Dreams Lie Beneath is a Fantasy Lover's Dream Come True (Rebecca Ross book review)
GENRE: YA Fantasy
LENGTH: 477 pages
Clementine and her father are magical wardens of a small town tasked with fighting nightmares that manifest via an ancient curse. When their territory is taken by two brothers Clementine disguises herself to infiltrate his house and get revenge.
CHARACTERS There are quite a few prominent characters in this novel and most of them I won't be mentioning. This is because it's nearly impossible to really talk about them without spoilers being involved. Almost everyone in the story has secrets and ulterior motives. No one is who they at first seem. One final thing I will say that might give you a hint of what to expect: at times the characters and plot reminded me of a YA Game of Thrones.
The two characters I will discuss are the protagonist and her love interest. Clementine 'Clem' Madigan (going by the alias Anna Neven for a good chunk of the novel) is talented and driven. The romance in this book is enemies-to-lovers and the love interest is Phelan Vesper. Phelan is the kinder, far more palatable Vesper brother. Their relationship reminded me a lot of that between Elisabeth and Nathaniel from Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson. Both start out with the female lead misunderstanding the love interest. The novels also had similar atmospheres, so if you liked that book then I recommend this one. Their relationship wasn't as passionate as some, but it was sweet.
The novel is told from the first person perspective of Clementine. There is a ton of foreshadowing in this novel and everything reads as very intentional on the author's part. I think some might say things get a little too convoluted with the characters, but I promise you you'll be able to piece together the clues if you pay careful attention.
The world building here is very rich with various kinds of magic, multiple locations (the bustling city, the quiet country, and the mystic mountains), legends, and even a card game! Adding small details like an invented game the characters play is a great method for making the world feel more alive.
Atmospherically this book has a mysterious and sometimes chilling quality to it. I felt like I was transported onto the streets beside Clem and Phelan on those new moon nights. Some of the coolest scenes were the ones in which we are plunged into the nightmares. However, if you're a scaredy-cat like me then never fear! The book never veers into terrifying territory.
This is a standalone fantasy and at almost 500 pages it is quite long. I do wish it was just a tad bit longer, though. The story gets off to a strong start and keeps a good pace until the very end. Things are wrapped up quite quickly and I wanted more time for relationships to be resolved and decisions to be made.
This book encompasses why I always come back to fantasy; for worlds that I want to become lost in. As a YA fantasy writer myself this is the kind of book I aspire to write; one with a wide but detailed world and characters who have layers to them. I also think it would be a good read for writers who struggle with writing foreshadowing (such as myself) because this book is an example of how to do it well. I was hooked from the very first to the very last page. If you love fantasy but are daunted by series then this is a great book to pick up.
FINAL RATING: 4.5⭐️