I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
It’s been almost ten years since Story Sparks, a 20-year-old art major from a small town in New York, had a dream. Now the nightmares are back – the Wolves in her dreams are attacking a girl who was her friend from a long time ago, but Story doesn’t remember ever knowing her. The dark waters of Lake Sandeen in Story’s town, where her Uncle disappeared years ago, may hold the key to Story’s dreams – or are they memories? Together with her two best friends Elliott and Adam (more on that later), they dive into the lake one day and are never seen in the Real World again.
The truth is, they went down to Story’s real world. The world she has forgotten a long time ago, where she had friends, magical powers, and was known as The Dreamer. But where did her memories go? Unfortunately, seeking the answer to that question has to wait because the world of Tressla is in danger. It used to be populated by beloved Fairytale characters (with a twist, of course), but now they are pariahs and are in hiding because of power-hungry Lord Brink. Story has a very big role to play in the struggle against him, but as their journey continues and old and new friends and family are found and lost again, she learns a lot more about her past, present and future than she originally bargained for and the weight on her shoulders increases each passing day. Does being The Dreamer mean that an old prophecy is about to come true? What would it mean for Story’s Dark Self and her Spirit? And what is it about a tall-dark-handsome-mysterious Nicholas that draws Story to him inexplicably?
“Fractured Dream” is told in several third-person POVs. All narrators have distinct voices, which was particularly clear in several sections of the book which were narrated in a style of a fairytale. These were my favourite parts – not only because of how well they were written, but also because of the deep insight they offered into the world of Story and Tressla, as well as the past and present characters. Not to mention, they were quite lovely stories and would have worked just as well as short separate fairytales.
Another great thing about “Fractured Dream” was the cast of characters and the twists KM Randall added to them. We have Story’s two best friends from the real world – strong and brave Adam, who is on a first-name basis with earth magic and hilarious and supportive Elliott who is a seer, or a psychic – depends on where you’re from. The great thing about those three is that there is NO LOVE TRIANGLE. Firstly, Elliott is not into women. Secondly, as the story went on, I was more and more convinced that these two were meant for each other. We also have Story’s friends from Tressla, that she’s forgotten over her time in the Real World – Wolf Slayer Jess, whose story of Little Red Riding Hood is as twisted as it gets, lovely Kestrel with whom Story has grown up (but again, doesn’t remember – who took Story’s memories and why?), Bliss the Thumbelina (remember H. C. Anderson’s tale? One of my childhood favourites), and Morgana and Guinevere – as Elliott said, there is no Lancelot in this version of the story. And of course, there is Nicholas – Story’s romantic interest with secrets of his own. I did feel as though their romance was rushed at first, but it made sense as the story progressed. The story of The Dreamer and the Fiddler was one of the fairytales I loved that I mention above.
The characters and their friendships and relationships are a strong point in “Fractured Dream” and I am looking forward to reading more about them in the second installment of The Dreamer Saga. The fairytale setting was not my favourite one – I’ve read and watched a lot of retold fairytales – but KM Randall’s writing is very atmospheric and it does suck the reader into the world of Tressla. The vivid imagery and the twisty retellings were quite wonderful.
What prevented me from absolutely loving this book, however, was the pacing – it felt as though the author tried to cram a lot into a single installment and as a result, the book turned out longer than expected. It picks up from after about 20 of the book and is quite steady for almost half of it, but some chapters felt jumbled and I had to flip back a page or two on several occasions to understand what on earth was happening to Story. The protagonist’s “split of self” was also a little hard to follow, until it was explained in the last 1/4 of the book, although it made sense after that. Therefore, the structure and the pace of the narration seemed a little “messy and confusing” to me. My rating for “Fractured Dream” is 7/10.
“But saving the world sounded like an impossible task for anyone, let alone a twenty-year-old art major who had memory problems and a pack of steroid-pumping Wolf men on her trails”
“Fairytales were born in the form of tales passed down through the ages, and finally written into books. Great artists were forged from the whispered words of dreams into their ears. And so the years wore on, and the gods watched humanity imagine wonderful and sometimes horrible things”.
Story Sparks – Troian Belissario
Elliott – Jordan Gavaris
Adam – Sam Claflin
Nicholas – Liam Hemsworth
Jess – Sophie Turner
Darvish – Shemar Moore
Mother Earth – Eva Green
And Katie McGrath and Angel Coulby can reprise their respective “Merlin” roles.
You might like “Fractured Dream” if you liked:
“The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
“Afterworlds” by Scott Westerfield
“Neverending Story” by Michael Ende
“Once Upon a Time”