Following the lives of some troubled characters living in a mental institute, this story deals with issues of sanity, reality, love and obsession. Charlie has been plodding along just fine in the institute, plagued by visions of other people’s ‘dream’ forms, but coping quite well considering. Until Emma arrives. A stunningly beautiful (ugh) girl with a mysterious past, who wants nothing more than to be reunited with her (obsessive and controlling) husband. Forming an unlikely bond, the two help each other through their problems, and Charlie takes it upon himself to get to the bottom of Emma’s mystery, despite the terrifying dragon that follows her and protects her.
The story is interesting and well-written. But there are many issues. Firstly – because of the cover and some of the reviews I’d seen – I thought this was going to be a YA book; it isn’t. That isn’t a criticism of the book itself, but I did struggle to get my head around that to begin with because I had to adjust all my expectations, so do bear that in mind. This book is not YA. Other than fantasy (and maybe a touch of romance), I’m not sure how else to categorise this book, but it is definitely more than just a fantasy novel. Secondly, all of the patients appear to have been committed fairly, and really do have psychiatric problems, so it’s hard to see how the series can progress. I have little desire for characters who seem to belong in a mental institute to be released, and these ones don’t have curable illnesses that they can recover from. Thirdly, Emma and David’s relationship is obsessive and borderline abusive. They are in love, which is nice, but it isn’t healthy and I struggled to watch Charlie be drawn into that. He was nothing but sweet and helpful, whereas Emma was selfish and cruel to use him and David is quite clearly a violent lunatic. I didn’t really enjoy reading about their relationship.
However, I did like Charlie, and I liked reading about Nellie and Bob. They were both sweet and likeable, and – in their strange ways – only wanted to help. I only wish Charlie had listened to them more. I did enjoy most of this book and it really is well-written, but it wasn’t quite my cup of tea and I probably won’t be continuing with the series.
I received a copy of this book from the author who was kind enough to gift me a copy in exchange for an honest review.