Dream Waters (Dream Waters #1)
By Erin A Jensen
Publisher: Dream Waters Publishing
All his life, Charlie Oliver has watched the people around him morph into creatures that no one else sees. Unlike the rest of the world, Charlie remembers the Waters that transport him to the Dream World each night. And he sees glimpses of people’s Dream forms in the waking world. Condemned to spend his waking hours in a psychiatric facility because of his Dream Sight, Charlie doesn’t expect anything to change. But everything starts changing the day Emma Talbot walks through the door in the middle of a group therapy session.
Haunted by memories of the events that led to her admission, Emma plans to end her life the first chance she gets. But something about Charlie stops her. From the moment they shake hands, his friendship feels safe and familiar. As Emma begins to let down her guard, Charlie catches a glimpse of the fiery-eyed dragon that lurks behind her Dream form. Each night, as Emma dreams of the man who’s been banned from visiting, Charlie searches the Dream World for the monster that shadows her. But when Emma’s suppressed memories begin to surface, Charlie finds more monsters than he bargained for.
Before I move forward, I want to address something I have noticed. I am seeing Dream Waters classified as YA Fantasy by some readers. I have to disagree. Maybe those who read the genre more can put a valid argument forward as to why I am wrong, but the sexual content says adult in my opinion. (I would like to add that the sexual content was used to establish a clear character connection and worked very well for me in this sense).
With that being said, Dream Waters is definitely a fantasy novel, make no mistakes. But it has also managed to be so much more. It is a story full of magic, love, adventure and mystery all wrapped into one beautifully presented package.
Our main character Charlie is anything but ordinary. And it is this very fact that has kept him locked away in institution after institution his entire life. Cursed (or blessed?) with the ability to see the Dream Form of others, he is misunderstood to be delusional and schizophrenic. Faces and people change before his very eyes. But it is all real as he happens to be connected to a Dream World that really does exist. Now, abandoned by a mother who could not understand, he spends his days alone, wandering the halls of a psychiatric ward living with this “gift”.
Then one day everything changes as the young, frightened and beautiful Emma is admitted. They quickly become friends as he vows to protect her. But will she be able to accept the truth about Charlie? And why has she been placed in psychiatric care? As their friendship develops, secrets are revealed. Charlie soon discovers more than he imagines and the real adventure that ties them both to the Dream World begins to unfold.
Charlie is by all means, a wonderful main character. He demonstrates that he is caring and protective through the love he quickly develops for Emma. He is also somewhat snarky and defensive as he has spent years being shuffled through the system and alone. While I was unable to fully fall “in love” with him, I grew fond of him very easily. There is a certain amount of sympathy established when we realize he lives with this ability that has altered his entire existence. I also found his need to defend Emma, charming. For me, I adored Charlie the way one might a younger child. He is simple at times, exposing his more sheltered and needful side. But in the end he wants to be the good guy, and he is.
Emma was a bit of a challenge for me. Charlie adored her, therefore I felt obligated to do the same. However, I was struggling to even like her in the beginning. She was almost too helpless and fragile for me. It was not until more of her story was revealed that I was able to establish a small connection. I realized that she was damaged and hurt. Her suffering made her character slowly come to life as her credibility was established.
One of my favorite aspects of Dream Waters was the constant element of surprise. While there was a lot of mystery built around learning Emma’s story, the biggest enjoyment was the true revelations of the supporting characters. Keep your eye on them. The author has beautifully placed and created each with real purpose.
If the title does not speak to you enough, the world building is imaginative and refreshing. We are shifted between what we have always perceived as the only reality and the truth Charlie has lived with, the Dream World. While awake in one, you sleep in the other. The author has assured that these worlds coincide perfectly by avoiding any unnecessary frivolities. She exposes the readers to a concept that is fascinating but never “too much”. Each plane is constructed exquisitely through alternating narration that is presented chapter by chapter in a clean and precise manner.
Avoiding any unwarranted confusion, the writing is fluid and elegant. We are introduced to a truly distinct idea that is presented in the most engaging manner. While there is a lot happening within Dream Waters there is never a moment where it begins to feel overwhelming or drawn out.
The final result was a captivating read that left me satisfied yet excited for the next installment with an unexpected twist at the end. I am trying to keep this review on the lighter side because Dream Waters is a journey of discovery. If I had to use one word to sum up Dream Waters, it would be stunning.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐