BOOK REVIEW: The Dream Engine (Spindlewald #1)
by Leah Karloff
Publication date: 3 April 2016
Publisher: Self published (I think?)
Goodreads: Time is a circle. Time is a loop.
Kara Swatch lives in a world manipulated by unseen forces. Always in the shadows, hidden just beyond the line of fire. These time travellers set events in motion and guide them through to their sordid ends, but never spare a thought for the lives trapped in the chaos.
It’s all too large and far-reaching for Kara to understand – what she sees are the assassinations and the vanishings and the cryptic messages written in the sky, all pointing to the secrets in her dreams. To the time travellers.
But curiosity killed the cat. The more she uncovers about Lucem and the Sognate, who guard against curiosity with an iron fist, the more she begins to notice constants. They seem to run through the world like a needle and thread, emerging over and over and over again.
And they have their own stories to tell.
I received a free ebook copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.
I want to start off by saying that I considered DNF’ing this several times. And there were never moments that really made me want to kept reading. There were some parts throughout that made me go “oh?” and peaked my curiosity, more so towards the end, but never to the point where I felt like I had to keep reading to find out what would happen.
It felt to me like the book was trying to be too much. It felt like an entire series in one, rather than just one book because so much plot was covered.
The story was a bit all over the place. I spent a good portion of the book confused and I think this came from it trying to be so much all at once. There were times where I was wondering how we’d gotten to a particular scene, or what had happened previously. It felt like things weren’t being wrapped up before moving onto the next thing.
Considering that the author is only 17, the writing is pretty good. There were sentences here and there that felt unnatural but this was mostly due to wording choices. Additionally, the dialogue felt forced in places. Like the sentences, it felt unnatural because of word choices. Some of the dialogue just didn’t feel like things that a person would say or the expression was off just the slightest. For example there’s a conversation between Kara, the protagonist, and her dad. It’s the first time they’ve seen each other in awhile and the conversation just didn’t seem realistic to me for the situation in which the conversation was taking place.
The whole book is told in third person and most of it is from Kara’s perspective however towards the end the perspectives start changing (quite a bit) and it gets a little confusing because there’s no indication that it’s a different perspective.
Now that I’ve gotten the bad out of the way, onto the good. There’s a fair bit of diversity (yay diversity!) in the book that was woven in almost seamlessly. There are characters of colour as well as one confirmed queer character. I say confirmed because we’re never told if the other person reciprocated those feelings.
Despite what I said earlier about the book not keeping me interested, the ending was enough to make me want to read the second book.
For a first novel Karloff has done really well, especially for her age. I look forward to seeing her future works and her improvements and growth as a writer.