Dream Waters (Dream Waters #1) Review

Dream Waters (Dream Waters #1)
By Erin A Jensen
Publisher: Dream Waters Publishing
ISBN13: 9780997171211
Pages: 418
Genre: Fantasy


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.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

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54 thoughts on “Dream Waters (Dream Waters #1) Review

  1. Great review! I’ve come across some YA fantasy books with definite adult themes running through them too. I guess it can be difficult to define ‘young adult’, though, so perhaps some authors aim their novels at the the older end of the spectrum? My friend and I were actually discussing this the other day and that was the only explanation we could think of.

    Think I’m definitely going to have to give this book a read ❤ It sounds awesome! I like books with an element of surprise 🙂 It keeps us readers on our toes!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jazz! I believe the author has this listed as contemporary fantasy maybe, which makes sense. I am seeing a lot of the “YA” label on GR and was like.. no. Just no. But I am no expert. I am not even clear anymore on what the actual age range is now for YA?

      I hope you do pick up and enjoy ❤ I would love to see you review this!


  2. One of my first draft posts I made for my blog was about the difference between YA and NA, because it wasn’t clear to me either. Maybe I should still post it if I haven’t deleted it already. It’s not only about age but also evolution, YA is all about firsts, first kisses etc, NA is already about jobs and carreers if I remember correctly, and more sexual. Anyway, I’m happy this transported you to a whole other – and believable – world. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Awesome review! I feel like as of lately there’s a blur as to what is YA and Adult. So I completely understand where you’re coming from. Definitely adding this one to my TBR because of the whole psychological aspect to it annnnnd I love anything that has fantasy elements twisted with what’s real and/or not real….never mind I just purchased it for my kindle lol it’s 99cents

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I get really angry when I see readers putting YA on Adult Lit books. When I say something I usually get the, “well it’s a marketing thing, so it’s subjective”, but that is so wrong. Libraries use it to shelve books, and it was a library appropriateness classification before people started talking about it in a book selling way. Not all books about teens are YA. I don’t know why people don’t know this, especially book bloggers. That’s why Victoria Schwab put a different name on her YA books and Adult Lit books,and why A.G Howard, known fir her YA book put an adult content label in her NA book.

    Classification wise YA is 12-18, grades 6-12, but last year all of these 18+, grade 13+ books started showing up as YA on Edelweiss. There is no “grade 13” if there was it would be college and that is NA classification. This is why I am a proponent of age stickers on books. Every book from picture books through YA on Edelweiss has age suggestions on it. I feel if the librarians and booksellers can have that information, parents should be able to have it too. When I am in doubt I always check on Edelweiss.

    I have been working on a post about this for almost a year now, I should get off my ass and finish it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Checking Edelweiss is something I had not thought of! Thank you. I am newer to reading some YA this past year, so I am learning that it is as you say. But this is definitely a case of the readers labeling and not the author or marketer from what I can see. Age suggestions are best. I check anything my kids read 😉


  5. I love the whole idea of this. So, it’s pretty much like alternate universes? Except when you’re awake in one you’re asleep in the other. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book like that before and it sounds really interesting. Plus, I love a fantasy novel that can keep a reader on their toes. I’ll definitely have to give this a read one day. Great review, Danielle! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t know.. All YA that I read usually has a main that is a teenager. Is that normal. It might be awkward.. I have no clue. I don’t want to read about teens having sex. Maybe I am missing something? But I am clearly no expert in the genre 😂


          1. Hahaha I’m laughing a lot with this conversation. I don’t know, I just think it’s realistic, but you’re right and maybe this one was really more adult! Great review (I didn’t say before sorry! :P)

            Liked by 1 person

  6. This is a really intriguing review for a very intriguing book. I love the premise, but I don’t know if I could get passed the dislike of a character. I’m glad you were finally able to make a connection. That’s so important– even in a book so filled with surprises as this one!
    How graphic was the sex? I’ve read books like Forever… by Judy Blume which features teenage sex, but it’s not descriptive. I’m just curious to better understand your thoughts on the age-appropriateness of this book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think maybe I was not clear.. these are not teenagers having sex. they are adults. I just felt that due to that the label of “YA” by some readers was not appropriates. It was not heavily graphic. I am sure you would be fine. I just feel like everyone thinks I am saying it is teenagers and that is not the case haha. I felt that this was a book about adults and that is why it did not ring true to YA. I hope that makes better sense. I may go back and add to my review to clarify.

      The character connection being slow worked out just fine, because I think a lot of it had to do with the mystery surrounding Emma. We were supposed to feel undecided in the beginning. She was not an angel entirely 🙂

      Thank you so much for taking the time to dive into it further with me. It has made me aware I made need to reword some things haha ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ahh- I understand much better now. YA is often written “up”, meaning the characters are older than the age of the intended reading audience. Perhaps the author just took this a bit far?
        I personally find that I need to talk through my thoughts on a novel before writing about it. When I am conflicted about something in particular, talking through it can help me find my voice. Don’t worry about your ability to articulate! This is why we have a dialogue. 😄

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Fab review! I was sold with “psychiatric ward”. I love this setting and you make the story sound so mysterious, fascinating and so well-crafted! I already feel so bad for Charlie. Gifts are not always a curse as they cut off people from everyone else. I like that the supporting characters also have a story and a purpose. I hate stories in which only the main character feels real.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Brilliant review… I was intrigued by the blurb when you first mention Dream Waters on your blog… but your review makes me want to read it as I’m totally intrigued by the fantasy aspect of it and I love well placed background characters! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Danielle. Thank you for the lovely review. Sorry to enter the conversation so late. I’ve been pretty absent in social media recently because of a terminally ill family member. Still, thought I’d chime in just to clarify. Dream Waters is adult contemporary fantasy. I’ve never labeled it as YA or NA. I think some readers just assume that anything fantasy is for young readers, but I’ve known plenty of adults who adored Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, The Hunger Games, etc. My books are for them (myself included)…the adults who still love fairytales and enjoy reading fantasy. Dream Waters is a fantasy to be read after you put the kids to bed, and was never meant to be anything else.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Erin! This is exactly how I thought it was intended and marketed 😉 I think the confusion comes from reader labeling on Goodreads and that maybe my original comment was not very clear. I think it is definitely perfectly categorized as adult contemporary fantasy! Thank you so much for following up 😊


  10. I think that the shelves on GR are based on how ppl who are on GR shelves the books. They have no rhyme or reason. Maybe ppl are shelving it in YA because of the age of the protagonists?
    Also, I think this is a case of an NA book being considered as YA. Authors don’t like the NA category bc it’s still small, and there’s really no section like that in Chain Bookstores. I think NA includes anything that has tennage protags that have sex. I personally don’t mind sex in my books as long as it’s not gratuitous like erotica or some romance.
    But this book sounds good, whatever genre it is!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is adult contemporary/fantasy with no teenage protagonist. I understand exactly wheat you are saying though. I think maybe one reader may have mistaken things and some followed suit 😉

      I never thought about it, but now since you mention it, some of the smaller stores truly do not have sections for NA huh. I guess that could definitely have an impact on marketing with a lot of titles. Interesting food for thought. Thanks ❤


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