Title: Dreams of Justice
Author: Allison Maruska
Genre: Paranormal Mystery
A young professor is haunted by mysterious dreams that soon turn all too real and all too deadly in this paranormal mystery by Allison Maruska. At a glance, Sonia James seems to have it all: a stable and fulfilling job, friends who support her, and a loving fiancé. Yet every night she experiences horrifying nightmares of being murdered, and it’s starting to seem like these aren’t just products of an overactive subconscious, but rather a cry for help.
Paranormal mysteries rely heavily on tight plotting and attention to detail, and in both respects this book hits the mark. Maruska used alternating timelines and parallel storylines to establish much of the groundwork for the story, a risky move that would have seemed erratic and confusing in the hands of a less-experienced author. However, in this book the author was clearly in control of the reins the whole time, ensuring the seamless transition from one chapter to the next.
She also touched on issues that most readers will find relevant and relatable and handled them with care. For example, there was an underlying theme of violence and abuse and she did an excellent job of conveying the experience from the victim’s point of view. She effectively communicated the psychological impact of such a traumatic experience, the mindset it creates, and why it’s so difficult to escape an abuse situation. These are the kind of stories that shed light and raise awareness, especially in this day and age.
There were also solid female characters at the heart of this story. Sonia was aided by other women to solve the mystery of her nightmares, including a semi-retired cop who was not afraid to use every weapon in her arsenal to bring about justice. The backstories of each character, especially that of the main antagonist, could have been better developed to give readers further insight into their thoughts and feelings and their motivation for doing the things they did. However, the author did enough to ensure readers would be fully invested in the outcome of each individual character arc.
There were parts of the story that felt a bit rushed, especially in the beginning when the character was still trying to figure out what her dreams meant and why they were so vivid. The explanation could be considered slightly convenient and left the impression that the author just wanted to get on with the paranormal aspects of the plot. However, once Allison Maruska got going with the story, she made sure to gradually layer and escalate the tension around each plot point, making the inevitable conclusion even more effective and thrilling.
Fast-paced and exciting, this gripping page-turner will have readers on the edge of their seats, itching to know what comes next. In this book, nothing is what it seems, and the horrible truth could be staring the reader in the face all along and they won’t see it until the author chooses to reveal it in her assured and inimitable way. This impressive paranormal mystery is a welcome addition to the genre and to her readers’ collections.
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