Series: Portland Hafu #1
Published by World Weaver Press on April 4, 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology, New Adult, Urban Fantasy
Sexual Content: Kissing
Reviewed by: Rebecca
Koi Pierce dreams other peoples' dreams.
Her whole life she's avoided other people. Any skin-to-skin contact--a hug from her sister, the hand of a barista at Stumptown coffee--transfers flashes of that person's most intense dreams. It's enough to make anyone a hermit.
But Koi's getting her act together. No matter what, this time she's going to finish her degree at Portland Community College and get a real life. Of course it's not going to be that easy. Her father, increasingly disturbed from Altzheimer's disease, a dream fragment of a dead girl from the casual brush of a creepy PCC professor's hand, and a mysterious stranger who speaks the same rare Northern Japanese dialect as Koi's father will force Koi to learn to trust in the help of others, as well as face the truth about herself.
It’s rare for fantasy books to have a lived-in setting. Instead of existing just to explain backstory to the protagonist, DREAM EATER’s side characters don’t care if Koi Pierce is confused and uncomfortable. DREAM EATER also doesn’t waste time trying to make you like Koi Pierce. You like her or you don’t.
There are moments when Koi feels like a real person, like when she’s talking to her sister and father or thinking about her mother. There’s a strong sense of family and duty and never fully gets explored. There are other moments when Koi becomes a cardboard cutout of a person. Name-dropping can be a great worldbuild technique but Koi’s constant references to coffee, chocolate, and Portland doesn't make her a better character. I don’t need to know the names of the barista’s at Koi’s preferred coffee shop. I don’t need to know that she’s craving a super special type of chocolate.
There’s are elements in DREAM EATER that are never fully explained. Professor Hayk is killing to gather power but it’s never quite clear what he’s getting out of the deal besides a criminal record. There’s a brief mention of being a mayor? If I had the power of a god behind me, I’d aim a little higher. It’s unfortunate because most of the book is Koi being dragged through the action and plot, first by Hayk, then Ken, then by her family. Most of the time, it feels like the reader is being dragged along with her.
The book’s focus on Japanese and Native American mythology is a welcome break from the endless Greek and Norse inspired books. Koi’s family unit is small but close. Which makes it a shame and we never really get a full sense of those characters. Koi’s exploration of being baku and her evolving relationships will continue but nothing concrete has been announced. As is, DREAM EATER is a good book to pick up if you’re interested in other myths and if you don’t mind an unlikable main character.More Reviews:
For more Japanese mythology, try Daughter of the Sword (Fated Blades #1) by Steve Bein.