Monday, 7 August 2017

The Dream Walker by Victoria Carless

The Dream Walker by Victoria Carless
Published June 27, 2017 by Hachette Australia
Source: ARC from the publisher
Rating: 4 stars

From the blurb: Sixteen-year-old Lucy Hart has been counting the days till she can get the hell out of Digger's Landing - a small Queensland fishing hamlet home to fifteen families, a posse of mongrel dogs, and Parkers Corner Store (no apostrophe and nowhere near a corner).
But just like the tides, Lucy's luck is on the turn, and as graduation nears her escape plans begin to falter; her best friend, Polly, is dropping out of school to help pay the bills, and Tom has been shipped off to boarding school, away from the flotsam of this place. And then there's Lucy's nightlife, which is filled with dreams that just don't seem to belong to her at all . . .
When the fish stop biting, like they did when her mum was still around, Lucy realises she isn't the only one with a secret.

The Dream Walker is a debut YA novel by Australian author, Victoria Carless. Set in the fictional town of Digger's Landing, we meet sixteen-year-old Lucy Hart. She and her father are still trying to get by after the death of her mother the previous year. Lucy promised her mother she'd finish high school, and she intends to do so before leaving the town for good. But Lucy is haunted each night by dreams and soon becomes the target of the town's malice.

Lucy cannot wait to move to the city. She and her best friend Polly have been dreaming about it for years, but they need to save up more money. Tom, another friend of theirs, was going to join them, but after a car accident last year, he was been sent to school in the city. Ever since the accident, Lucy's been having dreams and these dreams start to intensify and become more real, often involving the townspeople. Lucy has no one to talk to about this issue; her father is distant, and soon Polly leaves school for full time work. Lucy finds solace in Glen, one of the stray dogs that lives in town, and her time spent in nature. She internalises the pressure of needing to meet their fishing quota so her father won't lose his license. She helps him before school and on weekends, but nothing she does ever seems good enough.

Her desire to leave is so understandable. The town felt stuffy, menacing, and cage-like. There are only fifteen or so families, each of them adhering to unspoken rules: only greet another boat with the flick of a finger, don't ask each other about their fishing haul. They know everything about each other. But Lucy seems to be unaware of a secret the town is keeping.

The pacing was a touch slow for me in parts, and sometimes the events felt disjointed. I also felt like certain things were built up and alluded to (for example, the car accident) and then turned out not to be that significant. I was reading an ARC, so perhaps these things were changed before publication. The dream element was something I just had to accept as part of the story, not knowing if it was real or something Lucy was experiencing as a way of coping with her grief.

Ableist language: dumb, psycho, halfwit, crazy.
Other warnings: animal cruelty and death.

The Dream Walker is a beautifully written, atmospheric story capturing the teenage desire to grow up and move on, as well as the loneliness often associated with small town life. The novel tackles subjects like grief, poverty, bullying, death, in a sensitive and realistic way.

Thank you to Hachette for the ARC.

Cover design: Astred Hicks

I adore this beautiful cover, it suits the dreamy, water-themed story perfectly. I filmed my nail art process, you can view it here or on my YouTube channel.


  1. Nice review and nail art of the book.

  2. Great review as always, Mands! <3 I'm excited to read this one. Hopefully the slower pacing and disjointed storytelling agrees more with me? :S I was actually a bit worried about a slower book so that's why I opted to borrow from the library first.

    Cass @ Words on Paper


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