Dream-logic is a tricky thing. When handled poorly, dream sequences can spell death for a narrative. When they’re given structure and related linearly, too often dreams merely become a convenient way for an author to dump information on the reader. On the other hand, realistic dreams are usually a complete mess. Alice becomes Bob, and the picnic that started out in the countryside is suddenly in a shopping mall. There are unapologetic jumps in space and time, and the reader is left scrambling to make sense of a hopelessly tangled thread.
But the spirit of a dream, handled skillfully, is a beautiful thing…
Ekaterina Sedia’s The House of Discarded Dreams employs dream-logic in the best possible way. Yes, sometimes the narrative leaps, but if you’re willing to surrender yourself, you’ll be taken somewhere truly magical. Like a dream, not everything is tidily resolved. The narrative fades out as the sun rises, leaving the reader – like the dreamer – with a lingering sense that something important happened. While you were sleeping/reading, the world changed.
Undead crabs tow a house across a seemingly endless sea. Men without faces steal a universe that is also a young man’s hair. The protagonist’s ghostly grandmother makes coffee. It’s that kind of story. The language is rich, and the imagery stunning. The story is steeped in myth, lending it deeper meaning. The characters unfold slowly, revealing hidden dimensions.
This book is the kind of dream you want to hold onto. Stick around through the shifts that can at first seem abrupt. It’s worthwhile. The House of Discarded Dreams defies easy definition. Like the best of dreams, it is haunting, and it’s something to be savored.