Ahoy there me mateys! After I read this Finnish author’s debut novel, memory of water, I knew I had to read her next book when it came out. And while I enjoyed her first novel more, there was a lot to be enjoyed in this one as well.
The world building in this novel was wonderful. The story takes place on an island where everything is deeply regimented. One of the main rules is that dreaming is not allowed. It is treated like the plague and if discovered to be a Dreamer then the person is thrown into House of the Tainted never to be seen again.
There are other Houses like the House of Words and the House of Webs. Our main character, Eliana, lives in the House of Webs and weaves. She has secrets, among them being able to read and also being a dreamer. She tries to stay invisible and safe in her structured world. Then one day she discovers an injured girl, Valeria, who happens to have Eliana’s name tattooed on her palm. Eliana can’t help but be drawn into the mystery. As Eliana begins to become closer to Valeria, will she give up her safety and worldview to solve the puzzle?
The relationship between Valeria and Eliana is one of the highlights of the book for me. Their connection is slow burning but wonderful and kept me avidly reading. While not the focus of the book, their relationship drives the story. It was sweet and endearing. I also enjoyed the loving relationship between Eliana and her brother Janos. There is also a kick ass healer whom I adored too.
The details in this novel were as stunning at the ones in the author’s first novel. The circumstances and explanations of the tattoos were fun. The glimpses into the other Houses felt realistic and left me wanting to know more about the purposes of them all. I adored how the island would flood. Those descriptions were so vivid and stark. This author’s writing feels magical.
While I loved the world the author created, I did have some issues with the dreaming aspects of the novel. The dreaming is very fantastical and even though there is an explanation for why dreaming is dangerous, I didn’t really love it. The ending of the novel in particular seemed extremely odd. I wouldn’t say that I hated it. It just left me sort of confused.
Despite that I did find this novel thought-provoking and am glad I read it. I will be reading whatever this author produces next.
Goodreads has this to say about the novel:
Eliana is a model citizen of the island, a weaver in the prestigious House of Webs. She also harbors a dangerous secret—she can dream, an ability forbidden by the island’s elusive council of elders. No one talks about the dreamers, the undesirables ostracized from society.
But the web of protection Eliana has woven around herself begins to unravel when a young girl is found lying unconscious in a pool of blood on the stones outside the house. Robbed of speech by her attackers, the only clue to her identity is one word tattooed in invisible ink across her palm: Eliana. Why does this mysterious girl bear her name? What links her to the weaver—and how can she hold Eliana’s fate in her hand?
As Eliana finds herself growing closer to this injured girl she is bound to in ways she doesn’t understand, the enchanting lies of the island begin to crumble, revealing a deep and ancient corruption. Joining a band of brave rebels determined to expose the island’s dark secrets, Eliana becomes a target of ruthless forces determined to destroy her. To save herself and those she loves, she must call on the power within her she thought was her greatest weakness: her dreams.
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