Cover Image: In My Dreams I Hold a Knife

In My Dreams I Hold a Knife

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

You know those lovely stories about the happy, golden days of college where you meet friends who will become your lifelong companions and who will be godparents to your children, where you have a meet-cute and discover your future spouse? This is not that story. This group of friends have some very dark secrets. Whether they are privileged rich kids or low-income scholarship students they all have something nasty to hide. When one of them ends up brutally murdered, apparently by someone in their inner circle, any of them could be responsible, but which one of their secrets led to her death? 

At some vicious pressure from the victim’s brother the reunion becomes the setting for all their secrets to be exposed and their lies to be unraveled.  I will admit that I didn’t like most of the characters very much so witnessing their lives fall apart was a bit gratifying. It would be ghoulish to revel in their collective misery but there is something about watching the privileged and entitled eat each other alive that is so satisfying. If people didn’t find it entertaining there wouldn’t be nearly as much reality TV. Schadenfreude is a guilty pleasure, but it is truly a pleasure.

The fast pace and the constant reveals of mostly unpredictable secrets and twists kept me happily turning the pages. I am content with the super dramatic, over the top ending. It was worthy of a trashy TV show and that seems very apropos. I would expect no less! In the end I don’t feel proud about finding all these terrible people and terrible events enjoyable, but I am aware of my horribleness and I’m pretty sure I am not alone.

Thank you to HarperCollins Canada for providing an Electronic Advance Reader Copy via NetGalley for review.
Was this review helpful?
In My Dreams I Hold a Knife by Ashley Winstead was the perfect psychological thriller.

After the first page, I was drawn to Jessica Miller, our main character. As we get to know Jessica, through present day description and also flash backs, we piece together her life of perfectionism and her deep desire to be exceptional.

As we learn about her circle of friends from university, we discover they were a close knit bunch with some dark secrets. Very dark secrets. Heather was mysteriously killed a decade ago and the multitude of skeletons in the closets of this group makes everyone a suspect.

Ashley Winstead’s writing flowed easily, was engaging and captured my attention. The dual track point of views were smart and kept me on my toes. An added bonus- I didn’t guess the twists and turns.

This beauty is released tomorrow and I most definitely recommend it!

Thank you to Harper Collins Canada and NetGalley for the digital ARC.

4.5 stars
Was this review helpful?
Wow wow wow wow wow.
A good who-dun-it that left me guess to the end AND an added twist. What a group of characters. I really enjoyed the interview with the author at the end and she described how she creates the characters.
Was this review helpful?
A thriller version of Gossip Girl? 🔪 Can I get a HELL YES?! 👏🏽

A group of friends are reunited at their university 10 years after graduation. Their circle of friends is incomplete because one of them, Heather Shelby, was murdered during their senior year. And her killer was never caught.

Of course, every single member of this group has a secret. The chapters alternate between the present time and the past to build up the tension and slowly reveal every single person’s secret. And this eventually leads to the big reveal of who killed Heather and why.

OMG this book was DELICIOUSLY ADDICTIVE. I was incredibly invested in these characters even though I didn’t really like them. I could not stop turning the pages. I even sacrificed sleep for it 😱 The university setting was simultaneously nostalgic and dark, which breathed life into the story and the characters.

Also, I’m not gonna lie: I thrived on the gossip girl type of drama 😂 The drama, the cheating, the lies, they all gave me life 😂 There was a couple that I was obsessed with, despite the messiness of their relationship. The romance reader in me was rooting for them until the very end. I can’t really control the romance reader when she comes out tbh 😂 She feels the chemistry and she ships it. It’s as simple as that 😂

I can’t believe this is a DEBUT 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽 I will read anything this author writes. Can’t wait for her next release!!

P.S. What an ending!! 👏🏽
Was this review helpful?
Ten years after graduation, Jessica Miller has been invited back to her college in North Carolina for a reunion and she is obsessed with dazzling everyone with her beauty and success, especially an old boyfriend she dated all through college and his wife who was her rival in those days. And of course there's the mystery surrounding the unsolved murder of her friend Heather 10 years ago.

Unfortunately I was less than impressed by this novel. I see now that the blurb states, in part, "In My Dreams I Hold a Knife is an addictive, propulsive millennial thriller you won’t be able to put down" and this may explain part of the problem since I'm a long way from being a millennial. I also didn't attend university or college so again, I couldn't relate to this group or their experiences at college. Some of the scenes and dialogue from the past were pretty cringe-worthy in my opinion. There were some parts of this book that I liked but for every part I liked there were 3 or 4 parts I didn't like. There were so many revelations in the last couple hundred pages it was getting beyond ridiculous and I could hardly wait for it to be over. By the end I didn't really care who killed Heather. Such an engaging title for such a disappointing novel but I'm in the minority here so you should check out some of the glowing reviews for this book.

My thanks to HarperCollins Canada via Netgalley for providing an ARC of this novel. All opinions expressed are my own.

Publication Date: August 3, 2021
Was this review helpful?
Jessica is a perfectionist and all she has ever wanted is to make her dad proud. When she gets into Duquette College she quickly makes friends with people in her dorm. The seven friends become inseparable until one tragic night when their friend, Heather is found murdered. This night changes their life forever. One of their friends, Jack, also Heathers boyfriend is accused of the crime but eventually is found not guilty. 

Fast forward ten years and a lot has changed but the Duquette renuin is coming up and the seven are back. However, Heathers brother has different plans and intends to discover who killed his sister ten years ago. 

Well this one certainly lived up to the hype. This was a fantastic read by this debut author. The suspense and intertwining timelines made for a terrific read. There was some many twists and turns which had me guessing the whole time. I also loved the ending which had a completely unexpected turn that was perfect. I highly recommend this read to all thriller lovers.
Was this review helpful?
I absolutely devoured this book! College settings are one of my favourite storylines and this read was just so compelling and incredibly propulsive!

I relished in the dual timelines of the current day reunion and the college years of the East House Seven crew! I loved all the juicy and dark secrets that were continually being exposed and revealed and I throughly enjoyed learning about all the complex characters and their backgrounds.

This one will have you hooked immediately and leave you continually guessing until the very end!
Was this review helpful?
Winstead is an American academic and author and this is her first novel. The book is a psychological suspense and with a plot somewhat reminiscent of "The Girls Are All So Nice Here".  We meet Jessica who is super excited to be going back to her college for a ten year reunion.  She is successful and looks even better than she did back then and has plans to make the best of that fact.  In alternating chapters we flash back to her college days and meet her gang of friends.  One of the group was murdered back then and now someone is determined to find the guilty party and thus the reunion is not at all what Jessica was hoping for. This is a very entertaining read and a great recommendation for fans of the genre.  I really enjoyed it.
Was this review helpful?
We’ve all felt pressure to succeed, to do well, to reach our goals. Perhaps we want the perfect relationship, the dream job, to make a team, to win awards. What are you willing to do to achieve those goals? What are you willing to sacrifice? 

In My Dreams I Hold A Knife is a heart-racing, cerebral thriller that explores the dark side of wanting to impress, of wanting to be perfect. It follows six friends who are attending their university reunion. Ten years ago they were known as the East House Seven and were inseparable. But that was before one of them was brutally murdered. One of them was accused but never charged, and the case has gone unsolved. Little do they know, someone has brought them all together to coax out the real killer. 

The novel is told in dual timelines between the group’s time at university and their meet-up at the ten year reunion. While I found the very beginning a bit slow, it was necessary for character building and quickly picked up speed. Ashley Winstead really did a fabulous job of creating multi-layered characters with solid backstories. While none of the characters were overly likeable themselves, I loved the intricacies of all their relationships. Since I wasn’t rooting for any of them in particular, and they all had reasons to commit the murder, it made it very difficult to guess the killer. And that twist at the end- I did not see that coming! 

It was hard to believe this was Ashley Winstead’s debut novel. I can see a great career ahead of her, and can’t wait to read her future work. 

Many thanks for NetGalley and HarperCollins Canada for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
4.5 stars rounded up! 

For a debut thriller, this author deserves a round of applause! This book was super entertaining and was a fast page turner for me. It instantly transported me back to my university days and the freedoms and friendships established during those years.

While all of the characters are flawed and have unsavory characteristics, I ended up rooting for many of them. I found it interesting that this book examines how the secrets we keep can alter the secrets that others hide too.

I appreciated the dual timelines and the occasional change of POV to tease out little tidbits of information from the individual characters. I thought this was a great unravelling of the plot.

And if you want a twist to make you audibly gasp, this one will do it! I certainly did!!

Thank you to @netgalley and @harpercollinsca for the advance e-copy!
Was this review helpful?
Wow!! What a fantastic read that kept me on my toes the entire time! 

This is a murder mystery story surrounding 7 friends from college… the East House Seven. One of them was brutally stabbed to death and her boyfriend was accused, but now it’s 10 years later at their college reunion… their secrets get exposed and the truth about that night unravel bit by bit. You’ll be on the edge of your seat through the whole book, switching from past and present, and reading from different perspectives of the members of the infamous East House Seven. What really happened all those years ago and who really was the killer? 

I absolutely adored this story because of the wide cast of characters, the mystery, and the amount of deceit there was! Such a great thriller that really had me guessing up until the reveal! We do get an unreliable narrator here, which keeps you on your toes. But not only do we not trust the narrator, we also get to learn of all the secrets that each of them kept from each other in order to narrow it down.

I loved the college setting, it was the perfect place for all of this wild stuff to go down. Plus, I loved how the author gave us small tidbits of information here and there in order to unravel each secret. Having the POV switch from character to character and from past to present really kept me flipping pages and wanting to know more. I wasn’t bored or uninterested by any of the perspectives, which is something that happens to me sometimes with this style of writing. I’m glad this one did not disappoint! 

I’m going with 4 stars because I thought it was a solid thriller, not revolutionary but very entertaining! I was in love with the elite college vibes and countless secrets that the characters hid from each other. I just adored how the book took me right into the story and had me reeling to find out more!

Thank you to Harper Collins Canada for this eARC!
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to NetGalley, Ashley Winstead and HarperCollins Canada for the free e-book in exchange for an honest review.

I had heard a lot of rave reviews about this one, so I was concerned after reading the first few chapters that it wouldn't live up to all the hype. But luckily, my worries were unfounded and it gets much much more interesting the further you dive into this one. In the beginning, I was sure that I knew where this story was going, but it turns out to be much more complex than previously thought and I really really enjoyed all the mystery and action woven throughout this story. I definitely recommend.
Was this review helpful?
4.25 amazing stars to this amazing debut novel.

Six friends reunite at a college reunion and are forced to encounter the secrets of their past to solve the murder of one of their best friends. Twenty years ago, Heather was stabbed 17 times with a pair of scissors and her murder went unsolved. But someone at the reunion is determined to find out who kills Heather, no matter how harrowing the truth might seem. Told in dual timelines, this is a novel about the dark side of love, friendships, secrets, ambition and obsession. That is all I will say.

I love books with an academia setting and this reminded me a lot of All The Girls Are So Nice Here. This book is one of my most anticipated reads of 2021 and oh my word, it is so worth the hype. I cannot believe this is a debut novel. This book was nothing but sheer brilliance wrapped in a couple hundred pages. From its beautiful cover to the very last page. Winstead's writing is so captivating that all you can simply do is turn the pages. The storyline is one that isn't new, but the author puts their own stamp on it. 

The characters in this book were the craziest characters I have read about. They're messy, dark, devious, liars and so much more. But most of all, they're fun. I loved unravelling the mystery of Heather's murder along with secrets from every single one of them. They're all far from perfect, no matter how hard they try to be. What struck me most about this novel was how real the characters were. I found myself being able to relate to almost every single one of them on many different levels. This novel isn't just a wonderful thriller, it's one with characters that I can say that many people will be able to see a bit of themselves in. And also their character development? Absolutely brilliant.

The twists. The secrets. The lies. Oh what fun it was to discover everything. I think it was one of the best dual timelines I had read - from past to present and switching between the different characters. I could tell that there was a ton of planning that went behind this one. It was perfectly plotted, with plot twists dropping almost every chapter at the perfect time. And the final plot twist? Quite a shocker. 

Overall, this novel has easily made its way to my favourite reads of 2021. I think this is a title everyone needs to add to their tbr and I cannot wait for it to hit bookshelves in August and make the biggest splash everywhere! Congrats Ashley on an outstanding debut and I cannot wait to see what she comes up with next! 

Thank you NetGalley and HarperCollins Canada for providing me with an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.
Was this review helpful?
4.83 stars

Jessica, Jack, Heather, Caro, Mint, and Frankie were as close as possible during their four years at university. That bond was fractured when Heather was brutally murdered during their senior year, and her boyfriend, Jack, though never convicted, was the police's main suspect. 

Ten years later, with the murder still unsolved, the rest of the group reunites at the place where it all happened. Jessica is counting the days to be the center of attention at the 10-year reunion of Duquette University's class of 2009. Jessica's carefully planned appearance might be put in the backburner when it becomes evident that someone else has plans of their own - to reveal everyone's dark secrets all and finally solve Heather's murder.

 Holy ambiance! I loved how the tension crept up on you and then never left; every time a chapter ended, I just needed to keep going! Even though we have one main narrator, Jessica, Winstead used different POVs organically to better the plot. Her character work is what excited me the most. We have eight main characters, and each of them had their unique voice, distinguishable personalities, a great arc, not to mention clear motivation and consistent actions. Very early in the book, I felt like I knew them and could feel what it would be like to hang out with them. 

I thought the plot was tight, well-paced, delivered to near perfection! If anything, I wish that one particular relationship had never happened because I desperately wanted one of those character's arcs to end differently, but that is just me being invested in them. I do feel that they deserved more, though. Had that person been given a better arc, this would have been a 5 star read for me. 

A random thing that contributed to my enjoyment of the book was that there was a content warning for physical and sexual violence! I appreciate seeing this, these are significant triggers for many people, and it allows them to make an informed decision going into the book or prepare themselves for it! I know it can be considered a spoiler most times, but the care for the readers' wellbeing was deeply appreciated by yours truly.

Ashley Winstead managed to deliver what I love the most about two of my favourite authors. She wrote horrible people perfectly, like Lucy Foley, and evoked the most deliciously dark side of academia like Donna Tartt!

I feel that a lot of the book was true to real life, though my group of friends was way more likable than this one; I could relate to that experience of finding friends in an academic setting and walking around like the world belongs to you, because at that age you believe it does! The difference is that we were nice to other people. But being this close to others so different from you is an actual rite of passage into adulthood. 

As a non-American, I also appreciated learning about a different college experience, though I was confused at parts. Still, Winstead did an excellent job of situating the reader into specific traditions without being preachy. I do wish I had understood better the difference between a sorority/frat house and student residency. I thought once you're in a sorority, that is where you sleep!

Even though half her characters were nauseatingly unlikeable, including her main character, and the other half had evident character flaws, Winstead made me care for each of them (except for Courtney, that is)! I spent the whole book either hoping someone was the killer or wishing they weren't! I was deeply invested in Jessica's wellbeing, and that says a lot because she had some pretty mean and nasty moments!

Winstead's prose is wonderful. I cannot believe this was her first novel, the care with which she treated each character's arc, the way she nailed both the dark side of academia but also that wonderful feeling of knowing these are some of the best years of the rest of your life, the way she ended each chapter with a hook that made it impossible for you to put the book down and the tightness of the plot are superb. 

I cannot wait for her next novel!
Was this review helpful?
This dark academia book is everything I’ve been looking for since reading The Secret History. 

Six friends return to their university for their ten year college reunion. They used to be known as the East House Seven until one of them was brutally murdered. Before the murder, they were inseparable. Now they barely know each other. 

Jessica Miller has always been ambitious and she returns to Duquette University determined to amaze everyone with her success. She’s got the perfect job, perfect looks, perfect everything, and she’s sure everyone will be awed by her perfectness. She’s put her life back together since her best friend, Heather was murdered and Jack, one of the East House Seven was accused of murdering her. The cops couldn’t find enough evidence to prove he killed her, so charges were eventually dropped. 

But not everyone has moved on from the murder, someone has been compiling evidence long after the police have given up on the case. And they plan to force a confession from the killer and to reveal everyone’s secrets. 

This dark campus tale is told in dual timelines and is taut as a bowstring. It really delves deep into how far one would go to achieve everything they ever wanted. Ashley Winstead excellently shows the dark side of ambition, obsession and love. The characters were so well-developed, their heart’s desires and flaws were exceptionally told. 

I wanted to reread this book as soon as I finished. That feeling almost never happens these days. I could not put this book down and resented when I had to; this book is that good. And that ending! Wow! For a second I wasn’t sure if it made me love or hate the book. I decided I loved it. Obviously.

I think I saw that the author has another book coming out next year. I can’t wait to read that one. 

Thanks to Netgalley and HarperCollins Canada for the digital arc in exchange for my honest opinions.
Was this review helpful?
A fantastically addictive thriller focusing on a group of friends brought back together by a college reunion, “In My Dreams I Hold A Knife” is a well-paced page turner that is a must-have for readers in the summer of 2021.

Told with dual timelines, this twisty book takes a dark look at friendship, love, obsession and ambition.  Characters are engaging and the campus setting offers a true sense of nostalgia for those of us who carry our college or university days in the past.  

Some may find the first 20 or 30 pages a little slow but shortly after readers will be propelled into a story that grabs their attention and does not let go until the very last page.

Thank you to NetGalley and HarperCollins for the advanced readers copy.
Was this review helpful?
Six friends attend their ten year college reunion, and are made to confront the truth behind a tragedy they'd all tried to leave behind. In college, a seventh friend, Heather, was murdered, and her boyfriend Jack was the prime suspect and immediately ostracized by his friends. But Jack was never convicted, and at the reunion, Heather's younger brother Eric confronts the group, proclaims Jack's innocence, and announces that the real murderer is among them.

In My Dreams I Hold A Knife is a good campus thriller. The story switches in time between the present-day reunion and the characters' college years, and as the events leading up to Heather's murder unfold, many secrets -- and possible motives -- are also revealed. I didn't guess the murderer's identity, nor did I guess their motivation, and the ending has the kind of ambiguous happiness that leaves the reader wondering if justice has been achieved.


I think I would have been a lot more captivated by this novel if I hadn't read a similar campus thriller earlier this year that I thought was much stronger. The Girls Are All So Nice Here goes full throttle in giving us an anti-hero protagonist -- Amb isn't just unlikeable, at times she's downright despicable, yet author Laurie Elizabeth Flynn manages to inject her with just enough humanity that you can't help but feel for her a bit. As a result, that book is probably one of the most disquieting campus thrillers I've ever read. I called it bleak in my review and recommended allocating some time for self-care after reading, and that was because the story tore into my gut, and left me feeling disquiet throughout.

Jessica, the protagonist of In My Dreams, pales in comparison. She's both unlikeable and sympathetic, but more in the mould of what you'd expect for this genre. She's not as wealthy as her classmates, which makes her insecure and resentful, and she wants to fulfill her father's dreams, which makes her ruthless in her ambition. She's a complex, well-written character, but not one that will stick in your mind months after you finish reading the book. (Ironically, her main insecurity is that she's often overlooked and forgotten, so maybe the author did her job too well?) It's mostly that she's exactly the type of protagonist that I expected, down to her having a quasi-love triangle with the golden boy and the bad boy. That's all fine, but it's also a bit of a disappointment after The Girls took me so much by surprise.

There was also something almost workmanlike with the reveals. The story is structured so that the set piece moment -- where all the suspects are in a room with the detective figure (in this case, Eric) -- happens about halfway through. Eric pretty much goes around the room, mentioning a clue, then pointing out that a particular suspect or the other is now revealed to have a motive. In classic mysteries, this set up works because it all happens within a few pages, so as the reader, you're treated to a dazzling array of sleights of hand before the detective reveals who the killer actually is.

But this book spaces it out over several chapters, with interludes from the perspectives of each suspect. This format works in that it gives each suspect their time in the spotlight, and their opportunity to explain their actions. But the sleight of hand dazzle is lost, and by the third or so suspect, it's already fairly obvious that the reveal is going to turn out to be a fairly minor one. That being said, the spacing out of reveals succeeds in showing us why each of the friends is somewhat complicit in the murder, even though not all of them are technically guilty of the crime.

I also like how the book delves into the lives of all these characters, and shows us what they're dealing with, beyond the trauma of the actual murder. There's an almost Rashomon-like feel to how each of the suspects gets to say their piece, and while the execution fell a bit flat for me, I like the broadness of perspective the story provides on the crime.

The ending, as I said, was unexpected, at least to me. I'm not sure how I feel about the way it ended, but in a way that this uncertainty is a positive. The author does give us a firm resolution and insight into all the secrets surrounding Heather's murder, but I don't know if I would say the ending is a happy one necessarily. I still feel that a character got away with murder, and I thought that was a nice, slightly uneasy, note to end on.

+

Thank you to Harper Collins Canada for an e-galley of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I loved this book! I couldn't put it down, reading into the wee hours of the morning until my eyes closed themselves and I dropped my Kindle on my head. 
This psychological thriller has everything you want from the genre, suspense, mystery, hints, and twists, juicy twists. Best of all, no plot holes, which I find often happens in books of this genre! 
Sometimes books with several lead characters can get confusing, but not this one. Eight main characters, all developed so well with unique personalities, I never had to pause to think about who was who. There's even dark and twisty romance, a little steam, and a little heartbreak.
This book is captivating, written so well with a well thought out plot, and is sure to be one of my favs of 2021!
Was this review helpful?
I'm a sucker for books about college and reunions so I had to check this one out. And I was not disappointed! The author takes us back and forth between past and present to create a tense story where any one of the six friends could have killed their friend, Heather. A twisty, compulsive read about friendship, vanity, secrets and lies. Really well done; I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. I look forward to reading more from Ashley Winstead!
Was this review helpful?
This psychological thriller definitely kept me guessing until the very end! Right from the start, the author did a great job creating this dark sense of suspicion and unease. The story was built upon layer after layer of secrets and hidden motivation -- and the slow reveal of the events leading up to Heather's murder was brilliantly done. While I enjoyed the complexity of this novel, Jessica truly was a difficult character to like and that did make it a little harder for me to get into the book. For whatever reason, this book just didn't connect with me, but I do still think it was very well done. I can see this being a popular read for others -- especially if you enjoy thrillers with complex character and multiple twists.
Was this review helpful?