A mirror covered in vines and a girl reflected in it, holding a book.

About the Book

Title: Dreams Lie Beneath
Published: 2021
Swoonworthy Scale: 6

Cover Story: Mirror, Mirror On The Wall
BFF Charm: Yay
Talky Talk: Surface-Level Fantasy
Bonus Factor: Magic
Relationship Status: Casual Work Friends

Cover Story: Mirror, Mirror On The Wall

This appropriately gloomy and magical looking, and mirrors do play a big part in the book. I like it!

The Deal:

A hundred years ago a duke was assassinated by his court, and, with his last breath, he used his magic to curse them into a dreamless existence, unable to die. That curse spread to all the land with the unintended side effect that once a month on the new moon, other people’s nightmares would sometimes come to life. This brought about dream wardens, magicians who take on the job of recording the dreams of those they live near so they can recognize the nightmares that appear on the new moon and more easily vanquish them.

Clementine’s father is the dream warden of their small village, and she his apprentice. Life is pretty idyllic, until on the September new moon two brothers come to town and challenge Clem’s father for the right to be dream warden. When Clem’s hesitation costs them their livelihood, her world is shattered, and she goes to increasing lengths to get her revenge. But there are other forces in play, and Clem is about to be in over her head…

BFF Charm: Yay

Yay BFF Charm

Clem longs to marry her magic and her passion for art, and, if you were to ask her father, she’s a bit reckless when she’s out killing nightmares. She makes a rash decision early on in the book that had me shaking my head, but, of course, without it she would’ve never gotten the answers she was looking for, so I guess: well-played, Clem. I liked her enough and would have no qualms about being her friend, but I’m not sure if we’d be the best of besties.

Swoonworthy Scale: 6

Clem manages to get a job (in disguise) with one of the magician brothers who stole her job from under her, and she’s hell-bent on making him pay. I’m sure I don’t need to explain where this may be headed.

Talky Talk: Surface-Level Fantasy

It’s hard to know what to say about this book. I think if I had to give you a thesis statement, it would be that overall I had a good time, but the book isn’t without its flaws. As a story concept, I was completely on board with the idea of a lost kingdom, a land beset by nightmares, and death-bed curses that need to be broken. I love a good fairy tale vibe. The page-to-page writing was also serviceable; I was swept up right off and easily spent a few hours in a row reading by the glow of Christmas tree light. (I saw some reviews that said the book was “confusing” to follow but I had no problems with that.)

But upon finishing the story—I have plot questions. A lot of plot questions. Even just writing out the curse parameters in The Deal above made me realize I am not quite sure how that all worked! There are parts I wish were longer and more fleshed out that probably could’ve answered those questions. I also would’ve liked more depth to the characters besides Clem. The nightmares they faced could’ve been scarier/higher-stakes.

Essentially, this is a rare instance where I would’ve preferred more books versus it being a standalone, because everything ended up, unfortunately, too surface-level for me to fall in love.

Bonus Factor: Magic

Open book with moving pages in front of a glowing blue sphere and twinkle lights

There are three different types of magic within this magic system one could specialize in, though we really only see the fighting magic. (The magical card game, Seven Wraiths, sounded very cool looking, and I kind of wish THAT was what featured on the cover now that I’m thinking about it.) Clem has a host of handy charms and spells she can use, though my favorite was shrinking things to make them easier to carry. This was one of those areas that suffered for the brevity of the story.

Relationship Status: Casual Work Friends

Book, we got along well enough during our company retreat. We both needed someone to talk to and commiserate with when they started talking about how we’re “like a family” again. Yet after we got back from that forced participation, a wave and a smile in the halls feels like more than enough interaction between us. It’s just not that deep.

Literary Matchmaking

Sorcery of Thorns

This book gave shades of Sorcery of Thorns from Margaret Rogerson with regards to the main relationship and fantasy setting.

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1)

If you want a colder main character and more violence, seek out Holly Black’s The Cruel Prince.

The Hazel Wood (The Hazel Wood #1)

Nothing is as it seems in Melissa Albert’s The Hazel Wood, either.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Quill Tree Books. I received neither money nor peanut butter cups in exchange for this review. Dreams Lie Beneathis available now.

Stephanie (she/her) is an avid reader who moonlights at a college and calls Orlando home. Stephanie loves watching television, reading DIY blogs, planning awesome parties, Halloween decorating, and playing live-action escape games.