5 star, YA

ARC Review: Dreams Lie Beneath by Rebecca Ross

Perfect for readers of The Hazel Wood and The Night Circus, this lush and layered story about magic and the captivating power of dreams is delivered with acclaimed author Rebecca Ross’s signature exquisite style.

A curse plagues the realm of Azenor—during each new moon, magic flows from the nearby mountain and brings nightmares to life. Only magicians, who serve as territory wardens, stand between people and their worst dreams.

Clementine Madigan is ready to take over as the warden of her small town, but when two magicians challenge her, she is unwittingly drawn into a century-old conflict. She seeks revenge, but as she secretly gets closer to Phelan, one of the handsome young magicians, secrets begin to rise. Clementine must unite with her rival to fight the realm’s curse, which seems to be haunting her every turn.



**Dreams Lie Beneath comes out November 2, 2021!**

Thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins for this copy in exchange for an honest review.

I have read Rebecca Ross’ books since her debut, The Queen’s Rising. And her latest standalone novel is just a testament of her growth as a writer and the marvelous worlds she creates.

The realm of Azenor isn’t super detailed in its world building but that is no matter because the characters and their history carry the story through. In a place where nightmares come alive every new moon, there rises magicians who use their skills to conquer and keep their delegated citizens safe.

Clementine is our heroine and I loved reading through her POV. Headstrong and loyal to her family, she never gave up on the home she grew up in, the people she cared for, as the daughter of a magician who taught her everything she knows.

The plot of the book is separated into 3 acts. I won’t go into super detail about each as I think a realm of surprise is an experience for this novel. But the pacing was superb, and it really felt like there was a climax within each act that kept me flipping the pages nonstop.

The first act really focuses on the world we’re settling into. Magicians have their own village or section within a city they are responsible for. They tend to the nightmares of these citizens so they are prepared to fight them on the new moon. But, sometimes, a magician can challenge another magician for that land they oversee, and oh boy, do we get introduced to our love interest here.

Clem obviously wanted revenge and so the book also embarks on this enemies to lovers romance wherein she decides to enact a crazy plan in order to make her enemies hurt as much as she suffered. Of course, one doesn’t expect she’ll start falling for the guy she’s spying on, our sensitive hero Phelan.

Yet at the heart of this is a mystery surrounding the curse that started the magical nightmares once a month. With a whole kingdom lost to whatever magic binds it, other things are in the works behind the scenes that Clem stumbles upon that may lead to the end of everything she grew up knowing. The key players involved in breaking the curse were not immediately known and so I had a blast trying to guess and figure out who in the story may be a player in disguise.

I feel knowing a little less about this book is better than knowing too much because it keeps the surprises going. I was constantly wondering where Rebecca was going with this plot, and I was always pleasantly surprised when I couldn’t quite guess it.

I did wish a bit more of the secondary characters had more depth to them, or just more of an appearance in the book. For example, Phelan’s twin brother is just a jerk but I really don’t know anything else about him that makes him more three-dimensional. At the heart of it, this story is really about Clem and Phelan. I’m not complaining about that in any way because I love them both, but some of the other characters felt a little like they had to be introduced in order to play a minor role.

There’s a lot of focus on family in this story too, and I definitely got emotional at the end. I loved the growth Clem goes through as she had to make choices to determine who she really wanted to become. By no means she’s always right, but I understood where she was coming from and her journey drew me in.

With magic in the air and a curse hanging over their heads, Clem’s story was a beautiful one filled with love, self-reflection and plenty of intrigue. I definitely recommend you look out for this book!

Overall Recommendation:

Dreams Lie Beneath is a solid standalone fantasy that follows young magician Clementine who is tasked to fight nightmares, as the consequence of a curse, that come alive every new moon. When unexpected events turned her life upside down, she plots to take back what she’s owed, but unwittingly starts falling for one of the magicians who may not be as bad as she thought. The curse breaking was another exciting element that gave a layer of intrigue as we follow Clem in decoding who the major players are for this task. So if you love a story with solid pacing, a sprinkle of mystery and plenty of slow burn enemies to lovers romance, my friend, this one is for YOU.

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