Sylvia is a normal girl with huge, normal problems: her mother’s attempted suicide, trying to make friends in a rich prep school where she doesn’t belong, deciding whether or not to trust the cute boy with the dangerous eyes.
She thinks it’s more than she can handle, but finds even those limits tested when she learns that she is the long-awaited Phantasmer—a human who can change the fabric of Fairy simply by believing in a new story. Sylvia’s life is thrown off course as two warring Courts, the Seelie and Unseelie, attempt to co-opt her gift to attack the other Court. All while she’s trying not to get kicked out of school for fighting. And it doesn’t help matters that the fairies begging for her help are both attractive young men—with their own agendas.
Book Review Rating: 3.75/5 stars
Cover Review Rating: 2.5/5 stars
Are you restless waiting to see where this review goes?
Wren Handman, the author of IN RESTLESS DREAMS, reached out to me to see if I would review her lovely novel. One might internally scream with terror and excitement when I accepted with cautious glee. So let us buckle up and get ready for the first of reviews to dive into… the cover.
I always do my research or as much a possible given the time I have to scroll through the countless pages on the internet. It appears IN RESTLESS DREAMS was originally self-published with a different cover back in 2016. Now, don’t get y’all’s undies in a pinch. There’s nothing wrong with doing a re-release through another publisher, but with that said that also means there are two covers.
Now, I’m not going to deep dive both, but I do want to have both covers first for comparison.
So on the left, we have the original self-published cover and on the right is the Parliament House re-release cover. Strangely, both of these covers has the main character in a dress facing/walking away from the reader. Other than the change of the back and foreground each cover doesn’t really represent the story to the accuracy it deserves. For a quick critique on the first self-published cover, I’d say the font style of the title and author name need more direction to pin it to the contemporary fantasy genre. Also the placement of the wordage and more inclusion of internal concepts. That’s a quick rundown for the first cover, but the main focus, of course, is on the re-released cover.
So let’s dig on in shall we.
First and foremost, this is the second cover I’ve reviewed from Parliament House Publishing. I find it interesting the same issues I noted from a previous cover review are re-emerging on this cover.
The cover for an overall perspective is aesthetically pleasing. The cover taps into the title of the novel by creating an almost dream landscape watercolor collage. The font style is nice, a tad gothic which may imply the darker contemporary issues that are presented, however, from here I’m having issues.
There are two worlds and a travel portal the main character finds herself straddling IN RESTLESS DREAMS: the Concrete (human) and the Abstract Land (fairy realm) and then there’s a transitional realm of existence between the two called the Shadow.
From the watercolor collage, one would pin this as more of the transition between two worlds, the Shadows between both. That said, however, there isn’t any imagery to depict the transition between both realms. The main character straddles the shadowland between New York and the Abstract Land. Though the fairy realm is more wilderness, it also is vivid in coloring.
Where’s the vivid color? Where’s the city fading away in the shadow?
This little non-shadowed area may try to read as some kind of town, but upon closer inspection, it seems more landscape-ish. Even the coloring further from the watercolor blob of darkness isn’t vivid. It’s evergreen like any forest one might find in the Concrete (human) world. This then leads me to my second issue…
Why is there an abundance of wildlife on this cover?
One might think wildlife plays an important role in this novel. Aw, but sadly it doesn’t. Fae, other humans, play more roles than an owl or deer. There are two other male characters who play enormous roles, one, in particular, that should be on this cover rather than the wildlife.
Another issue I’m not harping on, but noting is the dress the main character wears. Out of the two dresses the main character wears within in novel, none look like this or put her into a time frame that seems to lean historical in context.
Last, but certainly not least, the tag line.
Now some may have totally missed the tagline, and I might have too if not for studying the cover with a keen eye.
Why is the tagline so small?
It’s tiny to the point of why was it incorporated at all. This aspect is a tad frustrating for me since it’s exact to an issue on a cover I’ve noted before. The whole point of a tagline is to draw interest from a prospective reader, and this cannot be done if the reader overlooks it.
If I compare the cover to the first self-published cover, than yes this cover is more polished. If I compare the cover to the story within IN RESTLESS DREAMS to the cover used for the re-release, I’d have to say it didn’t do it justice. I wish the main character and another darker male sub-character were featured more so, than the collage of watercolor images layered into each other. This may be a re-release of a self-published novel from 2016, but if I had to put both versions of the cover together, the subject matter minus some fore-ground and background are almost the same.
Why not give a whole new direction of cover art?
I find writing this cover review unfortunate for the author ’cause I had high hopes the cover art represented the storyline inside. Also, every author wants to cherish their cover and not have it taken apart as I just did. With this being the second cover from Parliament House I’ve reviewed for accuracy of conceptual design to the storyline, I’m a bit worried about the depth of designs this publishing house is producing for it’s authors.
Though I do rate this a 2.5/5 stars, the story and writing of IN RESTLESS DREAMS didn’t disappoint.
Cover Designer not listed from Parliament House.
“Sylvia is a normal girl with huge, normal problems…”
Wren Handman’s ridiculous fluidity with writing is the whipping on top of hot cocoa. It takes a gifted writer to pull me into a 2 a.m. reading bender without realizing the time, and Wren Handman is that kind of writer. Yes, even for the dark love reading girl, this YA Contemporary Fantasy tugged my Mother Cover Lover train into the story without question.
By the first page, I’m dropped into the plight of the character and the life struggles/swings don’t stop coming. In fact, the compound of the external issues and the internal voice of the main character, Sylvia, experiences were on point. Also, I found it interesting the way Wren separated/prepared a scene break for the introduction of fantasy elements. This at times seemed more like a T.V. show quality than what I’d expect in a typical fantasy novel.
Did this affect me while reading?
At first, it caught me off guard, but like all things you adjust and anticipate the change. While I loved Wren’s fluidity of writing, the deep characterization her characters pulled me into, I rated IN RESTLESS DREAMS 3.75/5 stars due to struggling with how long the fantasy elements took to intermingle with the main character in the storyline.
Which is where I emphasize the Contemporary classification of this novel. The first part of IN RESTLESS DREAMS is solely focused on Sylvia and the issues within her life. The breaks of Fantasy are kept separate and it takes time before the two collide. I really appreciate the time taken to develop Sylvia, and not make the plot feel rushed. But I would have to be honest that I did start to wonder when the crap was going to hit the fan and how the fantasy would finally intermingle. The length of time for the Fantasy to bleed into the Contemporary is what kept me from going in and rating 4 stars.
Once the Fantasy elements smashed into the Contemporary, which I must say was beautifully done, the story took off with great uses and twists of Fae lore. I argued with myself as I wrote this review to not rate at 4 stars, but its that one issue of the time frame for when the fantasy links in all the way I kept tripping on.
Even with this one factor, I think IN RESTLESS DREAMS was a great, clean, YA Contemporary Fantasy.
As a parent, I’d be more than delighted to have my young adult embark on this series without the worry about what they might encounter, and with the warning from the blurb there is an issue of suicide attempt. I fully expect the issue of when the Fantasy comes into play with the sequel to be non-existent.
I received an eARC of IN RESTLESS DREAMS by Wren Handman in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of the review.
Let’s be honest here. If it was great or sucked, I have no problem writing it out.