November 28, 2010

Review: Dreams' Dark Kiss by Shirin Dubbin

Dreams' Dark Kiss
Author: Shirin Dubbin
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: December 20, 2010
Pre-Order Information:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Carina Press

*Generously provided by the publisher via NetGalley

For more information please visit Shirin Dubbin's website.

Ciaran Letang has taken care of preternatural business since childhood. Her job is soul conducting, ferrying the dead into the afterlife. She’s never had reason to be afraid. The ankou, nightmarish beasts escaped from the Dreaming, will change that tonight.

For Keoni Maka, protecting dreamers is business as usual. Meeting the enthralling, yet annoying, Ciaran is a life-altering event. One that will force him to face both his childhood demons, and those born of nightmares melded to hijacked human flesh.

The pair will have to suck-it-up and deal because the ankou pack leader plans to take dominion over the waking world—and he means to do it now. Together, Ciaran and Keoni must avert their enemy’s schemes or risk an invasion akin to dropping the Earth into the pits of hell.


Dreams' Dark Kiss by Shirin Dubbin is an interesting novella filled with action, a soul mate inspired romance and an original plot based in the world of dreams. With intricate world development as well as marvelously written characters the world Dubbin's created has a lot of potential. However, I should mention that due to its length this novella did leave me hanging a bit. While the story is resolved, and is nicely done at that, the overall disappointment at having the story end so quickly stuck with me. I would have liked to see the characters and romance explored a bit more as well as gotten more information on the Dreaming and it's inhabitants in general. So while this story didn't disappoint the overall breadth of the material did.

The world created known as the Dreaming is complex, filled with creatures and rules that defy the imagination. An interesting realm where all of your fantasies and nightmares come to life, and also the road that souls must travel to reach their final destination, the Otherside. But, this is only a small piece of the Dreaming. We quickly come to discover that this realm is larger and more diverse then we, or the protagonist, initially realized. Likewise, the creatures and beings that inhabit the world and the rules that govern the Dreaming are more complicated then originally believed as well. Some of these creatures even wish to extend their reach into the Waking World and for that they need Ciaran and the abilities she is only just discovering. Overall, this was an interesting and unique approach that had me reading to find out more about the world and creatures that exist within it.

Ciaran was a likable protagonist and her story was endearing. From her abusive relationship to her world turning upside down with the discovery that she is more then she thought possible, we are drawn in to her life and can sympathise with the situation she finds herself in. It was interesting watching her psyche and injuries sustained by her ex repair in the presence of Keoni, a Sumnian or rather Dream Guardian that she has chosen, unwittingly, to bond with. Keoni also is an extremely lovable character. His carefree, easy going nature often makes it easy to forget his prowess as a warrior who protects the Waking World from the monsters that live within the Dreaming. His charming wit is a nice contrast to Ciaran's sarcasm and the relationship between the two has a wonderful chemistry that seems to pop off the page.

Truly Dubbin has a wonderful knack for character development because the peripheral characters are equally intriguing as Ciaran and Keoni. From the other Dream Guardians to the evil Ankou who is pursuing Ciaran who supposedly holds the hope for it's plans of world domination I was enthralled by their distinct personalities and curious to learn more about them. For instance, Archer's history is a point of great interest for both the reader and Keoni. Then there is the Beast and the Man, or rather the Ankou who is pursuing Ciaran. The voice with which he speaks is wonderfully demented and dark perfectly fitting the character and I couldn't wait to read more to get a peek to his motivations.

The plot of the story is quick, with the action beginning from the first word. The writing style was fluid, but at times the use of foreign languages slowed it down a bit, as did the description of the rules involved within the Dreaming. At times these descriptions seemed a bit chaotic and left me scratching my head, but through the actions and conversations between the characters I was able to better understand the world. I think this had a lot to do with the descriptions being a lot of information in a small span of time, like they were forced into the story thus throwing off the pace and action. The passages also seemed to lack the fluidity that the rest of the novel had.

I think my only other issue with this book was the fact this it was a novella. At 120 pages this is a really quick read. With so much to be explored within the story, this just sort of left me feeling a little...well, empty. With all the action and nicely developed characters it was a disappointment to have the story end so suddenly. However, I feel I should clarify that statement as Dubbin does a marvelous job of tying up the novella as well as not making the ending seem abrupt. In point of fact I did enjoy the end of the novel and the almost redemptive quality about it, a theme that seems to work throughout the novel.

So, in the end I found this to be quite an enjoyable read despite the little hindrances and the length. The action and romance kept me interested throughout and the original premise was wonderfully developed and explored. Dubbin did a marvelous job at bringing this fantastical world to life.

My Rating: 3½ out of 5 Scars


Advisory: Some Sexual Content


Shirin Dubbin said...

Would it help to know I've started plotting a second book in the series, featuring Jay? ^_^

Oh, and I can't wait to share more about Archer and his greatcoat...

Wenj said...

YAY! I can't wait to read more about these characters!! Wonderful news indeed. :)

Shirin Dubbin said...

Very cool! I'll keep you updated as things progress.