**Thank you to Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group via NetGalley for providing me with a digital ARC copy of this novel for the purposes of review**
In all honesty, I was a little nervous going into this book — while Kerstin Gier’s ‘Precious Gems Trilogy’, which started with ‘Ruby Red’, is extremely popular, I had many, many issues with it. I kept feeling like it could have been one book as opposed to three and that the romance was very, very rushed. From “I can’t stand you!” to “I would (literally) die for you!” in the span of, what, a few days? A week? It was all too much, too soon. However, I will not deny that there was a lot of creativity involved in that trilogy — enough so, that when I saw another of Ms. Gier’s books was being translated into English, I went into it with good faith, and the hope I would like it better.
And she did. Again Ms. Gier’s creativity shines and, even better, she goes a step further and includes a wee bit of creepiness into her story. If there’s one thing I’ll object to, it’s the entire “new family” subplot. What kind of mother drags her two daughters halfway around the globe with the promise of a nice English countryside home to: I have a boyfriend (surprise!) and we’re moving into his home in London (surprise!) because I’m going to marry him (surprise!)?!? I find that rather far-fetched and that entire portion of the story upset me. Does it lend itself well to Ms. Gier’s brand of humour? Yes. It’s equal parts sarcastic and sweet, and thrives when in awkward circumstances. I just wished it hadn’t been because of this subplot.
However, the character voice of our protagonist, Liv, is a major step-up from the protagonist of the ‘Precious Gems’ books, and this is where Ms. Gier’s humour serves her best. Liv’s voice is fresh, distinct, and unique; I enjoyed reading her hilariously snarky internal dialogue, especially in relation to her soon-to-be step-brother Grayson and his cohorts: Arthur, Jasper, and Henry. Her constant, internal demand for logical answers was wonderful to see — and also the fact that she spends the majority of the novel trying to prove that what’s happening and what these boys believe isn’t real: she’s trying to prove a negative. Supremely difficult, but I like that she thought herself up to the challenge. It’s nice to see that in a character. In other words: girl has moxie.
Now, the boys. The boys, the boys, the boys. It’s rather a reverse harem here and, while there are definitely going to be echoes for fans of Maggie Steifvater’s Aglionby Academy Raven Boys, the little ‘Dream Club’ — as I took to calling them — are fun personality tropes. You’ve got your protective one (Grayson); jokester with a wild streak (Jasper); brooding one with a good heart (Henry); and the odd, enigmatic one (Arthur). I hope to see them develop further outside of these little boxes with the rest of the trilogy because the potential is 110% there.
The best parts of the novel come during the numerous dream sequences — which, brace yourself, easily slip between dream and nightmare without warning — and the book, while not finishing off on a cliffhanger, leaves you hungry for more. A definite recommendation for fans of paranormal fantasy.