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I Belong

Review: Dreaming Death by J. Kathleen Cheney

Dreaming DeathTitle: Dreaming Death

Author: J. Kathleen Cheney

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Palace of Dreams (Book #1)

Publication Date: February 2, 2016

Format: Paperback, 400 Pages

ISBN-10: 0451472934 (ROC/Penguin)

ISBN-13: 978-0451472939 (ROC/Penguin)

Reviewed by: Kristie


In the Novels of the Golden City, J. Kathleen Cheney created a “mesmerizing” (Publishers Weekly) realm where magic, history, and intrigue combine. Now, she presents a new world ruled by psychic talents and fatal magic…

Shironne Anjir’s status as a sensitive is both a gift and a curse. Her augmented senses allow her to discover and feel things others can’t, but her talents come with a price: a constant assault of emotions and sensations has left her blind. Determined to use her abilities as best she can, Shironne works tirelessly as an investigator for the Larossan army.

A member of the royal family’s guard, Mikael Lee also possesses an overwhelming power—he dreams of the deaths of others, sometimes in vivid, shocking detail, and sometimes in cryptic fragments and half-remembered images.

But then a killer brings a reign of terror to the city, snuffing out his victims with an arcane and deadly blood magic. Only Shironne can sense and interpret Mikael’s dim, dark dreams of the murders. And what they find together will lead them into a nightmare…

Quick & Dirty: Dreaming Death is a dark fantasy with an excellent premise, decent execution but some of the world building slowed the story down.

Opening Sentence: Liran Prifata’s dove gray uniform jacket lay to one side, his shirt tangled with it, pale blotches on the bare dirt.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Dreaming Death is a dark fantasy novel set in a complicated world. I was very excited to get a copy of this novel off of NetGalley. I was intrigued to read a story about a girl who can find out emotions by touch and a man who dreams death, whose dreams are so potent that they reach out to the girl. This novel has an excellent premise and decent execution but was bogged down by the world building.

Dreaming Death begins with a tragic death which lays out the framework of the main characters and their abilities. Mikael Lee is a sensitive whose powers have grown into dreaming the particularly painful deaths of those who are murdered. He sees the person’s death as if he was the victim. He sees through their eyes. He doesn’t feel everyone who is murdered, just mainly the ones that are going to be particularly impactful to the world around him. As a consequence of the dreams, he pushes out the emotions and feelings of the murdered person so that anyone sensitive around him also experiences his dream. The dreams have gotten so bad that Mikael also mimics the wounds.

Shironne Anjir has been helping the army solve Mikael’s dreams. She picks up the visions that Mikael often forgets. Also, if the body has been found, she is able to uncover more clues which often lead to solving the case. Shironne wants to meet Mikael, whom she has dubbed the Angel of Death. She feels this strange pull to him but she is considered a child still (at seventeen) so she isn’t allowed to meet a man who is in his early twenties. Shironne is a touch sensitive, her senses so developed that she can’t see. Most sensitives like her often starve to death because they can’t get past the sensations of taste and the impurities in food.

I felt terrible for both Mikael and Shironne. They both had a somewhat privileged life but with their powers, it makes them both a target for bad people. They are also limited to their station in life, Shironne should never have met Mikael. I was so excited to read their first interaction with each other. The buildup was so exciting and with what had been revealed about their powers, I really wanted to know how they would act around one another.

I had a hard time distinguishing between the races, who was what race and why, along with all the mixed races and how they related to the many Families. There was also the history of the land, how it was conquered and the race of the conquerors. I think if I read this again, I would make a chart of the different races and Families. I ended up having to skip the whole race thing as the story went on, as long as I didn’t dwell on how people were or weren’t related then I could stay in the story. Also, a lot of characters are related by adoption (through Family or skin color) which added to some more confusion. There was also the hierarchy of the classes, especially between the police, army and Family. The police seemed to hold more power than the ruling class.

There are quite a few different narrators throughout the story. Mikael and Shironne are the main ones but we do see some side characters. I am intrigued by some of the side stories, especially Captain Cerradine, Deborah and Kai.

Dreaming Death wraps up wonderfully. I just felt a little sad towards Mikael and Shironne relationship. I really hope in the next novel we get to see their relationship grow more. I think this series can only get better with the second book. I only wonder if it will stick with Mikael and Shironne or move on to one of the other characters.

Notable Scene:

Shironne reached out her hand and touched a familiar surface. Recognizing the rubbery texture of a corpse’s skin, she took off her right glove, tucked it into a coat pocket, and laid her hand on the body. The feel of river water reached her first through the light contact. She pressed her hand more firmly against the side of the man’s chest. His skin shifted slightly under her fingers, already losing its fragile hold on muscles and bone. The impulses of his dead mind flooded through the contact, though, immediately overriding the physical impressions. Faint memories lingered in this body: of whom he’d been in life, of how he had died.

“His name was Liran Prifata and he was a police officer,” she said.

“How does she know that?” Officer Harinen whispered, not quietly enough.

“She simply does,” Kassannan replied.

“The body still holds traces of memory, even though the spirit is gone. The memories are like leaves fallen off a tree. They don’t know they’re dead yet. So this told me,” she said, laying her bare hand against the man’s torn chest. She concentrated, sifting through the disordered fragments of memory. “Three nights ago. He didn’t know why they took him, I think. He asked over and over why, but they never answered him.”

Palace of Dreams Series:

1. Dreaming Death (February 2, 2016)


FTC Advisory: ROC/Penguin provided me with a copy of Dreaming Death. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.


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