Review: The Dream Beings by Aaron J. French


About The Dream Beings

FOR FANS OF LOVECRAFTIAN FICTION AND DARK THRILLERS Born with a mysterious gift he never wanted... a gift that could mean his death.

When Jack Evens's name appears in blood at the scene of a grotesque ritualistic murder, the private investigator is drawn into a conflict that extends beyond reality, into the realm of dreams...and nightmares.

A serial killer is after him, but this is no ordinary psychopath. This killer is controlled by mysterious creatures from another realm. If he hopes to survive, Jack must finally come to terms with his psychic ability, a gift that has haunted him since he was a child.

At stake are the women the killer has targeted, Jack's own life, and something much more...something of cosmic proportions.

About the Author

Aaron J. French is a book editor for JournalStone Publishing and the Editor-in-Chief for Dark Discoveries magazine. He has edited several anthologies, including Songs of the Satyrs, Monk Punk & Shadow of the Unknown Omnibus, and The Gods of H.P. Lovecraft (Winter 2015) from JournalStone Publishing, which includes new Mythos work from the biggest names in horror fiction, including Adam Nevill, Laird Barron, Bentley Little, Christopher Golden, Jonathan Maberry, Joe Lansdale, and Seanan McGuire.

2014 saw the publication of The Chapman Books, a supernatural thriller collection from Uncanny Books featuring Aaron's novella "The Stain." His single-author collection, Aberrations of Reality, was published by Crowded Quarantine Publications and it is the first book to collect Aaron's fiction focusing on the occult, metaphysics, and the weird. His zombie collection Up From Soil Fresh was published by Hazardous Press in 2013; also in 2013 "The Order," an occult thriller novella about a Lovecraftian secret society, was published in the Dreaming in Darkness collection. Look for Aaron's brand new hard-boiled Lovecraftian novella "The Dream Beings" forthcoming from Samhain Publishing in January of 2016.

My Thoughts

Aaron J. French is a name that crossed my radar thanks to his involvement as editor of the recently released anthology, The Gods of H.P. Lovecraft. When I got word of his solo release through Samhain's horror division, and gave the synopsis a gander, I knew I had to read it.

The premise of The Dream Beings is simply outstanding - a psychic PI battling demons who are controlling a vicious killer that seems to have a sort of personal vendetta against him. Good stuff and worth a look, as far as I'm concerned.

Unfortunately, French's novella failed to live up to my expectations. While it started off strong with an appropriately grisly murder and decapitation sequence, I found myself losing interest fairly quickly afterward.

A few issues cropped up that really limited my enjoyment of this story.

First off was the dialogue. French uses dialogue to infodump, and in great quantities, while he's attempting to get the story into the swing of things. PI Jack Evens and his friend/Homicide detective Oscar engage in long-winded, unnatural, and stilted exchanges that carry on way too long and serve only to give reader's a sort of long oral history on Evens and his, and his family's history of, psychic powers.

My second issue had to do with the imbalanced tone that French adopts. Evens is a smartass, but the humor never really worked for me. This is an entirely subjective point, but when he tries to be funny if often derailed the story for me, especially when he drops an famous, much-cited quote from the movie Predator during the story's climax. There's also a lot going on here for a fairly short story, which only perpetuates this sense of imbalance. The psychic, horror, demonic, maybe ancient gods, cosmic riffs, and spiritual questioning never seem to gel into a unified narrative, as if French had a lot of ideas to tangentially connect but wasn't able to give them the proper depth and focus required due to a limited word count.

This may sound overly harsh and critical, but I'm going to issue a reminder here that I'm giving a two-star rating on the Goodreads metric, which is defined as "it was OK." And that's a fairly sufficient summation as any that I could give this book. I didn't hate it; I was able to read it and stuck with it in its entirety, thanks to its brevity. If there were a "Meh" rating, I may with that, but "OK" is about the closest I can get right now. Overall, I had a few too many problems with the execution and delivery, and found it missing more notes than it hit.

[Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

Buy The Dream Beings At Amazon

Michael Patrick Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novels Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and Emergence. His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the websites Graphic Novel Reporter and Audiobook Reviewer. In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.

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