Fear Dreams, J. A. Schneider

Fear Dreams, J. A. Schneider

Fear Dreams

Fear Dreams opens in the aftermath of an accident, one that has left Liddy, a talented designer and artist, with a damaged memory and psychological trauma. Her husband, working a scientific breakthrough, is increasingly distant, stressed, and rarely available. When Liddy sees a news broadcast concerning a cold murder case, the face of the murder victim begins to show up in her dreams, in her sketches, and in the corner of her eye across the street. In conjunction with her post-accident trauma, Liddy begins to fear that she’s losing her mind – until a dedicated police detective catches a detail in one of her sketches that was never publicly released, and which has the potential to break the case wide open.

J A Schneider’s vivid characterisation and strong portrayal of inner doubt and intense fear makes this book a contagious read, giving a tense and gripping story that makes it entirely clear how even the most rational of us can end up doubting our senses, our deductions, and our own memories. Built on stress dreams and fractured images, the evidence trickles in to coalesce into a damning picture where the finger of possible guilt points to one after another of the principals, building suspicion and creating rifts between the characters. Fear Dreams is one of the best psychological mysteries I’ve read this year, filled with tension and doubt and spiced with unexpected twists.

Flux, Rabia Gale

Flux, Rabia Gale

Flux: A Sunless World Novel

Flux is the sequel to Quartz: The Sunless World Book One, and follows Rafe as he flees the political dangers of Oakhaven to the exotic garden city of Monaria. Abandoned by Isabella, Rafe has been left in the care of Sable Monarique, once a notorious Oakhaven actress. Rafe and Sable, faced with the echoes of her family‚Äôs disgrace, have to overcome a series of obstacles in their quest to find teachers for Rafe’s unprecedented gift of magic, and quickly find themselves instead entangled in a murderous net of magic and intrigue and facing an enemy who has no care for the dead they leave behind them.

Rabia Gale’s intense imagery and incredible imagination make Flux just as rewarding and unique a read as Quartz, with skillful scene-setting and strong, consistent characters. Her ability to create detailed and plausible societies makes each of these books one of those stories that you go on thinking about long after you put it down, and then bring out to re-read on rainy days. Showcasing well-paced adventure, and plots ornamented with clues to keep the reader guessing, the character interactions and Rafe’s irrepressible sense of humour really make this a great read for fans of sci-fi, fantasy, or steampunk.

Gifted, J. A. George

Gifted, J. A. George

Gifted

Gifted is an intriguing read, and Avery’s first-person storytelling will entice you into her life at a British university, complete with friends with bad taste in nightclubs and the cliques endemic to the lifestyle. The plausibility of J A George’s characters makes the contrast with Avery’s other life all the more compelling, as Avery’s chance encounter with one of the secretive ‘gifted’ people submerges her willy-nillly in a hidden world of telepathy and fire-raisers, bringing its own dangers and its own set of friends.

The book offers a nice blend of action and personal drama, and while the YA romance is present, it doesn’t hijack the real storyline, which is a refreshing change from many other books in the genre. The dating scene is humorously awkward, with a classic love triangle to keep the angst in play as Avery tries desperately to understand and control the fundamental changes in her life.

The book is clearly the first in a series; the build-up to the overarching plot is relatively slow in this first book, with the main focus on the characters and Avery’s discovery of her gifts, and the ending of Gifted is a clear cliffhanger to the next book. Despite this, I enjoyed this story. It was technically sound, and the storytelling was entertaining and light-hearted, with the fictional and supernatural elements well blended in. Definitely a solid four stars.

Reviewed for Knockin’ Books.

Gfted cover

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