A Multitude Of Dreams by Mara Rutherford
Published: August 29th 2023 by Inkyard Press / Harper360
Rating: ★★★★ (4)
Genre: Young Adult // Fantasy, Gothic
Quick Thoughts: A haunting, rich tale with chills and dark secrets, with a nightmarish inspiration behind it all.
About The Book:
The bloody plague is finally past, but what fresh horror lies in its wake?
Princess Imogen of Goslind has lived a sheltered life for three years at the boarded-up castle—she and the rest of its inhabitants safe from the bloody mori roja plague that’s ravaged the kingdom. But Princess Imogen has a secret, and as King Stuart descends further into madness, it’s at great risk of being revealed. Rations dwindle each day, and unhappy murmurings threaten to crack the facade of the years-long charade being played within the castle walls.
Nico Mott once enjoyed a comfortable life of status, but the plague took everyone and everything from him. If not for the generosity of a nearby lord, Nico may not have survived the mori roja’s aftermath. But does owing Lord Crane his life mean he owes him his silence?
When Lord Crane sends Nico to search for more plague survivors in the castle, Nico collides with a princess who wants to break out. They will each have to navigate the web of lies they’ve woven if they’re going to survive the nightmares that lie ahead.
This time of year is perfect for gothic fantasies—well, it would be if we weren’t having the most summer-ish heatwave this week in the UK! I was hoping to read this under the cover of early autumn, but instead turned pages in front of a fan, trying to at least tell myself I was somewhere cosy…
Told in alternating POVs, we are introduced to Princess Imogen and Nico, two people going through chaos. For the last few years, Imogen has lived in a boarded-up castle, closed to anyone, to keep the inhabitants safe from the plague that has been coursing through the kingdom and killing many. Although, Imogen has a heavy secret, one that has weighed heavy on her for years—she’s not who everyone thinks she is. She is actually Seraphina, a Jewish girl impersonating the very dead Princess. And as King Stuart in the castle begins to grow more intolerable, the secret façade she began is growing thin, and her darkest kept skeletons are begging to be seen.
Enter Nico, a gravedigger that once had it all, until the plague stole the comfortable life he had and everyone he loved with it. When Lord Crane took him under his wing, it was the only thing that saved him from certain death. Like Seraphina, he too has a dark secret. But now that he essentially owes Crane, it makes things tricky to say no when he asks him to search for plague survivors in the castle. And when Nico collides with the masquerading Princess, it sets off a chain reaction that begs the question—will their secrets catch up to them or will the monstrous horror get to them first?
Overall, A Multitude Of Dreams was a haunting, rich tale with chills and dark secrets, and a nightmarish inspiration behind it all, being inspired by The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe (which I haven’t read, but have read other works of his), so it had that dark and edgy grit to it that made everything seem a calm sort of scary (if that makes sense.) I loved that Mara included Jewish representation in a main character role, going through strife that was more real than fictional, as antisemitism is rife in the world to this day—I can’t speak to how Jewish readers feel about the book as I’m not Jewish, so that discord sits with their community and I welcome their input/feelings on that particular element. I did get a sense that the themes of plague and introduction of the “monsters” didn’t quite fit together at first, but after I’d finished the book, I noticed how creative and sinister it really was. One thing I did, however, wish was that the romance wasn’t so rushed and we got more of them together. Altogether though, this was an epicly dark read and I’d recommend it to YA readers that love gothic-type novels.
About The Author
Mara Rutherford began her writing career as a journalist but quickly discovered she far preferred fantasy to reality. A triplet born on Leap Day, Mara has lived all over the world with her diplomat husband and two sons. She is the author of Crown of Coral and Pearl and its sequel, Kingdom of Sea and Stone; Luminous; The Poison Season, and A MULTITUDE OF DREAMS (September 26, 2023).