sweet dreams

...are made of weird

SFX - - Reviews -

re­leased 21 septem­ber 320 pages | pa­per­back/ebook

Au­thor tricia sul­li­van Pub­lisher Gollancz

Just be­cause you’re para­noid, it doesn’t mean your dreams aren’t out to get you.

It takes dreamhacker Char­lie Aaron a while to re­alise this, be­cause she’s not by na­ture a para­noid per­son. In­deed, she’s so trust­ing that she gets nick­named Pollyanna, and by her own ad­mis­sion she’s not very ob­ser­vant. The lat­ter she can’t help; af­ter tak­ing part in a mys­te­ri­ous (in other words, clearly dodgy) clin­i­cal trial, she’s de­vel­oped nar­colepsy and now falls asleep when stressed.

Un­for­tu­nately, given that Char­lie’s job sees her tan­gling with a shady cor­po­ra­tion, run­ning from a creepy dream in­vader, and get­ting in­ter­ro­gated in a ke­bab shop by the dream po­lice af­ter one of her clients sleep­walks to death, stress comes with the ter­ri­tory.

There’s al­ways been a touch of dream logic to Sul­li­van’s work, even if Maul – with its hi­lar­i­ously, hor­rif­i­cally vi­o­lent girl-gang shoot-out at a cos­met­ics counter – was the kind of dream you have af­ter eat­ing too much cheese. Her plots don’t so much twist as coil like capri­cious and pos­si­bly malev­o­lent springs that pe­ri­od­i­cally snap back in your face. Sweet Dreams is less off-the-wall, but its nar­colep­tic hero­ine is a great de­vice for mov­ing the ac­tion for­ward in dis­ori­en­tat­ing jumps, and the city she vis­its in dreams is glee­fully odd, if in a lower-key way than Sul­li­van read­ers might ex­pect.

In­stead, the book has a qui­eter strength: Char­lie’s jour­ney from pawn (of plots she can’t see, and clients she can’t af­ford to turn down) to player. Caught up in a mur­der mys­tery con­spir­acy thriller, she has to face down her fears, and take con­trol of both dreams and real life. Ends are left dan­gling, but Char­lie’s tale – which makes ex­cel­lent use of its near-fu­ture Lon­don set­ting to ramp up her so­cial and fi­nan­cial vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties – is al­ways a sat­is­fy­ing one. Nic Clarke

In her ac­knowl­edg­ments, Sul­li­van thanks Eury­th­mics’s An­nie Len­nox “for the songs that in­spired this story”.

Plots coil and snap back like springs

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.