Title: The Lost History of Dreams
Author: Kris Waldherr
Publisher: Touchstone Books
Publish Date: April 9, 2019 (Out now in paperback!)
What's the Story?:
From Goodreads.com: "All love stories are ghost stories in disguise.
famed Byronesque poet Hugh de Bonne is discovered dead of a heart
attack in his bath one morning, his cousin Robert Highstead, a historian
turned post-mortem photographer, is charged with a simple task:
transport Hugh's remains for burial in a chapel. This chapel, a stained
glass folly set on the moors of Shropshire, was built by de Bonne
sixteen years earlier to house the remains of his beloved wife and muse,
Ada. Since then, the chapel has been locked and abandoned, a pilgrimage
site for the rabid fans of de Bonne's last book, The Lost History of Dreams.
Ada's grief-stricken niece refuses to open the glass chapel for Robert
unless he agrees to her bargain: before he can lay Hugh to rest, Robert
must record Isabelle's story of Ada and Hugh's ill-fated marriage over
the course of five nights.
As the mystery of Ada and Hugh's
relationship unfolds, so does the secret behind Robert's own
marriage--including that of his fragile wife, Sida, who has not been the
same since the tragic accident three years ago, and the origins of his
own morbid profession that has him seeing things he shouldn't--things
from beyond the grave."
My Two Cents:
"The Lost History of Dreams" is a delicious concoction of a gothic historical fiction book. Hugh de Bonne is a beloved poet with a very passionate following. When he meets his untimely demise, it is up to his cousin, Robert, to take care of his burial. Robert knows little of Hugh's life as he and Hugh have been estranged for a long time so when he travels to Hugh's residence, he is surprised to meet Isabelle, Hugh's niece, who holds the secret to the real relationship between Hugh and his wife, Ada. Filled with love stories and ghost stories in equal measure, this book was a great gothic story!
This is a very character-driven novel. Robert, Isabelle, Hugh, and Ada all are very complicated characters. I really thought the author did a good job of pulling back the layers of each character and weaving the detail into the story line to move it along. When the book opens, there is a lot of mystery surrounding each character. The readers are not privy to what is driving each of the characters. I was particularly struck by the story that unfolds about Robert and Sida and how it drives him to his occupation: post-mortem photography. More about this later!
The detail in the book was good! I loved the dark, moody feel of the entire book. As I mentioned before, Robert is a post-mortem photographer. This occupation is so specific to the Victorian era and I loved reading about it (even if it creeped me out a little bit - hah!). I also loved reading about Hugh's poetry, distinctly of the Romantic time period. The world-building in this book was really great!
The pacing of the book was good. It did get a little hung up for me as we are introduced to Isabelle and trying to figure out what made her tick and what she had witnessed between Hugh and Ada. Eventually the pacing evened out for me and flowed rather nicely. This was an interesting book and I would love to see what Waldherr writes next!