In My Dreams I Hold a Knife | Review
Rating - ⭐⭐1/2
One college reunion.
One unsolved murder.
A college reunion turns dark and deadly in this chilling and propulsive suspense novel about six friends, one unsolved murder, and the dark secrets they’ve been hiding from each other—and themselves—for a decade.
Ten years after graduation, Jessica Miller has planned her triumphant return to southern, elite Duquette University, down to the envious whispers that are sure to follow in her wake. Everyone is going to see the girl she wants them to see—confident, beautiful, indifferent—not the girl she was when she left campus, back when Heather’s murder fractured everything, including the tight bond linking the six friends she’d been closest to since freshman year. Ten years ago, everything fell apart, including the dreams she worked for her whole life—and her relationship with the one person she wasn’t supposed to love.
But not everyone is ready to move on. Not everyone left Duquette ten years ago, and not everyone can let Heather’s murder go unsolved. Someone is determined to trap the real killer, to make the guilty pay. When the six friends are reunited, they will be forced to confront what happened that night—and the years’ worth of secrets each of them would do anything to keep hidden."
In My Dreams I Hold a Knife is a standalone mystery thriller novel by Ashley Winstead.
This book was just not for me, and I recognize that which is I didn't give it a lower rating than what I did. Mystery aside, which is a whole other can of worms, this is a book that follows a group of unlikable characters and their drama, which is something I just don't care to read about. The best word I would use to describe it though would be 'uninspired' because I feel like I have read this before.
Let's get into the details.
While the writing itself I was mostly okay with, there were elements in this that I didn't quite enjoy. For one, there was a lot of description rather than dialogue.
The story is told with a dual timeline, switching between 2019 (the current time), and 10 years prior when the character were in school. It is also mostly told through the perspective of Jessica, although there are some individual chapters from other characters in order to dispense needed information that Jessica herself was not present.
We follow the East House Seven, a group of friends who reunite for their school's 10th year reunion. It has also been 10 years since the murder of one of the seven, and what better time than now for the mystery behind her deal to be revealed.
Right from the beginning, I had a feeling that I wasn't going to be particularly impressed with the mystery. Part of that was because I didn't care for the character through which the story is told through and the part was the big massive hole that was the reveal. While I will admit it did go in a direction I didn't fully expect, half of the reveal was really (really) obvious. As in before even going into the story you already expecting it coming...which impacted my reading experience severely, and not in a good way.
Instead of going over the character dynamic in the next section, I am going to talk about it here as it plays a huge role in the story. As this is a character-based story, the book mostly follows the lives of the cast as they interact with each other. I already mentioned how the majority of the characters were unlikable, and their relationships were not different. It was just a mess of cheating and unhealthy friendships and relationships that drove the story, and I simply didn't enjoy it.
Ah, the characters. To make a story like this, you need unlikable messy characters. Too bad for me that if the story is not good enough to withstand them, it takes my reading experience way down. If the story isn't phenomenal, and neither are the characters, I am not going to have a good time because nothing balances out.
I am only going to go over Jessica, the protagonist, since she stood out (and bothered me) the most out of everyone. Red flags popped up right away for me when she was described as being mediocre. I knew what direction this was going in because you quickly learn that all she cares about is being seen by people. That kind of character is not something I like to read about, so we were off to a bad start with her.
The rest of the characters were either just unlikable or were too stuck in their archetypes. The only character who I thought had gravitas and could have made the story more interesting were Heather and Jack. Heather, being the one that was murdered, isn't focused on as much as I would have liked her to be. I think the story should have delved more into her story and background instead of shoving her to the side because she was the victim.
As for Jack, he is in the same position as Heather as he is the one who was suspected of killing her. Because of that, he doesn't go to the reunion and is mostly absent from the book aside from being in flashbacks. To me, this was again a waste of potential because he could have made for a more interesting story (and he was the only relatively likable character).
For some reason, this reminded me of Sydney White, but make it a mystery thriller (and I would take that over this any day). If you enjoy books that follow a group of messy unlikable characters then you would probably love this, but I don't so this gets a no from me.