If Dreams Can Die by David Michael Williams [Book Review – Dreampunk]August 7, 2019
Title: If Dreams Can Die
Author: David Michael Williams
Publisher: One Million Words LLC
Length: 295 pages
The grave could not contain her grief. Annette has devoted her life — and afterlife — to reclaiming her departed family, even if it means destroying the dreamscape. To stop her, old enemies must unite and declare war on the so-called Lady of Peace. But how do you defeat someone who is already dead? If Dreams Can Die depicts the final confrontation between a death-defying cult and the desperate dream drifters willing to risk everything to defend the collective unconscious.
If you read my review for the first two books in The Soul Sleep Cycle, If Souls Can Sleep and If Sin Dwells Deep, will know that I am a fan of David Michael William’s dreamscape universe. As such, I was eagerly awaiting the final book in the series, If Dreams Can Die. Now that I’ve read it, I am happy to say that I was not disappointed with how the story played out.
This is a logical progression from the second book in the series, revealing a lot more about what is actually going on with the dream drifters. There are plenty of familiar faces to get reacquainted with, and while most of these were most prevalent in the second book, we do get enough nods to the original title to satisfy fans of said title. Most importantly though, not a single character is wasted. Everyone has a role to play as we watch the conflict between the Norse mythology-themed dream drifters we know and love and the Lady of Peace led cult that is present in the dreamscape.
The thing that I really loved here is that David manages to achieve a very good balance with the Lady of Peace. There is never any doubt that she is the antagonist of the piece; her methods and overall goal fly against what we would view as good. At the same time though, we explore her motives fully and it really is hard not to sympathize with her. She’s suffered loss on so many levels and has gained a touch of bitterness as a result, making her feel very human, even as we hope for her to lose.
Milton and William’s previous romance is touched on a little again, but never really becomes the focus of the narrative. There is clearly still a lot of love there between the two men, but it doesn’t need to be the driving force of the narrative. The same can be said for every couple in the book, whether it be Hannah and Kay, or Allison and Eben. The romantic couple have an air of sweetness to them, but that side of things is a small facet of their overall characters. I liked that.
The same interesting concepts are present, and we start to deal with the afterlife in more detail here, experienced via the dreaming mind. David had created such a vividly imagined world here, that it’s a pleasure to delve into these ideas and learn about how important the dreamscape is. Everything is executed with flair too, with the action scenes, in particular, being beautifully over the top affairs.
In terms of warnings, the only things worth considering are that the book is not without tragedy. The Lady of Peace’s backstory is heartbreaking, as is the life being lived by newcomer Zhou Na. The book deals with death, suffering, and suicide. If these are hard subjects for you to read, then be aware that they are present, but not is so much detail that it’s overwhelming. It’s also worth noting that while the ending ties up the key plot points, some things are left hanging, such as the main goal of the Lady of peace’s right-hand man, Levi. So, expect a satisfying conclusion, but with some things left open.
Overall, my only regret with this book is that it took me so long to get to it. The Soul Sleep Cycle has been a wild ride from start to finish, and with If Dreams Can Die, David brings things to a wonderful conclusion. Combining compelling characters, thought-provoking ideas, and an easily read style of writing, this was as good an ending as I could hope for. This gets a 5 out of 5 from me.