Dreaming Death by J. Kathleen Cheney

February 2, 2016 2016, B+, book rating, Goodreads, NetGalley, Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge, New Release Challenge, Reading Challenges, reviews 8

dreaming-death-by-J-Kathleen-CheneyDreaming Death by J. Kathleen Cheney
Series: Palace of Dreams #1
Genre: Fantasy
Setting: a fantasy world with sensitives and complex political systems
Published by Roc, 2016
Format: e-Arc (Release Date: February 2)
–I received a review copy of this book from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated here are entirely my own.
400 pages
Grade: B+
Synopsis: Shironne Anjir’s status as a sensitive is both a gift and a curse. Her augmented senses allow her to discover and feel things others can’t, but her talents come with a price: a constant assault of emotions and sensations has left her blind. Determined to use her abilities as best she can, Shironne works tirelessly as an investigator for the Larossan army.

A member of the royal family’s guard, Mikael Lee also possesses an overwhelming power—he dreams of the deaths of others, sometimes in vivid, shocking detail, and sometimes in cryptic fragments and half-remembered images.

But then a killer brings a reign of terror to the city, snuffing out his victims with an arcane and deadly blood magic. Only Shironne can sense and interpret Mikael’s dim, dark dreams of the murders. And what they find together will lead them into a nightmare…

Initial impressions

  • I loved this book! The characters are so interesting and the world building detailed and rich. A gripping and chilling mystery runs throughout the story.

The details and merits

  • The book begins with a murder which was hard for me to read about. Someone is doing blood magic, but why, what do they hope to accomplish and who is it?
  • I had a hard time getting into the story at the beginning, because the author throws a lot of things at the reader. However, once past the first couple chapters I couldn’t read fast enough–which was frustrating because sometimes I couldn’t read since I’m very busy with my “real” life at the moment…lol!
  • So much goes on in this book it’s hard to write a review describing it all and explaining how much I liked this book.
  • The world building is very rich. The author did a great job of showing this society. It’s really complex and I’m not sure I understand all of it, but I love it. I’m ready to read the next book now to sink into this world again!
  • Some of the people in this world are sensitives–they sense others’ emotions. I liked reading about the history of why and how some people are sensitive. The sensitives don’t like Mikael, because his emotions are so loud.
  • The book shows a number of points of view–Shironne, Mikael, Colonel Cerradine, murder victims, for example.
  • I like Shironne (she’s a touch-sensitive and perhaps the only one alive) and Mikael a lot. We find out things about them slowly and that makes me want to know more. Mikael dreams about death and when he does Shironne sees what he’s dreaming. She calls him the “Angel of Death.” At the beginning they’re aware of each other, but haven’t met. It’s a mystery how and why Mikael dreams about death and how Shironne has become aware of his dreams.
  • Ms. Cheney does a great job creating distinct characters I feel I know–Shironne and Mikael, of course, but also Deborah, Kai, Colonel Cerradine, Elisabet, Dahar.
  • The book is really a fantasy mystery since the characters are trying to discover why people are being killed, how and why it relates to an old case, who might be next and who is doing the killing.
  • The book is dark and scary at times–especially as they get closer to the killer.

The flaws

  • I sometimes had trouble keeping the characters straight since there are lots of characters in this book. At first it’s hard to remember names and exactly who they are and where they fit into the story.
  • I had trouble understanding the political worlds and who belonged where. There is overlap between the Families and the Houses. An article on Ms. Cheney’s website helps.

And a few thoughts . . .

  • This is so different from The Golden City books. I still need to finish that trilogy and I want to even more now!
  • I had to struggle some to understand the world this book is set in, but I think the best fantasy and science fiction makes the reader struggle a little to understand it. I can’t wait to read the next book!

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • J. Kathleen Cheney is nothing if not versatile in her story telling, but weaving through her work is a common thread, that of the improbable heroine. From worlds set in humanity’s distant post-apocalyptic future to alternate worlds of today or of the near past, Kathleen’s heroines include a siren who with help from a gentleman of the city must stop a regicidal plot, the neglected daughter of an absent king coming to terms with her shapeshifting ancestors, a blind teenager who dreams of others’ deaths and who uses her gift of touch to find their killers, and the widow of a trainer who with a most unusual horse must save her farm and way of life. All use their unusual gifts and talents to overcome obstacles and find their place in the world.

Reading Challenges

8 Responses to “Dreaming Death by J. Kathleen Cheney”

  1. Rita

    Sometimes when an author starts a SFF series they need to set up the large cast and the world-building and it can be confusing until the actual plot takes root. It sounds like the pros for this title outweigh the cons, or at least they are understandable flaws. If I pick it up I’ll be sure to check out Ms. Cheney’s website first 🙂
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  2. Lark

    You changed your header again! Looks good; I like it.

    Good review; you’ve been really specific about what you like without giving anything away. I wanted to read the Golden City books and haven’t gotten to them yet, but this also has me intrigued. I love it when an author combines fantasy and mystery. But you say it gets pretty dark… I don’t know, I sometimes handle that better in fantasy than in books set in our world, but I’m still not crazy about it. Should I try the other series first?
    Lark recently posted…Treasures From the Hoard: Take a Thief (Mercedes Lackey)My Profile

    • Jan

      Thanks, Lark! I’m changing my header each month for about a year (started in September). After that I’ll decide what to do next!

      This isn’t too dark. I don’t like dark books either. But I think perhaps I would start with the Golden City books. The first book is set in an alternate Portugal–such an interesting setting and characters.
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