IN DREAMS BEGIN by Skyler White is in bookstores on November 2nd. I loved White's debut novel, and Falling Fly, and was excited to read her next book. This is not the next book in a series, but rather stands alone (though Olivia from and Falling Fly makes a brief appearance). It is set in Victorian Ireland and follows the journeys of two women searching for love, acceptance, answers and connection.
The story moves back and forth between modern-day and an unspecified year in the past (though I'm guessing around 1899 because the Eiffel tower is mentioned). One woman, Ida Jameson, is an occultist who seeks to gain as much power as possible, and she accidentally channels modern-day Laura one night through her friend and medium, Maud Gonne. This begins a decades long quest for Ida, which leads her toward madness, murder, and true evil.
For Laura, her involvement only spans a few weeks. At first she believes she is dreaming, but quickly learns she is actually being channeled to the past while she sleeps (with her new husband close beside her, yet completely unaware of his wife's night trips). She begins to question her new marriage and whether or not she is truly in love. She's met W. B. Yeats in the past, and can she really be in love with him? How to maintain the connection when the forces of true evil plot to use her for their own means? The ending is tense and fast-paced—a must-read.
Each chapter is headed by one of Yeats' poems, and the author does a fascinating job at weaving those poems, history, and her story into one. It made me wonder if Ms. White had in fact lived the history she wrote about and had access to Yeats' thoughts. No doubt about it, this is a challenging read, but challenging in a good way that presents ideas you may understand or merely accept. At times it is difficult to stay grounded as you read, but maybe that was the author's purpose, to tether the readers as haphazardly as the characters often are. The author doesn't assume readers need everything explained and lures us into the events as if we'd just happened upon a seance or couple making love. Her words and imagery are lyrical, and I promise you won't find a love scene in any other book described so uniquely and yet so perfectly. It is really worth the read. And after reading the final page, you'll want to dig out a volume of Yeats' poetry and emerge yourself in his world of the occult, faeries, and timeless love. The only thing missing was an author's note explaining the characters. Were they all real? Did Maud Gonne have a relationship with Yeats? Who was Ida Jameson in the bigger picture? Would have loved notes on that!
—Michele Hauf for Bite Club