Book Review

The Lost Dreamer

The Lost Dreamer

  • Author: Lizz Huerta
  • Genre: YA Fantasy
  • Publication Date: March 1, 2022
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Thank you to BookishFirst and Farrar, Straus and Giroux for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest opinion.

CONTENT WARNING: death, abuse, animal cruelty, blood, grief

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Indir is a Dreamer, descended from a long line of seers; able to see beyond reality, she carries the rare gift of Dreaming truth. But when beloved King Anz dies, his son and heir has no respect for this time-honored tradition. Newly crowned Alcan wants an opportunity to bring the Dreamers to a permanent end—an opportunity Indir will give him if he discovers the two secrets she is struggling to keep. As violent change shakes Indir’s world to its core, she is forced to make an impossible choice: fight for her home or fight to survive.

Saya is a seer, but not a Dreamer—she has never been formally trained. Her mother exploits her daughter’s gift, passing it off as her own as they travel from village to village, never staying in one place too long. Almost as if they’re running from something. Almost as if they’re being hunted. When Saya loses the necklace she’s worn since birth, she discovers that seeing isn’t her only gift—and begins to suspect that everything she knows about her life has been a carefully constructed lie. As she comes to distrust the only family she’s ever known, Saya will do what she’s never done before, go where she’s never been, and risk it all in the search for answers.

A stunning fantasy inspired by ancient Mesoamerica, this gripping debut introduces us to a lineage of seers defiantly resisting the shifting patriarchal state that would see them destroyed.

This book sounded so good, and I can’t lie; I was completely suckered by the gorgeous cover. I’ve heard some great things about this book, but there were some things that made it really difficult for me to fully lose myself in this story. Let me start with the things that I liked about this:

The story is set in an ancient Mesoamerican society, making it intriguing. I don’t see very many books with this type of setting; the only one that comes to mind is Rebecca Roanhorse’s Black Sun. This setting offers a different and intriguing world to explore, full of jungles, temples, and exotic wildlife. The mythology of the world was well-explored, and I loved learning about these legends.

“The Night Bird of our legends taking seeds from the Dream and creating the Waking World we lived in. The Twin Serpents rising from the roots of the first tree, creating an opening between the Dream and where we lived, gifting our ancestors with knowing and gifts. Over the ages, many of those gifts had died out, untended, though a few remained in the lands. The Dreamers carried one of the last gifts.”

The characters value strength and power, and it’s reflected in their view towards the bodies of other women. I loved seeing this body-positive influence, where stretch marks are seen as beautiful proof of providing new life, instead of being shameful. This sentence was one that I absolutely loved:

“She was born into a body of thick legs; even as a child, her thighs had rippled with beauty as she walked.”

The MCs, Indir and Saya, were captivating. The POV switches back and forth, but it wasn’t jarring or difficult to differentiate between the voices of these young women. They were both easy to empathize with, since they’re both stuck in difficult situations that take a lot of bravery to get through. Indir is facing down a lot of strife in the city, centered around the new ruler and the Dreamers, combined with the stress of keeping her own secrets. Saya’s life is changing as well, as she realizes some hard truths about her mother and their relationship, along with new discoveries about her own powers.

“The same words had been repeated to me so many times my entire life that they felt like truth. I tried to reason with myself. My mother lied to others constantly, small lies, lies that changed entire lives; why wouldn’t she lie to me?”

However, there were some things that made this book difficult for me to enjoy. The writing style was simple, often making me feel as though I was reading an MG novel instead of YA. There were some sections where more than one speaker was quoted within a paragraph, forcing me to read over it again to determine who was speaking. At times, the same character would say something and then the next paragraph would be a continuation of their words. 

The magic system was intriguing, but I never felt like I fully understood it. There’s a lot of talk about the gifts, but very little about how they work or what they do. I found it confusing, since there’s only a few gifts that are ever really discussed, while others aren’t explained at all. 

“Gifts were private, and rare. They had been dwindling for generations across the lands, a slow leak of power. Those with gifts were encouraged to use them to help others, but having a strong gift could also be dangerous.”

Much of the book was very slow-paced, which I found very frustrating. The storylines don’t cross until the very end of the book, but by that point I had already figured out the twist, so it didn’t come as a surprise at all. What I was surprised by was the fact that the story ends on a cliffhanger, despite not being marked as a series. So much of the conflict and issues within the story aren’t resolved at all, leaving the book with an unfinished feel. There’s so much that isn’t explained. And I have to be honest, there’s a scene of animal cruelty that really bothered me, along with at least one incidence of animal sacrifice. Overall, this wasn’t as good as I hoped, which is always disappointing when it’s a book I truly wanted to love.

People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.

Gasp Factor: 6

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