The Dream Keeper's Daughter- Emily Colin
My Review - 5 Stars
Kickass lady academic main character? Check. Past-present storylines? Check. Time travel a la Outlander? Check. Lost love? Check. Swoon-worthy bad boy best friend? Check. Character with inexplicably accurate intuition? Check.
This novel had my name alllll over it.
I raced through the pages, wanting to know more at every turn. The writing was evocative and crackled with energy. I could practically taste what the characters were eating and smell the various environments they inhabited. We primarily get Isabel's perspective in the present, as well as her memories of her relationship with Max leading up to when he disappeared.
We also get Max's perspective in 1816 Barbados. I did not know a slave uprising had occurred there and the depiction of the events leading up to it was done well. The uprising was ultimately unsuccessful and many slaves were killed as a result so Max wants to prevent it from happening, even as he is horrified by the way the slaves are treated. He walks a thin line on both sides as a strange white man, not wanting to arouse suspicion of the white slave owners while understandably not being trusted by the slaves. This leads to so many potentially interesting discussion questions.
My feelings were all over the map with this novel. From the opening pages, I was sure it would be a 5 star book. I inhaled the story. I was fascinated by the mechanics of time travel, in which Max has been gone for 8 years in the present day but he believes he's only been gone 2 weeks. I wanted to know more about their daughter Finn's ability, as either a highly sensitive and intuitive person or someone with ESP. Most of all, I wanted Isabel and Max to be reunited. Of course, I did.
But then I started to see where Colin was taking the story and I did not like this. Not because it was a bad plot choice but my own personal preference. I don't like love triangles and I wanted her best friend Ryan to stay her best friend, not her potential interest. Although let's be clear, I loved Ryan's character. His backstory was heartbreaking and I loved the way he supported Isabel and Finn. His scenes with Finn were incredibly touching. I decided to trust Colin but the novel was hovering at 3 stars in my mind.
I was right to trust the author. Her choices made for an ultimately more interesting story. There was no predictability to be found. Yes, you hope Max and Isabel's mom Julia (who went missing years ago) will make it back to the present but beyond that, Colin is making up her own rules. I wasn't sure I agreed with her choices but they were fresh and unexpected so the novel moved up to 4 stars. I grudgingly accepted the ending. It was not my preference but it made perfect sense for the characters and the story.
In the weeks that have followed, I kept turning the story over in my mind. The way the novel alternated seamlessly between past and present, the history of Barbados, the rich character growth. The bold moves with the plot. It all made for a better book and I couldn't help but respect Colin more for it. Because of all this, the book returned to 5 stars.
This was an interesting ride, to say the least, and I look forward to reading more from this author.
An archaeologist discovers her presumed-missing boyfriend is trapped more than a hundred years in the past—a love story that transcends time and place, from the author of the New York Times bestseller The Memory Thief.
Eight years after the unsolved disappearance of her boyfriend Max Adair, archaeologist Isabel Griffin has managed to move on and rebuild her life with her young daughter, Finn, her last tie to Max. But after a series of strange incidents, Isabel begins to wonder if Max might still be alive somewhere, trying to communicate with her. She has no idea that the where isn’t the problem—it’s the when. Max has slipped through time and place, landing on his ancestral family plantation in 1816 Barbados, on the eve of a historic slave uprising. As Isabel searches for answers, Max must figure out not only how to survive the violence to come, but how to get back to his own century, the woman he loves, and the daughter he has only ever met in his dreams.
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Disclosure: I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Affiliate links included in this post.