I was asked to provide an impartial review of Dream, a novella, by Robbi Sommers Bryant for Indiependents.org.
Robbi Sommers Bryant’s novella Dream is a satisfying adult fairytale, which works as long as the reader doesn’t probe too deeply into the logic of the story.
The story begins with Veronica, a woman who has affairs to fill a void she feels in her life, meeting up with Andrew, who she sees as another male who can quiet her craving. Up to that point, the reader might think Dream is a Shades of Gray take-off, but the story takes an original turn when we learn that Andrew’s goal, in addition to the sex of course, is to share the dream-world he’s been exploring using a book left behind by his grandmother.
Told in sections by alternating points of view, the dream world soon becomes the central focus of the story as Veronica is strongly drawn into that world to the point where Andrew fears for her well-being as she begins to explore it without him. Eventually, inhabitants of the dream world interact with the two explorers as well as with Veronica’s husband who is searching for his missing wife.
What happens to their bodies while they are in the dream world never becomes entirely clear. The first few times Andrew and Veronica enter it they are lying together on Andrew’s bed holding onto each other and they awake in the same location, but the next time Andrew awakes Veronica is missing. She shows up in a field near Andrew’s house, although it’s unclear as to why or how her body moved. Later still, when neither Andrew nor her husband, who has arrived on the scene, can find Veronica’s body, they don’t look for her outside the house. Why not?
Bryant throws a crafty twist into the story to bring about a satisfying ending, solving one of the questions I had while reading, which was the lack of a counterpart in the human world of one of the primary characters in the dream world.
Dividing the story into sections each representing different characters’ points of view works for most of the story, but Bryant is forced to depart from it at the end. These frequent POV shifts as well as chapter separations chop up the story more than necessary. Merging some of the shorter chapters within certain sections would help.
Bryant shows a command of the language that someone of her past accomplishments would expect. She builds tension effectively, uses interesting techniques, such as bringing out Veronica’s character through her internal dialogues with the voice of her sexual addiction, and her characters feel real. I did, however, cringe at the cliched family background of Veronica’s husband and disbelieved his occupation as a race-car driver in part because the wife of a successful driver would not be working as a hairstylist and Bryant does refer to his winning races.
Dream will appeal primarily to women readers. It’s an original tale with a neat ending.