Eighteen-year-old Brenna Whit is entering college as a freshman and starting to meet new people, but she hides a dark secret. Because of an accident that happened three years ago, her spirit wanders the Fade whenever she falls asleep. It’s something she wants to keep hidden from the world, but when she sees someone watching her in spirit form, she fears the secret’s out. With new friends, possibly new enemies, school, and a new crush, Brenna has too much to worry about for just her freshman year of college.
Perfect for those who enjoy Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Supernatural!
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Power was a kind of drug, more dangerous than most. And I had tasted it.
To Dream Is To Die is the first entry in Sarah Lampkin’s debut paranormal fantasy series Dead Dreamer, and is a beautifully crafted and creative tale of acceptance and loyalty. It thoroughly highlights the effects of secrets kept and the highly volatile consequences of dabbling in the unknown that affect not only a singular person, but all those they’re involved with. It’s a story that examines spirits and the afterlife without crossing that fine line into territory associated with the horror genre, making for a refreshing and relatively light read. Defined by a cast of relatable and oftentimes snarky characters, multiple mysterious threads that converge to reveal the inner workings of the spiritual realm, and a dark setting that houses enigmatic factions working to protect the world of men, this story is surely a page-turner that will leave you craving more.
Lampkin truly excels in her ability to weave several seemingly unconnected mysteries that keep you guessing well past the book’s final pages. It’s difficult to discuss without giving much away, but Brenna’s capacity to walk the Fade when her physical self sleeps is an interesting concept that bemuses even her until she stumbles upon a local legend. As the story progresses, we’re presented with pieces of the puzzle along with Brenna, making this journey of discovery more immersive than expected. With strange and magical ongoings nestled within the environment, our quest for answers begins early, and continues to become more complex the further we read. More interesting, an archetypal villain isn’t explicitly established, so we’re forced to objectively explore the shadows for the truth.
The story itself is set within a small college in Small-Town Virginia, all so very intimate and wonderfully portrayed. Overlapping realms and dark and dense copses surrounding the campus conceal hidden magical doors impeding the flow of beings from other worlds. The characters are well developed with dynamics and actions expected of those in the New Adult age range, albeit sometimes a bit more naive than necessary. Certain aspects are vaguely described, however it’s understandable as our main character is uninformed of the true details and mechanics of the hand she’s been dealt, as well. I have a strong feeling future installments of the series will begin to address the lingering unanswered questions we’re left with.
I found this book to be exceedingly engaging and relatable simply because it reminded me of my own college years at a small university around the same time period this story seems to take place in. I found myself taking a trip down Memory Lane and associating much of what I read with people I knew and things I’ve personally experienced, allowing me to connect with this story on a whole new level. Lampkin’s writing style is very smooth, straightforward and easy to read, injecting pop culture references drawing readers in, and also utilizing facets of lore and mythology to add an otherworldly atmosphere, effortlessly pulling you from reality.
To Dream Is To Die is a solid foundation for a series that has strongly drawn me in, and I thoroughly enjoyed my wanderings through the Fade and into the history of the world Lampkin has created. I’ve already ordered a copy of To Wake the Dead, so I can continue my pilgrimage for answers alongside Brenna and friends. If you’re a fan of paranormal fantasy, and are in search for a unique and gripping tale, then look no further; this story ticks all those boxes and more.