Thursday, May 02, 2019

Review: The Lost History of Dreams by Kris Waldherr

Title: The Lost History of Dreams
Author: Kris Waldherr
Published: April 2019, Atria
Format: ARC Paperback, 320 pages
Source: Publisher

A post-mortem photographer unearths dark secrets of the past that may hold the key to his future, in this captivating debut novel in the gothic tradition of Wuthering Heights and The Thirteenth Tale.

All love stories are ghost stories in disguise.

When famed Byronesque poet Hugh de Bonne is discovered dead of a heart attack in his bath one morning, his cousin Robert Highstead, a historian turned post-mortem photographer, is charged with a simple task: transport Hugh’s remains for burial in a chapel. This chapel, a stained glass folly set on the moors of Shropshire, was built by de Bonne sixteen years earlier to house the remains of his beloved wife and muse, Ada. Since then, the chapel has been locked and abandoned, a pilgrimage site for the rabid fans of de Bonne’s last book, The Lost History of Dreams.

However, Ada’s grief-stricken niece refuses to open the glass chapel for Robert unless he agrees to her bargain: before he can lay Hugh to rest, Robert must record Isabelle’s story of Ada and Hugh’s ill-fated marriage over the course of five nights.

As the mystery of Ada and Hugh’s relationship unfolds, so does the secret behind Robert’s own marriage—including that of his fragile wife, Sida, who has not been the same since the tragic accident three years ago, and the origins of his own morbid profession that has him seeing things he shouldn’t—things from beyond the grave.

Kris Waldherr effortlessly spins a sweeping and atmospheric gothic mystery about love and loss that blurs the line between the past and the present, truth and fiction, and ultimately, life and death.

My thoughts: As soon as I saw this book, I knew I wanted to read it...I loved gothic mysteries and even though I haven't read Wuthering Heights or The Thirteenth Tale, I still enjoyed this for the tale it was. And who knows, now I just might be inspired to pick up Wuthering Heights one of this days!

This gothic mystery is a multi-layered story within a story. It's a story of love and love, beauty and obsession, guilt and grief. I will say, much as I had expected, this does start off a little slow, taking its time to build up to the eerie, creepy factor that we all know these gothic stories are known for. It's not until the last 100 pages of so that I found myself speed-reading to see what all the secrets were...that was when things were came together.

I loved all the twists and turns this story takes. It clearly conveys the idea that not everything is as it seems, and we learn that right from the start. At its very core, this is a story about love, but it is told through many lenses and many layers of secrets and lies. 

This book captivated me and I loved the way everything unfolded. Even with the slow start, I found myself compelled by the story and the relationships between the characters. And I was completely fascinated by the idea of a post-mortem photographer. This book was equal parts eerie and fascinating and I look forward to seeing what comes next from Kris Waldherr!


1 comment

  1. Kristin, I'm glad that this book captivated you. It sounds like a compelling Gothic mystery. Excellent review!


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