. The Sandman is determined to help, but if Nora isn’t careful, she could lose even more than her family to the darkness.

(Please note: This story contains vivid death scenes.)

Opinion:

When I saw Dream Keeper on Netgalley, I just knew I had to have it.

A retelling of the Sandman, the weaver of nightmares, and a young girl caught up in the middle of it all? Sold. A YA story or romance, fantasy and magic? Sold.

A Lord of Nightmares, and a Lord of Dreams.

A Night World, and a Day World.

It ALL just promised to be SO. AMAZING.

I mean I just…loved it…

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With the description above basically giving away the ENTIRE book, I realize that it would be vastly unnecessary for me to give my own synopsis. So, let’s just jump right in, shall we? I have a feeling this review if going to be short and sweet.

Well…short and sour.

This book had a TON of promise, but really fell flat for me. The reason for that MAY be because it feels like it targets a younger audience, Pre-Teen/Teen, by the characters coming across as childlike and adolescent rather than somewhat mature. The author chose to use phrases like “sorry, not sorry” in one instance, and then words like perturbed and grotesque in the next. Though the writing is VERY descriptive and paints a beautiful picture of the dream and nightmare world, I felt like I was caught in a wind tunnel of conflicting writing styles. At one point it feels eloquent and mature, and the next it is simplistic and feels cheesy. I almost felt like I was reading a soap-opera at times.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have a strong connection to Nora and the Sandman, especially when it came to their romance. When the reader starts this book, they are thrust right in the middle of the story. There isn’t much of a premise, so it eventually “backpedals” you through past events to catch you up. Sometimes this works in stories, but in this case, it was just confusing. Due to the quick start, and even quicker romance, it doesn’t give the reader adequate time to connect to Nora and the Sandman. The Sandman ended up sounding like a brooding teenager even though he’s supposed to be decades old, and Nora didn’t seem to have much of an emotional response to the murders around her…which is strange. Shouldn’t she be freaking the f**k out? I would be! So instead of exciting and fresh, these characters came off as quite dull and unimpressive.

The flow of the writing and the structure of this story also left me a little unsettled. With the beginning starting from nowhere and being rushed, it made me think that this series was going to be PACKED with exciting moments. I mean, it would have to be for this to be a trilogy and start that way, right?! Well, yes and no. I wasn’t bored while reading, but I DID feel like there wasn’t a lot of meaningful and necessary moments happening. Things felt a little out of order, or rushed in spots and slow in others. My editing brain kept wanting to rearrange different paragraphs and sentences, so it was a bit hard to get through.

Another confusing aspect was that a bunch of REALLY important characters didn’t come into this story until the end. By the time I got to these new characters, I was already checked-out of the story and skimming the lines. Maybe if they were introduced earlier, it would have kept my attention and interest more. I thought the character of Baku was very creative, so I wish he would have had a bigger role and made a stronger connection with Nora or the Sandman. It could have been a memorable and amusing duo for the reader to get hooked on.

This really came off more negative than I was anticipating, which is unfortunate. This story had a lot of great ideas and moments, but I think some final editing could have really improved it. Though I am slightly curious to see if the writing and characters improve in book two, I probably won’t be picking up the next copy. With the characters and flow of writing falling short, Dream Keeper turned out to be a real dud for me. This is of course, is just my opinion. A lot of other readers really enjoyed this story, so don’t use my words as law. Even though you could. 😉

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2-5-stars

 

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29 thoughts on “Book Review: Dream Keeper (The Dark Dreamer Trilogy, Book 1) by Amber R. Duell

  1. So sad to hear that this story came off to you as melodramatic and poorly paced! I was absolutely drawn in by that opening synopsis. I may still give this novel a shot and see for myself. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. TBH, the synopsis sounds kinda awful and the fact that the book was dull with an insta-love romance makes it even worse. I’m so sorry that this didn’t live up to your expectations. Hope your next read is better 💖💖💖

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great review! I felt the exact same way when I read it. The premise does sound so good, but yeah, the plotting was way out of order and I actually thought the first chapter with the Sandman was confusing :/ I won’t continue with the series. You summed up these thoughts much better than me 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Hm. I tend to avoid YA where there’s weird insta romance and where authors use memes (which lbr, will be dead by time of publishing and will not age well) in their work. But the synopsis did kind of grab me.

    However, after the bleccch experience that was Shadow & Bone for me with a similar writing style I will have to pass. Sometimes I feel like I’m getting too old for YA :'(.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel like that too, BUT the amazing this about YA is there are lots of different subgenres in it. So there is alot of Adult YA which is nice. But Yea, I wonder why more authors don’t write Fantasy books with characters in their early/mid 20s. That’s definitely a young adult and would make me feel better lol

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Darn — I really loved the synopsis, and I was about to open Goodreads to add this to my TBR. But then I read your review and closed the tab super fast, lol. One trope that’s always kind of bugged me is the whole “immortal/centuries-old being falls in love with a teenage human” thing. If the Sandman was the same age as Nora, I wouldn’t have as much of a problem, but something about the way it actually is just doesn’t sit right with me. (Not to mention, everything else you mentioned about the writing and style and not-so-action-packed plot put me off as well.) Oh well! Thanks for a great review — hopefully someone else will execute this concept better at some point 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahah sorry Alex! I was hoping it would be good, but it just wasn’t executed well. I totally know what you mean about the immortal being/teenage relationships. It’s super strange. Not to mention these immortals should be really worldly and mature, so they date a teenager?! Makes zero sense!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No worries! I’m glad you wrote an honest review 🙂

        That’s a good point that I actually hadn’t thought of! I definitely wouldn’t want to date a teenager if I had an immortal’s life experience, heckkk no. I was focused on the age gap more than anything, but the mental maturity gap is an even bigger deal! (Granted, the two are related, but yknow what I mean.)

        Liked by 1 person

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