Tricia Sullivan's Sweet Dreams was published by Titan Books in July 2019.
About the author:
Tricia Sullivan is an award-winning writer of SF, Fantasy and YA. Her third novel, Dreaming In Smoke, won the Arthur C. Clarke Award for best SF novel. Her work has encompassed cyberpunk, space opera and near-future satire. Her novels have been shortlisted for the BSFA Award, the Tiptree Award, the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. An American, she has lived in the UK since 1995.
Click here to visit her official website.
About Sweet Dreams:
Charlie is a dreamhacker, able to enter your dreams and mold their direction. Forget that recurring nightmare about being naked in an exam - Charlie will step into your dream, bring you a dressing gown and give you the answers. In London 2022 her skills are in demand, though they still only just pay the bills.
Hired by a celebrity whose nights are haunted by a masked figure who stalks her through a bewildering and sinister landscape, Charlie hopes her star is on the rise. Then her client sleepwalks straight off a tall building, and Charlie starts to realize that these horrors are not all just a dream...
REVIEW: SWEET DREAMS BY TRICIA SULLIVAN
Tricia Sullivan's Sweet Dreams is an excellent combination of science fiction and surrealism with elements of humour, thriller, mystery and horror interwoven into the story. It's a wonderful exploration of dreams and dream world with an emphasis on entertaining and thought-provoking storytelling. It's an utterly fresh and thrilling reading experience.
I was impressed by Sweet Dreams, because it's not your normal kind of speculative fiction, but something different. It's an addictive near-future thriller that took me by surprise with its quirky and unusual story that is speckled with many details. I'm happy to say that this novel is one of the best and most entertaining speculative fiction novels I've read during the recent months.
Tricia Sullivan is clearly an author who is not afraid of experimenting with speculative fiction and writing something different, because this novel is wholly original and wonderfully imaginative. What I find perhaps most intriguing about this novel is that it has a perfect balance between style and substance. All the details, characters and happenings have a purpose in the story and the author spices things up with a few carefully chosen brutal and sexual elements.
Here are a few words about the story:
Sweet Dreams tells of Charlie, who is a dreamhacker. Charlie can enter people's dreams and manipulate things inside the dream. If you're having a recurring nightmare, Charlie can change the course of the dream and make your life easier. As fas as she know, she's the only one who has this ability. She also suffers narcolepsy, which means that she can fall asleep at the most inopportune moment. When Charlie is hired by the famous harpist Melodie "Mel" Tan, who happens to be her ex's current girlfriend, her life becomes complicated, because the woman dreams of a masked Creeper and then sleepwalks off a tall building. Charlie realises that she may not be the only one who can enter dreams and affect them. She finds herself under investigation for Mel's murder and the Creeper's next target...
The characterisation in this novel is excellent, because all of the characters are intriguing and will have an impact on the reader with their uniqueness. I love the author's way of creating eccentric, quirky and memorable characters who are not perfect, but flawed like real people, because they bring depth and freshness to the story.
Charlie is an especially intriguing protagonist due to her ability to step into people's dreams and change them. Her life is somewhat extraordinary, because her uncontrollable narcolepsy may leave her vulnerable and weak in a wrong place or at a wrong time. When she dreams, she visits the surreal Dream City that is unlike the real world (the author's vision of the Dream City is stunningly vivid). Charlie's life is not easy, but she has coped as well as she can under the circumstances.
O, the elderly lady who helps Charlie, is a compelling and well-created supporting character. She finds clients for Charlie and has helped her in many ways. Although being completely different, O somehow reminds me a bit of the fictional character Clarissa Mullery from the British crime TV series "Silent Witness".
The scenes featuring Charlie and the Creeper are intense and unsettling. The author brings plenty of suspense to these scenes by making them approriately mysterious and foreboding.
The concept of dreamhacking intrigued me a lot. Hacking people's dreams comes with a responsibility, because a dreamhacker can do a lot of good to people and can help them overcome their fears and phobias, but can also cause harm to people and kill them.
The bits and pieces of humour the author has added to the story makes this novel compelling, because humorous elements lighten the atmosphere in a thrilling way. One of the things that impressed me about this novel is the author's effortless way of writing about embarrassing and personal things in a surprisingly natural yet quirky way. This is something that is not often seen in speculative fiction.
It's difficult to compare this novel to other speculative fiction novels, because it differs quite a lot from them, but it has a few elements that are reminiscent of E. J. Swift's Paris Adrift and Tony Ballantyne's Dream London and Dream Paris. If you're familiar with these author and their novels, you'll most like love this novel and will find it compelling.
If you're in need of something original and immersive to read, you should read Tricia Sullivan's Sweet Dreams as soon as possible. It's a little slice of excellence for readers who love captivating and well written stories that differ from the norm. Its imaginative story and colourful characters will impress and satisfy many readers.