NOTE: Review copy supplied by One Million Words
Title: If Sin Dwells Deep (The Soul Sleep Cycle Book 2)
Author: David Michael Williams
Publisher: One Million Words
Publication Date: September 27, 2018
Genre: Fantasy / Sci-Fi / Hybrid Genre
When I reviewed the first part of David Michael Williams’ Soul Sleep Cycle, If Souls Can Sleep, I was enamored with the frenetic mix of fantasy, Norse mythology and sci-fi. So, when I was offered the chance to read the second book in the trilogy, If Sin Dwells Deep, I leapt at the opportunity. Now that I’ve finished it, I’m happy to say that I wasn’t disappointed.
Much as with If Souls Can Sleep, the book can be read as a standalone, though I do feel that you’ll get more out of it if you have read the first book. The reason for this is that the book isn’t a sequel, but a story that runs concurrent with those events, complete with little dips into that particular tale. As such, you’ll get to see snippets of key moments referenced that, while they’re purpose is clear, will give you an extra little smile if you’re already aware of them.
One of the things that really impressed me here is that David has succeeded in creating something that, while clearly part of the same universe, is remarkably different to the original book. This is perhaps most prominent in our lead, Allison Greene. Allison is a not the combustible character that Vincent was, and is certainly in a very different situation than him, even when their stories slightly overlap. She is, by her own admission, quite shy. If anything, I’d describe her as awkward, but in an endearing way. Meanwhile, her work in the dreamscape allows her some escapism as she takes on the form of Syn. This is a more confident version of Allison that – while clearly a mask for her to hide behind – is really a great tool for her to start branching out in her life and grow as a person. Regardless of which persona she’s using though, Allison remains good humored throughout, and never veers towards being unlikable.
Meanwhile, our main villain this time is ‘The Wolf’. With Allison being more a straight up good guy than Vincent was, it makes sense that the bad guy here is also more clear cut. And believe me, The Wolf is vile. He is the perpetrator of brutal murders, assault, and even throws out some slurs through his various rampages. He’s a good foil for Allison in that respect, and leaves you feeling genuine concern for her. That is particularly important when she’s portraying Syn, as it shows that she’s not as invulnerable as Allison would like people to believe.
The book is still as twisty as If Souls Can Sleep, though differently so. There’s no unexpected reality jumping, but rather a more ordered run of events. That doesn’t mean that it becomes mundane; for one, I would say that the action scenes are far better here than in their predecessor (and the action there was certainly enjoyable). Where the book really shines though is in how much it fleshes out the concept of what being a dream drifter is. We spend a great deal of time – organically within the tale – learning about the drifters and their responsibilities. The way they train is also really well thought it, with a mock battle playing out like a modernized version of the classic battle of wits from Neil Gaiman’s classic comic issue, Sandman #4. Even the things that are only touched upon are cool enough to not require long explanations but rather just add to the overall scope of the world too. For example, the idea that dream drifters experience things in real time as though they were awake, yet nobody had yet managed to make a clock in the dream world show the correct time was a nice little touch. The same can be said for the Inception-esque talk of using deep drifting to steal money.
The book reaches a satisfying conclusion that gives some closure to Allison’s arc while still hinting at more to come. In particular, the final moments with the Lady of Peace gives away how much more there is to explore in the world of the Soul Sleep Cycle. Honestly, this just makes me more excited for the eventual final book in the trilogy. Oh, and let’s not forget that stunning cover art!
In all, as much as I loved If Souls Can Sleep, I do feel that If Sin Dwells Deep is slightly better. It is in some ways an easier read, yet it loses none of the mystique of the first book. For achieving that balance, I have no hesitation in giving it the full 5 out of 5.