I received an audio copy of this book from the publisher, Blackstone Publishing, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
This time of year, all I want to do is cozy up with a book that’s going to suck me in and keep me distracted from the cold. And there’s nothing cozier in my opinion than a literary mystery. Any time a book or an author takes centerstage in a plot, I’m excited. That excitement often leaves me disappointed, as I tend to expect too much of these books for some reason. But sometimes I get my hands on a book that delivers. Escaping Dreamland is one such book. This is the first Charlie Lovett novel I’ve read, but it certainly won’t be my last.
I loved the dual timeline here. In 2010, we are slowly learning the story of an author, and what a lost children’s adventure series from the 1900s meant to him, his father, and his grandfather. In the early 1900s, we meet the three authors behind this series and see how their lives became intertwined. While the 2010 timeline was plenty interesting, and is where the mystery element of the novel came in, the historical portions of the book were what kept drawing me back to the story.
The historical half of Escaping Dreamland was transportive and believable and captivating. The level of legwork and research that goes into a story like this is astounding, and it was evident that Lovett cut no corners in this regard. From what I gather, this degree of meticulous research is present in every single one of his novels, which is both respectable and very exciting. I loved learning about the publishing world of the early 1900s, especially as it dealt with children’s fiction. Learning more about how these famous series came to be was fascinating, though I must confess that the fictional series at the center of Lovett’s novel sound much more multifaceted and unique than Nancy Drew or The Hardy Boys.
While Escaping Dreamland was very interesting, I can’t say it was exactly enthralling. Even when important things were happening, I felt very little tension from the story. This is in large part why I’m not giving it a full five star rating. I think this is in large part due to Lovett’s style, which has a gentle quality to it, though I can’t say that for sure without having ever read any of his other work. While I was never on the edge of my seat, I was always deeply invested. And when you’re on the hunt for something comforting, that’s not necessarily a bad reading experience to have.
I very much enjoyed my time in Escaping Dreamland. There were certain sections that dragged, and others that felt rushed. But, for the most part, this was a fun, entertaining reading experience with the added bonus of introducing me to a new author whose backlog I’m excited to explore. If you’re an audio reader, Mike Lenz does a great job narrating the audiobook. And if you’re a fan of books about books, historical fiction, and mysteries, I think you’re going to love this story.
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