When Arthur Middleton sees the figure of a man in his room, he assumes it’s another of the hallucinations that have plagued him since childhood. When the figure speaks and names himself Fox, Arthur is no less convinced that Fox is a product of his own mind. But he finds Fox charming and kind and, unlike his other visions, Fox brings no fear. Instead he proves to be the friend that Arthur has desperately needed.
Fox is no hallucination. A gentleman thief, he’s surprised to find the fragile Arthur essentially a prisoner in his own home and plagued by demons that may be real or imagined. Over the course of many visits, the men grow closer and Arthur starts to push back against the stifling medications and deprivations that have been his life for more than a decade. But escaping the realities of his situation are easier said than done. It will take all of Fox’s cunning and all of Arthur’s strength to break free. But in the end it may not be enough to save Arthur from the hell of his own mind.
We Met in Dreams was a delightful surprise. Whatever I expected this book to be when I read the blurb, We Met in Dreams turned out to be an emotional, angst-laden journey of self discovery. So just my cup of tea. Arthur and Fox are both fascinating characters, but there is no doubt this is Arthur’s story. After a fever as a child left him plagued by voices and visions, he became a victim of well meaning, but ultimately flawed caregivers. They have kept him dosed on laudanum and swathed in darkness, effectively secluding him from the rest of the world. And there he would have stayed if not for Fox. Clever and kind, Fox is man who often fails to see his true worth. He blames himself for the death of a previous lover and when he discovers Arthur, he doesn’t plan on becoming so attached to the man. Arthur is stronger than he realizes and as readers it’s heartening to see him start recapturing the parts of him he thought lost. He is surrounded by people who love him, so there is no sinister work here. They are just misguided and while they have done Arthur great damage, it’s hard to dislike them for it.
There is only one stumbling point in We Met in Dreams and that’s the end. The pacing and plot up to this point are excellent and in perfect unison. But then the author chose to invoke one of my least favorite literary tropes [spoiler] and played the ole amnesia card.[/spoiler] It was unnecessary and changes the nature of the relationship between Fox and Arthur. It adds a layer of drama that simply doesn’t fit well with the wider story and seems so extraneous. It is only a small part of the book and while it leaves We Met in Dreams ending with less surefootedness than it could have, it doesn’t completely detract from an otherwise strong novel.
We Met in Dreams is an excellent novel that starts off as a bit of a ghost story, but ends with one man’s struggle to reclaim his own mind. Even though the end faltered a bit, the book as a whole is wonderful and definitely a must read for anyone who enjoys a quality angsty romance.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.