The Dream Keeper’s Daughter
By Emily Colin
Author Website: https://www.emilycolin.com/
Eight years after the unsolved disappearance of her boyfriend Max Adair, archaeologist Isabel Griffin has managed to move on and rebuild her life with her young daughter, Finn, her last tie to Max. But after a series of strange incidents, Isabel begins to wonder if Max might still be alive somewhere, trying to communicate with her. She has no idea that the where isn’t the problem—it’s the when. Max has slipped through time and place, landing on his ancestral family plantation in 1816 Barbados, on the eve of a historic slave uprising. As Isabel searches for answers, Max must figure out not only how to survive the violence to come, but how to get back to his own century, the woman he loves, and the daughter he has only ever met in his dreams. (Goodreads)
The Dream Keeper’s Daughter should have been a lush, evocative novel full of mystery, history, a love story, and time travel. Unfortunately, it comes across as a tale suffering from an identity crisis.
I was drawn in from the very beginning. A woman claims to have gotten over the loss of her first love only to hear from him eight years later. Is Isabel going crazy? If not, what was Max trying to tell her in his garbled phone call? Sounds like women’s lit, right? There is mystery surrounding both the disappearance of Isabel’s mother fourteen years ago and then Max’s disappearance, too. Did he run away at the prospect of real adult responsibility? Did he meet with foul play? Did he slip through a “thin place” that connects the past with the present? Why, yes, it appears that he did slip through time and finds himself in Barbados on the eve of the 1816 slave rebellion. Great – historical fiction with some fantasy time travel thrown in. I’m game. But wait, we cannot forget about Isabel’s long suffering best friend Ryan who decides that now, years into their friendship, to express his true feelings. Romance and a bad one at that.
Truthfully, about two thirds of the book is fine. I think the historical scenes are the most compelling. Some of the passages are downright beautifully written. Unraveling all of the bits of past and present, not knowing what might happen next, is the best part of the book. Max’s struggle to figure out his place in the past and the possible ramifications of his actions to the present are thought provoking. But, then, there is the remainder of the book. I felt a little like I was looking at a car crash, wanting to look away but unable to. I kept thinking that everything was going to work out in the end…but it did not. I do not understand why Colin chose to take the characters down a certain path. This ending left me asking myself “what is the point of what I just read? Why did I bother?”
I never found myself invested in any of the characters. I really did not like Isabel much. I understand that she had to overcome great loss, and her experiences do make her an independent woman, but there is an aura of “oh, poor me” about her. At times the characters read like a case study in dysfunction. Max is palatable. The shining morsel of the tale is Isabel and Max’s seven year old daughter Finn, but even she has some strange things going on with her.
Unfortunately, I cannot recommend The Dream Keeper’s Daughter.