This is my first ever physical review copy! Many thanks to Tom Welsh and Owl Hollow Press for entrusting me with a copy of Anna Undreaming – and many apologies for taking so long to actually post the review.
Don’t worry, I’ll get to talking about the pretty in a second! But first a mental health sidebar, as I strongly believe that these things need to be addressed more openly – especially given that they play a role in the novel. Somehow being granted a finished copy to review put me under lots of pressure to write the review – which really, is quite silly, as there’s no difference between this and any of the ARCs I’ve reviewed via NetGalley. I have been constantly thinking about writing this review for the past three months, ever since I read and enjoyed the book while on holiday. We even took these great pictures at the beach, showing off the watery blues of the cover and I kept writing this review on all my to-do lists. But my depression and anxiety built it up to this massive dragon in need of slaying, rather than letting it be the text it is. It’s been an eventful time, and now I’m slowly getting back to managing my mental health again, which means it’s time to slay the dragon.
STAR RATING: 4.5/5 ✶
PUBLICATION DATE: 20/03/2018
SUMMARY: “Never play their game; their game is always rigged.” Anna’s mantra when it comes to men, and their games. She is a struggling grad student in an unfriendly city, and discovers that there might be more to her and her city than she had thought. She is pulled into a world of Dreamers and Undreamers, trying to save their world. Anna discovers that she is the rarest of them, an Undreamer, with the power to notice and disrupt dreamscapes, called Hazes. Accompanied by another Undreamer, Teej, and pursued by a Dreamer known as the Midnight Man, Anna struggles to come to terms with her past, while fighting for the future.
OPINIONS: The first thing that made me love this book is the fact that Anna is a very late stage philosophy grad student who struggles with mental health issues, which resonates with me. I wish there were more fantasy books addressing the insanity that is grad school in the humanities! In it’s ‘real world’ timeline, the book also deals with the dissolution of a friendship, and with what friendship is and should be. Tom Welsh has a wonderful insight into how people tick and interact, which shows throughout the story.
The story is tense and action-packed, but also has it’s lighthearted funny moments that break up the tension and made me laugh out loud (I’m usually quite insecure about that, so good on you Tom for writing jokes that I could not resist!). I mean, who can resist passages such as when Anna and Teej drink coffee: “Jesus, Teej! What’s your secret ingredient? Lava? This is hotter than the sun.” – “Oh, you’re one of those,” he responded. – “One of what?” – “People who drink cold coffee. Also know as Monsters!” – “Well, I like coffee that doesn’t strip the flesh from my mouth, yes!” Once again, Anna turns out to be a character that represents me more than any other book I have read in the past few months, at least. The combination of fast-paced action and hilarity make this an unputdownable read, and the beginning of an intriguing series.
As far as I know, the world-building is completely unique, and I have never read something like it. The concept of Dreamers and Undreamers is fascinating, and I can’t wait to dive into the second part of this trilogy once it is released! The only thing that I think could be improved is the prose, where it shows slightly that Tom is a relatively new writer, this being his – very promising – debut novel. My preference would be tighter, more descriptive prose, with a slightly slower pace, leaving more room for character development.
Anyway, you all should add Anna Undreaming to your goodreads account and/or order the book from your preferred local dealer of books!