Read Dreams of Shreds and Tatters by Amanda Downum Online


When Liz Drake's best friend vanishes, nothing can stop her nightmares. Driven by the certainty he needs her help, she crosses a continent to search for him.She finds Blake comatose in a Vancouver hospital, victim of a mysterious accident that claimed his lover's life--in her dreams he drowns. Blake's new circle of artists and mystics draws her in, but all of them are lyinWhen Liz Drake's best friend vanishes, nothing can stop her nightmares. Driven by the certainty he needs her help, she crosses a continent to search for him.She finds Blake comatose in a Vancouver hospital, victim of a mysterious accident that claimed his lover's life--in her dreams he drowns. Blake's new circle of artists and mystics draws her in, but all of them are lying or keeping dangerous secrets. Soon nightmare creatures stalk the waking city, and Liz can't fight a dream from the daylight world: to rescue Blake she must brave the darkest depths of the dreamlands. Even the attempt could kill her, or leave her mind trapped or broken.And if she succeeds, she must face the monstrous Yellow King, whose slave Blake is on the verge of becoming forever....

Title : Dreams of Shreds and Tatters
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781781083277
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 256 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Dreams of Shreds and Tatters Reviews

  • karen
    2019-04-14 10:11

    from netgalley page:Lovecraftian urban fantasy, but it's Lovecraft with all the worst exceses taken out.typo aside, i am definitely intrigued by lovecraft minus the things i don't like about lovecraft.

  • Lindsay
    2019-03-31 13:00

    Flashes of brilliance, but I think there's at once too much and too little here.The story is that reality appears to be a thin veneer over a darker more horrific world of magic and demonic creatures from the dark realities that underpin our own. We're introduced to a group of people who are exposed to this, and then we're following a woman with a loose connection to that group who is drawn in by her own nascent powers as a dreamer.We follow the dreamer, Liz and her partner Alex as they try and rescue her friend who was one of the victims of the group we were first introduced to.When I say too much, I'm talking about mythology and magic. There are Greek, Egyptian, Christian and literary influences without any coherent narrative as to why these are all part of the world. In fact the way magic and the demonic are portrayed here it's a surprise humanity got as far as banging rocks together, particularly if it's all this simple for people to access. And most of the characters here are just hapless; imagine if these demonic forces were to encounter someone actually evil. The When I say too little, there's some seriously interesting character elements that are just nodded at. Liz appears to be asexual for instance, and this is without comment. There's no indication why Alex accepts that to be part of their relationship, and in the entire book there's only one sentence given to explain his feelings about that. The jackal (again, a term without comment, although it's a fair assumption that they have something to do with "Sebastian Sands") Lailah suddenly has a sexual relationship with another character. There's no explanation given regarding that, and it is implied that it could just as well be because of what the other character is, rather than actual emotional attraction.It all ended up being quite frustrating.

  • Althea Ann
    2019-03-29 17:09

    I'm writing this review a little while after actually finishing the book, but I felt I had to get around to actually reading all of Robert W. Chambers' 'King in Yellow' stories before giving this a fair review, since the book is an homage to that mythos.Having now read both, I'll say - it's not really necessary, but it's certainly fun to compare.Chambers' 'King in Yellow' posits a work of art - a play - which drives the reader mad, possibly by showing them a glimpse of horrific realities beyond human comprehension. Downum skips the play, and skips right to the horrific realities, which is a bit of a shame (I like the idea) - but the 'feel' of the story is spot-on, and in keeping with Chambers' creations. If he'd been writing in the 21st century, instead of the 19th, this is something like what he might've written.With its depiction of eccentric young characters involved in subcultures & the art scene and caught up by powers beyond their control, I was also reminded of Kathe Koja's horror novels and Lauren Beukes' 'Broken Monsters,' a bit. Liz Drake's best friend Blake moved to Vancouver a while ago, and they haven't been in touch. But when she is suddenly plagued by vivid and terrible dreams concerning him, she insists on traveling out there to see if he's OK. Unfortunately, he is most certainly not OK. In Vancouver, Liz and her partner Alex discover a maze of occult ritual and mind-altering drugs... which Liz must navigate, Eurydice-like, to enter strange realms and attempt to save Blake from the alien land of Carcosa and the malevolent clutches of the Yellow King.Many thanks to Rebellion/Solaris and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book. As always, my opinion is solely my own.

  • Kagama-the Literaturevixen
    2019-04-03 13:10

    I recieved this ARC from Netgalley and this is my honest review of it.Liz Drake wakes up from a dream,no a nightmare about her friend Blake She convinces her partner Alex that they need to go to Vancouver and see him. Her dreams are not like other peoples dreams,they are so vivid she sometimes finds them more real than the waking world.Blake and his boyfriend Alain were found washed ashore on a beach. Alain died. Blake ended up in a coma and has been that way ever since.After visiting his apartment they discover Blake had ties to the Morgenstern gallery run by the charismatic Rainer and his partner Antja.Liz goes to the beach where Blake was found and finds the Triskelion ring she gave him as a gift once. Its found at a house owned by Rainer. He is looking more and more like he knows more than he is letting out.When Liz sees a painting of Blakes at the exhibition Rainer brings them to,featuring a door through wich can be seen a strange city she faints and as she is catched by Rainer she asks without thinking if it makes any sense...She swallowed, scrambling for an excuse. Dizziness. Too much champagne. But when she opened her mouth, what came out was, “What is that place?” She felt curious stares as other people drifted into the room, but couldn’t pull away. His electric eyes narrowed, calculating. “Carcosa.”She now understands that Blake is not just in a coma. His spirit is lost,gone to Carcosa and its up to her to bring him back from the clutches of the city and the Yellow King.There is a drug called Mania loose in the city.It is changing the people who use it into something...otherThis is the first book I have read by Amanda Downum and the reason I wanted to read it so badly because it involves a fascinating literary creation called the King in Yellow or The Yellow King.The Yellow King is a character or maybe I should say concept first created by the author Robert W Chambers in a book of connected stories named "The King in Yellow". The title also being the name of a play in the book that drives people to madness if they continue reading it beyond the first act.It drew inspiration from the works of Edgar Allan Poe ,Oscar Wilde and Ambrose Bierce and it has in its turn inspired (or at least appeared in their works)authors like Lovecraft,Stephen King and many more. It has also featured in tv series and musicI am just sad I didnt find it as a thrilling read as I imagined it would be.I felt that the strongest bits in the book where when we were following Liz. There were way too many other viewpoints from other characters when I just wanted to stay with Liz and find out more about who she was and more importantly about what she was.As for the supporting characters. From Liz partner Alex to Rainer Morgenstern...well they are all a bit pretentious to be honest. Liz has her moments of pretentiousness but while I found them a bit endearing in her I found them offputting when others were wallowing in it. There is a particular scene where a toll is asked and one of the things Liz is asked to give up is one of her favorite words.She spends a moment thinking about all the long and complicated words she loves and that she would hate not being able to use. Liz froze. She loved so many words: sesquipedelian, penultimate, numinous, liminal, spleen, cellar door—did that count as one word?—incandescent... Pick one, the bridgekeeper said with a sigh, or we’ll be here all night. And nights in Carcosa are very long. It might have taken her that long to choose, but far in the distance she heard the waves of the black sea breaking against the shore, their rhythmic hiss and rush— Susurrus, she said. A word. Not your firstborn. Just a word.I found Blake to be a little bit of a cliche, the sensitive and handsome young artist who is also gay.And speaking of that is Liz asexual ,or does she just has crippling anxieties about intimacy? we are left with no answers.She’d spent years thinking she would sleep alone for the rest of her life, after she outgrew childhood slumber parties and realized that the heat of lust and sex that drove the world was something she would never experience. To have found someone willing to look past that, to settle for the negotiation and compromise of a relationship without the haze of pheromones, felt like a dream from which she was constantly afraid of waking. For this reason I didnt understand the relationship between Liz and Alex oh I can understand the convenience of it but not the reasoning. To me it seems they would have been better off just being friends and roomates. Liz is happiest when she dreams.Her dreams are so real She is also full of guilt because of a tragic incident in her past wich ended up claiming a friends life. Wich makes it believable she would go to great lenghts to keep another friend from danger.This book made me feel confused and more than a little stupid, like I was not getting how brilliant it was.As for the writing I did find it to be evocative but it often descended into something I would like to call "word porn". How many interesting words can we cram in to describe something anything. It just felt very excessive.I also noticed what I believe to be some formatting issues, in the beginning of sentences would be a mix of capital and lower case letters also there were some slight spelling mistakes.PS. The cover is utter perfection

  • Kat Mills
    2019-03-30 12:01

    I really disliked this book, and I'm deeply disappointed, considering how much I just adored Downum's Necromancer Chronicles. Mostly, reading it brought to mind the recent tragic death of Tanith Lee, and how very, very,VERY MUCH better she would've done with this material. Downum doesn't seem to possess the right style to evoke the kind of dread wondrous mystery that's needed to pull this off; she gestures at it with elaborate language, and fails very nearly utterly. Every now and then she nearly hits it - a few of the early moments with Liz in Carcosa; the terrible angel that visits Rainer. Not to mention, I couldn't stand any of the characters. Rainer and Antja are supposed to be the impressively glamorous arty types who lure people astray to awful dooms with the power of their irresistible charisma; in fact they come off as the pretentious kids every art class holds who talk about Dada as though they're the first ones to notice it since 1919 and smoke coloured cigarettes unironically. Liz is described (by Alex) as being thoughtful and considerate and empathic unlike his other girlfriends (including an evil witch named, of course, Samantha); in fact, by her actions she is utterly self-centred, gives Alex barely a second thought, and is obsessed by her search for Blake beyond all reason and for no particular cause that's ever explained in the narrative. (Do not get me started on her asexuality, which she smugly thinks of as being utterly accepted by Alex when his point of view indicates just the opposite, including a pathetic moment in which he thinks "sometimes she gives me pity sex." If you're going to present a happy asexual relationship then by the gods make it truly consensual and fulfilling for everyone. This situation makes Alex into a friendzoned sucker, and Liz look even more selfish than she already does.) Alex has a Memory Palace, which should tell you just about everything you need to know about the kind of person he's supposed to be. There's somebody named Rae, whom I could never tell apart from Liz without skipping back pages. She's an addict of the magical drug.The plot's messy, and mostly fuelled by Liz's obsession and Special Dreams, with a salting of just about every supernatural thing you might like - magic evil addictive drug? Sure! Zombies? You got it! Mysterious Dream City? Indeedy! Witches? Yep! Deal with the devil? Absolutely! Deal with the King in Yellow, who is not the devil? Fer sure! Mysterious women who are somehow "jackals" and responsible for cleaning up supernatural messes? Them too! Supernatural helper figure who assists Our Heroine out of the otherwise impossible tangle of the finish and lends her his coat? Yes! Plus he shows up in Mundane Vancouver afterwards with a business card! None of it is consistent (indeed, there's a mention someplace of "competing powers") and the effect is, to say the least, unfocussed. We finish with a big fight scene in Carcosa, which is supposed to be Steeped in Wickedness and Deeply Portentious, but reads like a Buffy episode, a tidy succession of blood and blows. Blake is saved, albeit with black-tinged veins from his experiences (a phenomenon, again, that is clearly intended to evoke a creeping horror and instead reads like mental CGI). I think by the end they're a sort of a threesome, which may at least mean that in the clearly-signposted sequel poor Alex may get some slightly more enthusiastically-consenting ass.It just doesn't work, is the problem. Start to finish, top to bottom, it really didn't work. I think I'm going to go have a nice re-read of Tanith Lee's Tales of the Flat Earth, which is everything this wants to be and more.

  • Justine
    2019-04-11 14:15

    I wanted to like this more than I actually did. The writing itself is quite lovely for the most part, and Downum does a spot on job of portraying Vancouver as the setting for this mystical tale. However, throughout most of the book I felt like I was watching an indie art film filled with interesting scenes that unfortunately never quite came together at the end in any kind of a satisfying way.

  • Craig
    2019-04-20 12:22

    An ambitious, if uneven update of the King in Yellow set in modern Vancouver. The plot has echoes of Orpheus and Eurydice, with the ‘underworld’ being the surreal, doomed dreamscape kingdom ruled by an eldritch abomination. Graduate student and lucid dreamer Liz and her boyfriend Alex search for her missing friend, the artist Blake in Vancouver. They find themselves enmeshed in a sinister drug and magic fueled underworld.Pros: The characters are for the most part, skillfully drawn. Kudos to the portrayal of the sexuality spectrum. Liz is an asexual in a loving, if complicated relationship with her boyfriend. Blake was involved with a male lover. All of these facts are presented in an organic manner. The writing is lovely and full of atmosphere. The nightmarish imagery of the liminal world of Carcosa, with its strange constellations and ruined, sky-piercing towers, is worth the price of admission.Cons: The plot was a bit muddled, and a couple of characters—particularly the gun toting badass monster killer Lailah—was a bit of a false note. It felt like she belonged to a different story. The novel is short; I would have liked to linger in the author’s world a bit more. The loose ends the author leaves dangling would make an excellent sequel.Recommended for fans of weird fiction, Caitlin R Kiernan, Shirley Jackson and the music of CocoRosie.

  • Marjolein
    2019-04-21 14:02

    Read all my reviews on I should really learn to read at least part of a blurb before deciding I want to read a book based on the pretty cover and awesome title. Perhaps in that case I would have had different expectation. Because although the cover screamed Urban Fantasy to me, it was a completely different kind of Urban Fantasy I got.Liz has powerful dreams, together with the mystics she encounters on the search for her friend Blake that's the fantasy you get. The rest of the story left me feeling unsatisfied and looking for something more to get from it. I didn't feel for the characters, and since I was unfamiliar with the concept of the yellow king, I didn't find that as interesting as it could have been. (But that's my fault of course).I've been asking myself whether I would have liked the story better if I hadn't thought it would involve more fantasy, but frankly I'm not sure. I also read a lot of mystery books or books that just have a little something that's unexplainable, but this book fell short in those genres as well. It probably just wasn't the book for me.Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

  • Joseph
    2019-03-29 16:17

    Exists in that tenebrous and debatable border region between urban fantasy, horror and dark fantasy. I'm reminded of nothing so much as some of Clive Barker's more fantastickal works -- Imajica, say, or Weaveworld.Liz Drake finds herself, with her friend Alex, flying across the continent to Vancouver after her friend Blake suffered an ... incident ... that left him in a coma and his boyfriend Alain dead. There she finds herself caught up in inexplicable events that tie together members of the Vancouver art scene, users of a new street drug, and a strange, otherworldly city called Carcosa ...Decidedly Lovecraftian, not in a tentacular-monsters-eat-your-head way but in a what-if-we-wrote-a-Dreamlands-story-from-the-perspective-of-the-dreamers'-friends kind of way. Nightmarish and compelling.

  • Richard Denney
    2019-04-17 13:20

    The writing is beautiful as hell... but it had its ups and downs. It was boring. It was interesting. It was boring. It was interesting. It was boring. I still enjoyed the story through it all.

  • Ashleigh
    2019-04-11 11:20

    Dreams of sheds and tatters is an interestingly titled and eye catchingly covered book written by Amanda Downum containing the story of Liz as she tries to rescue her friend Blake from something she doesn’t quite understand in a place she can only visit in her dreams. I picked this up randomly after amazon suggested I’d read it and as it was on offer for 99p and as I said the title and cover intrigued. As usual, I didn’t read the blurb past the first sentence so I was not prepared for this book. I’ll start with what I liked… I liked the ideas mostly in this book… I loved that the protagonist (Liz) was asexual and wish was explored via her relationship with Alex (her skinny asthmatic British boyfriend) instead it was all very vague and it was hinted at that she begrudgingly was intimate and that something seemed to have gone on in the past…it basically ended up feeling like the author threw in that Liz was asexual half thought out as a way to fill out space in the book. There were a few other ideas that intrigued but basically ended up going this same way. I read in a few other reviews that they found the characters pretentious and I can’t agree more… there are far too many pretentious unlikeable characters and I kept getting confused by who was who, I also found every character (except Liz at times) completely unrelatable and unlikeable and therefore it was a trudge getting through this book. This book was also filled with so many “big words” it was just annoying. Many words were just obscure and I had to look them up… I don’t like a book to make me work too hard to read it, especially if I don’t like the characters and the plot really isn’t gripping me. The plot btw… I’m not even sure what went on. There are good ideas here but unfortunately for me, this book just was not a pleasurable(enough) read. I can’t say I’ll recommend it or that I’ll even remember it in a few months’ time. But I did finish it ... so there you go.

  • Amanda
    2019-03-25 13:53

    This was a quick fun read but it felt overdone to me. I never really connected with the story or the characters.

  • Yzabel Ginsberg
    2019-04-11 12:01

    [I received an advanced copy of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]Granted, I took my sweet time in reading it... so by now the book has been out for quite a few months. Overall an interesting experience, though I expected more out of it. I've been fascinated by the original work behind this, The King in Yellow, for a couple of decades, from the weight it bore in Lovecraft's works to the stories by Robert Chambers that actually inspired it. Simply suggest one nightmarish yet terribly beautiful and sublime (in a Burkian sense) city, and I will think "Carcosa". And while we don't have a play here, we do have art, including the painting of a door.Mostly I liked the descriptions, especially of what happened in dreams and how some people in Vancouver were affected. Liz the dreamer, chasing after her friend Blake to bring him back from his coma. Blake, lost in a place he doesn't understand, where pain and promises of eternal pleasure tempt him both. Rainer and his circle of artists who dabble in magic too potent for them. Rae and other people addicted to mania, a dream-inducing drug that does just that, and more, turning them into zombie-like creatures desperately wanting to taste the real dream. Above them all, the shadow of the King in Yellow, watching from his throne, and the Twins, waiting for an opening. Waiting for, yes, a door.Such imagery I found quite fascinating, even though I admit it didn't extend to the actual Vancouver (rain and cold is standard weather where I live), and that I found myself eagerly waiting for the oneiric dreams, the ones involving Liz seeking Blake in the strange streets, corridors and rooms in Carcosa, under inhuman skies. Those were the most interesting scenes for me. Also some other mysteries, such as Lailah and the two other "jackals", which may or may not be akin to certain hounds living beyond the folds of time and space, but......But that's one of the problems that prevented me from enjoying this story more: a lot of side stories and hints that made the characters more enjoyable, and paradoxically were really frustrating, as they're not resolved in the end. Alex, for instance: his past involvment with Samantha was brushed upon, where it would have deserved more, considering the sequels it left him with. The artists, too: running from a Brotherhood, rivals of another wannabe sorcerer, the beginning of a strange relationship where Rae was concerned... yet all of this collided a bit too fast (almost in a chaos that may have been intended to mirror the circumstances everybody was thrown in, only it didn't work that well). Such subplots deserved either more developement, or not to have been included at all, as the middle ground didn't feel so satisfying. More answers as to who was what and what was who would have been appreciated. Where does Liz's power come from? What about the memories she sacrificed, would those come back to bite her later? What exactly is Lailah? What role did Seker play, apart from being some deus ex machina?Also, a lot of the characters had a sort of "hype" edge bordering on pedantic, as if they were trying too hard—including the asexual relationship thrown in there (are Liz and Alex happy that way? Because Alex sure doesn't seem to be, not that much). I'm all for various kinds of relationships instead of the usual, often bland typical ones, but something didn't quite fit here.I still liked this story, mind you. I just expected more out of it, I guess.

  • Stephanie
    2019-03-29 16:03

    To join the ranks among my favorite books, a novel will need to meet the following criteria:1. After putting it down, I continue to think about it.2. The central plot moves at a good pace.3. The characters are three-dimensional.4. The world within the book is also three-dimensional.5. It will either change the way I see the world, or it will teach me something new.I am happy to say that Amanda Downum's upcoming novel, Dreams of Shreds and Tatters, exceeded all of my expectations. I absolutely loved it, and it is now officially listed as one of my favorite books.Dreams of Shreds and Tatters is an intricate web of ancient deities, mythological stories, fairy tales, magic, and Lovecraftian horror. The book follows several characters, however the central plot surrounds Liz Drake. Liz's best friend (Blake) has moved to Vancouver. She begins to worry when Blake stops responding to her calls. Liz begins having a reoccurring nightmare where Blake is drowning. To make sure he is okay, Liz travels to Vancouver... but her worst fears are confirmed when she finds him in a coma.  Things get complicated when Liz meets Blake's new friends, who appear to be keeping secrets from her--secrets that may involve the nightmare creatures which are walking the streets of Vancouver. To rescue Blake, Liz learns that she must travel to the darkest corner of her dreams... and face the Yellow King.Downum has skillfully re-imagined the Yellow King from Robert W. Chambers' book, The King in Yellow. The Yellow King, as envisioned by Downum, is an ominous, powerful figure. Most of the other central characters appear to come from the author's imagination. They were intelligently created, echoing Downum's meticulous eye for detail. This same complexity is displayed in the more minor characters, which have their own motivations and back stories.Liz's dreamlands are equally well written as deep, dark places of towering proportions. Her journey to rescue Blake is not unlike Sarah's journey in the 1986 film Labyrinth; there are many  colorful dimensions and creatures, and all of them were given the author's undivided attention. In fact, every character undertakes their own unique journey. Dreams of Shreds and Tatters is an epic creation of science fiction and urban fantasy. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys mythology, magic, and fantasy.

  • Ingrid
    2019-04-07 09:06

    I rarely put books away without finishing them and even when I do I have a feeling of guilt for taking longer than I should have, especially for the length of this novel which normally should've been done in a couple of days tops. Like the general atmosphere in the entire book, it left me feeling rather cold and extremely unsatisfied. I think it started off rather well and even accomplished hooking me with the first couple of pages but then after that it's just a bunch of jumping around from character to character and cutting from setting to the next in a span of a couple sentences with a great lack of continuity. Kind of like when you miss a step but you don't fall flat on your face and you're on the next paragraph trying to still make sense of what happened then. (Oh he was there and then he wasn't? Ok got it.)I feel like there were a lot of parts that were nicely--even beautifully written, evoking that Lovecraftian language but more often than not in just not the right amount. I put the book down a couple of days ago, defeated and disappointed because I really wanted to like it but it was either just not the right time or the narrative is just really not my cup of tea. The atmosphere was beat to death (when is rain and cold weather NOT going to be depressing?), It was really hard to connect the (painfully predictable) characters that were also trying a little too hard to be relatable. I feel that there were two or three characters that could've been merged into one, that's how unnecessary and lacking in depth they were. I kind of wanted to know if Blake wakes up in the end and I almost just flipped through to the end but I felt like I at least owed it to leave the only little bit of mystery in the book untouched, putting it out of it's literary misery prematurely. Definitely not for me.

  • Jeff Raymond
    2019-04-08 11:10

    I'm probably at the point right now where if a book is described as Lovecraftian in any way, I'll probably take a flier on it. Dreams of Shreds and Tatters is a book that's been on my radar for a while, and, while it's more Lovecraft-adjacent than anything (given the Chalmers/King in Yellow inspiration), it does do one thing exceptionally well, and that's instill the sense of dread that Lovecraft was so good at and modern Mythos literature often forgets.The plot is fairly straightforward, with a woman and her vivid dreams and a comatose friend who is basically under the thrall of The Yellow King. The story is a balancing act between the real and the supernatural, and is just unsettling from beginning to end in a way that just makes a lot of things work.I wish I had more to say about the book. It's a light story (when it's described as Lovecraft without a lot of the excess, the slimness of the story and the lack of excess fat in the plotting is really what's being described) and the way things go are just worth it for the ride. While the dread was there, my investment in the story, on a whole, was not in the way it was for a lot of other stories. I felt like I was more watching a film or observing as a third party, which is not always my reading experience.Overall? Horror fans who like the sort of Weird Fic balancing acts that are so popular will find a lot to like here. Chalmers fans should definitely check it out as well, but if you're looking for something scary or more splatter-style, this might just not be your cup of tea. Not for everyone, but if you read the synopsis and think it sounds interesting, you're likely to enjoy.

  • Orrin Grey
    2019-04-10 08:53

    Imagine the best World of Darkness game you can think of. Now strip out the mythology and replace it with equal doses of Lovecraft and Chambers, as filtered through the delightful kaleidoscope of Amanda Downum's own personal vision, and what you're left with is an urban fantasy that owes more to Clive Barker than to Kim Harrison. The best parts of Dreams of Shreds and Tatters are probably when the novel is repurposing Lovecraft and Chambers, mixing them with Greek myth to create a cocktail that's often headier than its component parts. It's rare enough to find a novel that engages at all with Lovecraft's dreamlands, rarer still to find one that does so to such great effect, while still remaining its own creature. The descriptions of Carcosa alone are worth the price of admission.Before writing this, I skimmed some of the other reviews on Goodreads, and one of the complaints I saw repeated was that people felt lost, disconnected, as if there was stuff going on that they didn't understand. Maybe this is just an indication of what I'm looking for that's different from other readers, but I loved the intricacies of this book. The competing factions of mages, the vying supernatural entities, the various cabals and sub-plots that were never fully resolved. The sense, ultimately, that what we were seeing was a small part of a vastly--perhaps infinitely--larger picture. A very personal story against a cosmic backdrop.

  • Veronica
    2019-04-23 17:20

    Most of this book was very "meh" for me, which I know is a highly articulate statement. The writing was functional but rather boring, the characters were insipid and vague, though points for attempting to portray non-heteronormative relationships (emphasis on the plural). The plot felt fairly convoluted due to a lack of appropriate world-building or at least fleshing out what is going on. I don't need an info-dump explanation, but I do need a coherent sense of the world in the story and this just didn't have it. It was kind of fun to see the Yellow King pop up somewhere other than True Detective, but I almost feel like that was part of its gimmick as the yellow king here is a mismash of Dionysian mythology and....a bunch of other Greek myths smashed in there. There were leathery angels too and a sentient thing at the bottom of a black ocean and a red star rising, and druggies and demonic hunters which I think were on the bad guys' side, and a mysterious egyptian dude who had some sort of awesome hidden power, and humans using magic...all of these things individually might be cool and interesting, but mashed up together here with little cohesion and it was just dull. I know this is a bit lazy of a review, if you even want to call it that, but I'm not sure I can give this book any more attention.

  • Frances
    2019-04-07 17:16

    Kinda torn on this one. It's a solid contemporary dark fantasy with occasionally truly lovely language; I couldn't really give it less than three stars. At the same time, it's a King In Yellow NOVEL, which is a rare and wondrous thing; I can think of one other. One. That's really hard to pull off, especially (I think) with the supernatural as a pervasive influence rather than as a final-conflict-big-bad.And I know the King In Yellow is fairly obscure, so I feel a bit odd rating it in the context of something that many people might not be fond of, but I'd also feel odd ignoring that...(Upsides: the nightgaunts. And Nyarlathotep. Or the thing I comfortably persist in reading in Nyarlathotep.)So: four stars, with the rider that I am speaking as a fan of lost Carcosa.

  • Glaiza
    2019-03-30 10:21

  • Marina
    2019-04-22 16:20

    For some reason, I was under the impression this book was YA, turns out it isn't, which actually surprised me and, in a way, raised my expectations. I wasn't wrong in doing so, this is an intriguing book that very easily pulls you into its world, which isn't a small feat, but the author succeeds in mixing this magical/obscure atmosphere with a realistic setting without losing the reader in the procees, be it to over exposure or lack of it.However, it wasn't the story itself that made me like the book so much, but rather the diversity within it. This is a rich urban fantasy world, and in this kind of story you rarely expect to read about a cast of characters that feel both real and unlike everything you're used to. Liz, the protagonist, is assexual and in a loving relationship, which is presented without much fuss or really spelled out for you, but that's huge and amazing to see. Blake, Liz's best friend, has a boyfriend, and within his group of friends that are also more lgbtqia+ characters. It was so refreshing to read a book where this is presented so naturally, never the true focus of the story, but clearly planned and executed with care.For that alone, this book has my heart, but the story is also well worth the read, filled with tension and incredible imagery. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to read a creepy story about magic, obscure art scenes and a decent ammount of queer people.

  • Matt Fimbulwinter
    2019-04-05 10:21

    Urban Fantasy in the tradition of Charles De Lint, but older and darker, with a heavy dose of Lovecraft mixed in. While Downum didn't literally write this book for me, personally, it feels that way. The people all feel like people I know, or knew. Except that none of the sorcerers I've known were German. The characters are all the sort of people who probably hung out at goth clubs when they were younger, though for some of them it was because there wasn't anywhere else to go, rather than actually being goths. Some of them definitely used to draw eyeliner squiggles.Much like in Kingdoms of Dust, though, these characters are older, and more focussed on things like their art careers, or have to admit that they never liked the smoke and loud noise. Or the scene just broke up with too many breakups and relocations. They've got important stuff in their lives, and none of it has prepared them for the terrible angels and forbidden dreamland they have been drawn into.This book felt so intensely alive and present, not just visually stimulating, but evoking touch and taste and sound and scent. The world just a half-step away from mine. It also left me wanting a couple drinks - both chartreuse, and the cocktail I get credit for in the acknowledgements (the Bete Noire - coffee liqueur, Kraken and campari).

  • Chris
    2019-04-24 13:00

    A very average urban fantasy adventure. Not too long and not overly verbose. Most of the character beats and plot structure you'll recognise along with very worn out tropes. I would probably have given it a 3* rating and enjoyed it more if it wasn't for one thing. It is so smug!The whole book shows off constantly with unnecessary vocabulary splurges and references to elements that aren't in the plot, whilst having characters mock other existing books. I could recognise the passages of the original Beowulf without having them explained and understand a character describing themselves as auto-didactic but it adds nothing. One of the worst offences is it likes to compare the story to Orpheus and Eurydike (making sure to use the K so we know the writer knew the original Greek spelling) but it bares no more than a passing resemblance.If you want a nice quick read and you like the genre it's one for you but don't expect anything special.EDIT: I note a lot of other people reviewers talk about the importance of the King in Yellow mythos to appreciating this book. I will fully admit to not being familiar with Chambers work so take my review with a pinch of salt if you like.

  • Karina
    2019-04-19 09:54

    Very lyrical and moody, but only skimming the surface of characters, and really just not a whole lot going on. Probably good for "dread mood"-enthusiasts who are into the whole King in yellow thing? Maybe? To me, this was really more That-Portishead-album-from-the-90s-esque than Lovecraftian.

  • Sonya
    2019-04-02 15:59

    This book was a solid two stars until "Because I've fought my way here through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered." I've seen Labyrinth enough times to know one of the most popular lines. Plagiarism is not okay.

  • Meg
    2019-04-14 17:11

    Couldn't finish it. It was more druggy-urban horror than the urban fantasy I was hoping for.

  • Spencer Hughes
    2019-04-05 11:03

    This is a book that gets better by the page.Dreams of Shreds and Tatters starts off on the weak side: character archetypes suggest themselves easily, the prose seems to want to go places it can't yet, and not every sentence is quite what it could be. But it succeeds in making a strong promise, saying "this will get good and you'll want to be here when it does." The rest of the book upholds that promise.Though characters seem archetypal early in the book, their layers and complications develop naturally and frequently. They become quite fleshy by the middle. While meeting the characters in the early pages, I found the editing side of my brain constantly thinking "ah, yes, one of these," or "oh, god, not another one of those," but by the center of the book almost every character had proven to be more than I'd assumed, growing in depth and layer by the chapter.The prose also seems to become more certain of itself as the book progresses. The stylistic choices become clearer and more purposeful, the sentences more varied, the words more attractive. There are still some hiccups (we get it, Liz's eyes are agate!!), but overall the prose gains momentum throughout. A lot of momentum. At the beginning of the book, my editor-brain was whispering "oh, this is quite fine I suppose," but by the end of the book, I found myself muttering darkly "why didn't I come up with that sentence? why didn't I think of that metaphor?" and wondering what strange and esoteric dealings the author might've made to develop her craft to such heights. Wondering if it might be possible to steal her powers through some forbidden and sinister knowledge.At page 40 of the novel, I was fairly confident that I'd be giving it a 3-star rating. By the end, I was significantly more impressed. I'm giving it the average of the two scores. Do the math.Now, craft and character aside, the content is remarkable. As a reader (and, to some extent, writer) of a lot of horror and dark contemporary fantasy (and/or urban fantasy), I've developed a relatively working notion of tropes and trends and commonalities, and many of these were subverted, twisted, or shed in this particular novel, much to my delight. It was a novel novel. Ahem. The content is lighter than your average horror and significantly darker than your average contemporary fantasy, hitting that wonderful sweet spot between the two adjacent literary categories. And it does a fantastic job leaping and somersaulting between the two, using hints and implications of each to play up the tension and drama of the tale. It also did a fantastic job at something that made me quite jealous, something very difficult to 'get right' in the world of urban fantasy: it all seemed quite possible that this would happen and that normal people wouldn't know a damned thing about it. It's a stumbling block for a lot of dark contemporary fantasy and supernatural horror: how the hell would all this be going on and people wouldn't notice? But the intimacy of the story, and the way the Things That Go Bump weave through the material world, and the focus on the characters and their all came together to create an ultimately believable modern supernatural story. And, in the world of urban fantasy, 'believable' is seldom achieved.I would recommend this novel to any fan of dark fantasy, supernatural fiction, or horror. I advise waiting a while before judging it too harshly: where most books falter in the middle, this book gains tremendous momentum; where most books drag through Act Two, this book hits its stride. Pick it up and don't put it down.

  • Sól Emil
    2019-04-09 11:06

    I don’t have much to say about this book. Maybe it’s not one of Downum’s best works (it’s the only one I’ve read) but frankly, I don’t think she’s a very good author. She uses a lot of long, fancy words, but the sentences connecting them have no flow and they are neither captivating nor vivid. I do appreciate the LGBT+ heavy character cast, it’s refreshing to read something that has completely sloped heteronormativity. Sadly, this doesn’t do much, since basically all characters are flat, inconsistent, and I don’t think I cared for even one of them at the end of the book. When I finished the book, I felt nothing (except maybe a small tint of relief). But I’m not a big fan of urban fantasy, so maybe that played a role in my disappointment in the book.

  • Caeli Faisst
    2019-04-17 08:57

    I have a lot of feelings about this book and none of them are great. First of all, let’s start with lack of character development-wait, scratch that-lack of characters in general. The characters were flat and I felt like I was reading mediocre fan fiction. The story moved very slow and felt like the author was trying to shove in too many things (mythology, religions, book references, etc.) without any real goal. And while I could have pushed past those, what really made my jaw set was the ending. The author basically stole chunks from Jim Henson’s Labyrinth and gave the old college try and switched some words around. This book honestly could have been really cool and I’m upset it didn’t do the cover artwork justice.

  • Rufus Woodward
    2019-04-18 15:57

    Dark, urban fantasy with touches of Lovecraft and many a nod to Robert Chamber's King in Yellow. Its a promising and initially interesting set up, but ultimately gets bogged down with too many characters and too many uninteresting action set pieces to be really satisfying.Love, love, love the title, though.