Dream Keeper by Amber R Duell

Written by Tasha Leigh

Nova made friends with The Sandman when she was 12 years old. She met him one night in her dreams on his glorious beach and continues to see him whenever she goes to bed at night, despite denying it to her family.

The Sandman lost his closest friend the night he bound The Weaver away from the Day World. After five years of exile, the Weaver has worked his way free, determined to terrorise those who have been sheltered from his influence. A tale of friendship, the worlds hidden evils and how to murder loved ones in the most shocking possible way, Dream Keeper is an emotional roller coaster not for the faint of heart.

OK, so right now I am flailing at the thought of this not having another instalment until heavens know when. Flailing so hard that the flapping of my arms and gums could probably cool bystanders in this disgusting summer heat. I have already posted my appreciation to Instagram, Twitter, 3 different private messages and I’m pretty sure all neighbouring houses within a 1km radius from my residence know how much I love this novel by now.

It starts out with Nora meeting the Sandman in a dream at age 12. She is hellbent that he is real and protecting her from the things that go bump in the night. Her family on the other hand thinks she is a little cuckoo and have sent her to all the

best doctors for psychoanalysis. Eventually she stopped speaking about him but every night she still meets him on his tranquil beach, ready to talk away the days woes.

It’s sweet and innocent and a little saddening until a few chapters later when someones neck gets snapped and Ben appears! Ben is the resident hotty of the piece and is so cool and calm and covered in sparkly moon dust tattoos. Oh and did I mention Nora starts hearing creepy taunts from some shadowy weirdo when he shows up? She’s a ‘Dreamer’, a term she has never heard and is fairly sure is part of her psychosis. Because like there could ever be a disembodied voice telling her how the man with the snapped neck died before anyone else ever knew right?

Anyway, the main characters Ben and Nora are so very couple goals and smoosh and in any other life they would be all kissy faces and stolen moments. In this novel however, they kind of don’t have time on account of all the people being murdered and some crazy guy named ‘The Weaver’ (sinister right?) trying to chase them down and steal a dream that was given to someone else because that’s what you do when things need safekeeping.

Now The Weaver is basically this novel’s equivalent of the Big Bad Witch. He’s nasty, has a vendetta against The Sandman and is basically out for total world domination because he got locked away from the ‘Day World’ and banned from tormenting people for five years. He’s such a happy chappy and more or less the King of Nightmares (if you want to cause people terror, why not be the best in your field). Honestly though, I imagined him like a younger, more svelte Hades from that Hercules movie. He is perfection when it comes to angered celestial beings.

Along the timeline of the story, Nora jumps between the Day World (waking world) and the Night World (the world of dreams). Duell provides a close to seamless transition between each and has just the right mix of both to incite a gradually increasing, slow burning fear for Sandman and Nora’s lives.

Earlier I mentioned that this was not your usual tale of two teens. Going in I expected love and rainbows and forbidden romance. What I got was a sprinkling of this with a ton of gore and terror and death. I cringed at the graphic depiction of a girl KILLING HERSELF WITH A BALLPOINT PEN. It incited visions of that oh so kitschy scene with the pencil in the ankle from the Evil Dead and it was thoroughly enjoyable (we all know I’m a masochist, don’t look so shocked people). There’s eye gouging and tearing off of skin and I was completely in my own little gore filled paradise throughout.

Let me also say, that ending, while a little predictable, made me feel both sorry for Nora but also like she deserved it just a smidge because why would you ignore a celestial being? Like, really, are you that stupid! Her outfit became kick arse while her plight kind of sucked.

Here is where I should be discussing plot points and story pace and all those things that ‘real reviewers’ talk about. What you need to know is, I haven’t been able to just sit and read a book cover to cover in a good six months. But it only took me 2 hours and 45 minutes to read this almost 300 page piece of amazing. Enough said.

All I can say is that this is an absolutely positively amazing novel that earns my first 5 star rating of the year. I’m picky and writing this straight after finishing and yelling at random people Shia LeBeouf style to just read it.

Dream Keeper is available from Amazon, Google Books and all good online retailers.

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Synopsis | Goodreads

The Sandman is seventeen-year-old Nora’s closest friend and best-kept secret. He has to be, if she doesn’t want a one-way ticket back to the psychiatrist. It took her too long to learn not to mention the hooded figure in her dreams to her mother, who still watches Nora as if she’ll crack. So when Nora’s friends start mysteriously dying gruesome deaths in their sleep, she isn’t altogether surprised when the police direct their suspicion at her. The Sandman is the only one she can turn to for answers. But the truth might be more than she bargained for…

For the last five years, the Sandman has spent every night protecting Nora. When he hid the secret to the Nightmare Lord’s escape inside her dreams, he never expected to fall in love with her. Neither did he think his nemesis would find her so quickly, but there’s no mistaking his cruel handiwork. The Nightmare Lord is tired of playing by the rules and will do anything to release his deadly nightmares into the world, even if that means tormenting Nora until she breaks.

When the Nightmare Lord kidnaps Nora’s sister, Nora must enter enemy territory to save her. The Sandman is determined to help, but if Nora isn’t careful, she could lose even more than her family to the darkness.

(Please note: This story contains vivid death scenes.)