Cover Image: A Multitude of Dreams

A Multitude of Dreams

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A touch scarier then I thought it would be. This book was incredibly immersive! From the characters to the setting, I really thought I was in this world and struggling again everything the MC was. IT was such a spooky delight and a wonderful reread for the Halloween season.

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I was invited by @inkyardpress to review this ARC provided by @NetGalley

A Multitude of Dreams was marketed as a The Masque of Red Death inspired retelling with gothic elements. Unfortunately I found neither of those here. Unlike her previous work with The Poison Season which had a plot and direction, this felt like this story was never going to take off from the start. 

It was difficult to read and the writing seemed targeted for the younger end of YA which came across as slightly vapid with the castle fantasy setting. 

I wasn't sure what the actual point of the story was because it seemed like there were too many things going on. 

-The Masque of Red Death inspired
-Princesses and Kings and Lords in a castle
-Jewish girl in a fantasy setting playing an impostor
-Dual POV with very weak MCs that don't seem mature
-Plot twist: random insertions of *spoiler*

I feel like if it was meant to be an Edgar Allan Poe inspired novel, it should have gone completely gothic and stayed that way because I really didn't know what to judge this on. I get really bummed when I don't connect with a book and unfortunately this just wasn't one.

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Four princesses, the daughters of King Stuart, live secluded in a castle. The royals and nobles eat, sleep, and play locked within the walls while a great plague rages outside the walls – the mori roja. They do not know who is alive and who is dead outside. They do not where the food is coming from.
But one of the princesses holds a secret. Princess Imogen, the youngest and the king’s favorite, is not who she appears to be. In reality, she is Seraphina, a Jewish girl taking the place of royalty. Can she survive both her secret and the illness that is sweeping not just the kingdom but possibly the world?

CW: antisemitism, self-harm, blood, gore, description of injuries, mental illness, death, death of a child, death of a parent

As a great lover of vampire fiction (obviously) and a Jewish person, I may or may not have literally screamed when I found out I got my hands on an ARC. So, I hope you understand how genuinely gutted I am when I say this was one of my biggest disappointments of 2023.

I will say – I enjoyed the characters! Seraphina and Jocelyn’s relationship was sweet and interesting, and I was very engaged with interactions between the four princesses. The idea of a mad king/unwell patriarchal figure is something I also like in storytelling. It fits very well with the Gothic themes of a Poe-reimagining.

I’m one of those really annoying people who needs my historical fantasy settings to be well established in a particular time period or be in on it with the reader, purposefully obfuscating when the story takes place through introduction of various mediums that don’t fit a particular period (think Steampunk inventions). Unfortunately, I felt that rather than being in on the joke, the establishing was just under-developed due to lack of detail. The kingdoms featured (Pilmand and Goslind) are never placed in space, though it is stated clearly that the language in Goslind is English. No time period is established either through clothes, ruling structure, dances engaged in at the masquerade, or description of available firearms.

This is where my questions take on a Jewish bent. As a writer myself, and one who has been prominently featuring Jewish characters in my original work, I was disappointed with the overall world-building in the way that it incorporated Judaism.
Traditionally, vampires are particularly susceptible to Christian-related religious paraphernalia, such as crucifixes and holy water. While I by no means require mentions of that in my vampire fiction, I was confused at the complete lack of references to Christianity throughout the story. Why, you might ask, is this being included in a discussion of Jewish representation?
Well, because the story relies on tropes of persecution via Christianity that are glaringly lacking to my eyes. Why are Jews so persecuted in this country when there is no Christianity? The original antisemitism came from Christians believing Jews to have been the killers of Jesus, which was perpetuated when Jews were particularly difficult to convert. What is the “us” of this story to be set versus “them” (the Jews)?
Rutherford touches on blood libels in her author’s notes but does not touch specifically on the theme within the actual prose. (For context – the blood libels are a fear perpetuated frequently around Passover time – in the late spring, near Easter, or in periods of great civil unrest, that Jewish people were kidnapping Christian babies and pouring their blood into Matzah or other ceremonial breads. While this is a conspiracy theory that began in the Middle Ages, it is an ongoing problem. There have been searches and arrests of Jews into the 21st century on conspiracy of blood libel.) I think this was a misstep, as the antisemitism in the story, rather than hinging on an unknown reason of, “well, I guess they just hate the Jews!!” could instead have interrogated the very real problems of blood libel. Giselle’s antisemitism could not only have been directly disproven as false, it would have given Seraphina a chance to expand on Judaism within this setting.
I was also a bit confused as to why Yiddish is prominent within the community of Goslind, as it is a language that comes from an amalgam, usually Russian, Polish, German, and/or other Eastern European languages with Hebrew. Was the implication that this collection of Jews came from elsewhere? I don’t think that was it. Additionally, the word “pogrom” was used in reference to a great massacre of the Jewish population. While this word holds particular connotation – burnt houses, destroyed property, murders or arrests based on unfounded accusations, etc. – it is a Russian word. So why is it here? I think it would have been more powerful if the atrocities against the Jews were spelled out, not balanced on a word from another language that has cultural context outside of the setting of the novel.
Unfortunately, I don’t feel that any of the antisemitic characters were made to face their actions. They mostly just… died. Lol.

I was also a bit disappointed in the overall vampire lore in general. I am actually a bit of a fan of the “supernatural by illness/virus/bacteria/fungi” genre, but I especially like when stories play off tropes and themes within the traditional setting. There is not much context about why these vampires are different from all other vampires – or the same as others. (Ha – got a Passover joke in there for ya’!)

There was so much promise in the imagery that this novel sold me with, but I found the historical details and elements of cultural Judaism really held it back for me. I spent much more time questioning the setting than enjoying the story.

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This book was dragging me all over the place. It felt like the author couldn't decide which direction to go. There were so many different plots, and one of them seemed totally unnecessary, almost like it was there simply to fill pages.

I didn't connect to any characters, and quite frankly, they were all boring and one dimensional.

One of my biggest pet peeves in fantasy is using constructs from our world in a fantasy. For instance, using modern slang in a fictional, fantastical world is always distracting. In this book, it was using only one of our world's religions in a fantasy world without ever mentioning another religion. Using Judaism in this world was so distracting, it took me out of the world every time it was mentioned. I love that the author wasn't to represent the Jewish community in that way, but it felt lost and almost forced in this book.

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Loved it. Creepy, horrifying, dark, romantic, I was already on board and then there were VAMPIRES and my delight increased ten-fold. Perfect for spooky season.

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Thank you to Netgalley for allowing me to read and review.

I don't think can review this book without spoilers, so..
Warning, spoilers below.

A horrible plague called the Mori Roja has taken over the lands 4 years ago. It either kills you almost instantly or you are immune. There are also those who have not encountered the plague, known as immaculates. After 4 years, the plague seems to have gone away but in its place are wolves, thieves, and the reborn who drink the blood of immaculates.. can the immunes and immaculates survive in this post-plague world?

The mad king hoards food, boards up his family and shuts off the world.

We have two MCs in this story.
Seraphina, a Jewish girl who was taken into the castle to stand in place of the beautiful, and beloved (by the King) Princess Imogen, when the real princess passed. She plays a snooty princess well, but longs to escape back into the world with her best friend Jocelyn.

Nico, a man who was a son of noble blood, was found almost dead, when Crane came to save and employ him. He and his companions Colin and Branson work together to serve Crane Manor.

Our MCs come together when Seraphina wants to escape, and Nico realizes there's more to Crane and his weird obsession with immaculates..

Slow start to the story, and I was burning inside because for a small chunk Nico didn't know who Seraphina really was, but I do recommend, what a lovely book and I dove right into the world.

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ARC Review of: A Multitude of Dreams by Mara Rutherford. This is a YA Fantasy, Gothic, Horror, Mystery, with a dash of Romance, retelling of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death”.
Overall, I give this book 2/5 stars, which is solely based on the potential and vibes of the book. Unfortunately, this book just didn’t hit the mark on any other aspects for me.
The author is Jewish and wanted to represent that in her writing, which is amazing, but this book just wasn’t the place for it. It had themes of antisemitism, with mentions of segregation and gentiles, but didn’t even tie in any religious aspects. If you took away all of that, you wouldn’t be missing anything from the story.
The writing was confusing, jumbled, and had zero transitions. It would jump from one scene to another and made it impossible to picture it in my mind. The writing itself was very juvenile, even for a YA, but the author added more advanced words that a typical YA reader wouldn’t understand the significance of the use of those words.
The “plot twist” was not a twist at all, you could see it coming from a mile away. The result of the twist was also very bland and disappointing.
The romance lasted 2-3 days max and lacked any detail, build up, or emotion.
Overall, this book had exponential potential, but needed a lot more time, detail, and editing.

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I quite enjoyed this take on the idea of a vampire and its origin story. I enjoyed the mix of factual, historical elements with some modern views and information to create this realistic world where different historical aspects are represented within one time period. Some nice creep factor. Solid enough characters.

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Mara Rutherford brings us an inspired retelling of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death.” Set in Goslind, the story follows Seraphina and Nico as they deal with what their lives have become 4 years after a deadly plague called the mori roja. Will death really come for them all? Or will they be able to find a way to live after everything they’ve lost?

Solid book by Rutherford. She delivered a decently paced fantasy with little romance, that covers plagues, vampires and antisemitism. Yes, you read that correctly. Look, I love that Rutherford got to include the Jewish community, customs and some history in her book, it was just a little strange that it came from a fantasy book that doesn’t take place on Earth as we know it. The hatred of the Jewish wasn’t fully explained? I feel like there was a lot more lore that could have been explored.

I liked both main characters. Nico was adorable and I loved his constant blushing. Seraphina was also interesting to read from. It’s always fun to read from someone whose life is dedicated to maintaining a big secret. The romance was kind of rushed for me though. I felt like the ending result came out of nowhere.

Overall I enjoyed this novel. Perfect to read in the autumn and spooky season. I look forward to more of Mara Rutherford’s works as they’re all completely different from each other which is always so fun to read.

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I ended up not finishing this book. I have enjoyed this authors previous books, but I ended up not wanting to finish this one.

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This was my second Mara Rutherford book and for me, I think they just keep getting better. This had the feel of the spooky gothic inspiration taken from the Edgar Allan Poe that I was looking for. I think it was an interesting idea and the way the author developed it into a fantasy setting. I could've personally used more romance and development on that front and spent more time with the characters, but I think that's just a me preference. All in all, a good solid read.

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A perfect spooky ya book for spooky season! I’m a huge lover of gothic stories, especially when there’s a romantic element intertwined. I thought the atmospheric elements worked really well and that the story had a unique plot. I can see a lot of people enjoying this one

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I really adored The Poison Season, so I had high hopes for this book, but tbh it felt like they were written by different authors.

I personally didn't find myself caring for any of the characters in this one and on top of that the book had a lot going on all the time, but it couldn't hold my interest.

On the plus side: the book had vampires - and I love any book that includes vampires.

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VAMPIRES. I should just end my review with that because what more does one need buttttttt I will go into a bit more detail than that. A Multitude of Dreams is dark, gothic, atmospheric and it has VAMPIRES. This is a great book roll into spooky season with. This book also brings plagues and the drama. Set in a castle that gives off those perfect gothy vibes. I had fun with reading this and look forward to more Mara.

Thank you NetGalley and Inkyard Press for my ARC. These opinions are my own.

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Thank you to Netgalley and Inkyard Press for the eARC. This is an honest review.

"A Multitude of Dreams" by Mara Rutherford is a captivating blend of gothic horror, historical elements, and diverse representation, making it a must-read for fans of the genre. Set in a kingdom ravaged by the bloody mori roja plague. In response to the plague, the mad King boards up the castle and the nobles pretend that it's not happening just outside their doors. No one is supposed to mention the plague and anyone who leaves the castle is hanged for treason. The story revolves around Princess Imogen, who has been living a sheltered existence within the boarded-up castle, supposedly safe from the devastating disease. However, Imogen harbors a dangerous secret that could unravel everything as King Stuart's descent into madness continues, and the castle's resources grow scarcer by the day.

Nico Mott, once a man of nobility, lost everything to the plague. His survival owes much to the generosity of Lord Crane, but the question of whether this debt extends to his silence weighs heavily on his conscience. As Lord Crane sends Nico to search for more survivors within the castle, their paths collide with that of Princess Imogen, who yearns to break free. Together, they must navigate a web of lies they've spun and confront the nightmares lurking in the shadows.

What sets this novel apart is its masterful blending of elements. It pays homage to Edgar Allan Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death" while weaving in Jewish representation and elements of antisemitism. The result is a richly textured and deeply immersive reading experience that rings with historical context. The historical aspects add a layer of depth and authenticity to the story, making it all the more compelling and complex. Rutherford's storytelling is both chilling and enthralling, and her ability to create a sense of impending dread is truly remarkable.

In "A Multitude of Dreams," the author delivers a fascinating and diverse gothic horror novel that is sure to leave a lasting impression. This book is a captivating journey and it is a hauntingly beautiful read from start to finish. Perfect for a spooky season read.

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This book marks the second novel I’ve read from Rutherford that has centered around isolation. This one just happens to be because of the plague that swept through Goslin – the mori roja aka The Bloody Three. Rutherford was in part inspired by Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death, which I haven’t read but am planning on rectifying after reading this book. Even though it is a fantasy novel it doesn’t contain much “magic” and the authors inclusion of her Jewish heritage worked really well with this medieval setting.

I was not expecting the folklore turn at all until that nursery rhyme hit. Why must nursery rhymes always have chilling vibes? There was another plot twist regarding a fate within the royal family that I didn’t see coming either.

I greatly enjoyed Princess Imogen‘s character – all the aspects of it. Nico’s character was really good as well & I loved the consideration he had for Imogen – especially the consent. Their supporting characters of Jocelyn & Colin helped build them up as well – even Nico’s treatment of Bronson.

I would like to thank Inkyard Press & NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review yet another book by Mara Rutherford – all opinions are my own.

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This is a great fall time read- grab your cozy blankets and hot cocoa!

I loved the dark fairytale vibes, as well as the Poe influences felt throughout the novel. This would be a great read for people who like their fantasy with a little bit of darkness on the side.

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A Multitude of Dreams feels like a dark and twisted version of a fairytale. This gave me chills and made my skin crawl but I was constantly eager to continue. Beautifully written.

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If Disney decided to flirt with a darker way of telling stories, Multitude of Dreams would be the result.
All the ingredients of a fairy tale are in this recipe: The damsel in distress, the king, the princesses, and a villain that will make you have nightmares. Crane is seductive and evil. His being handsome just makes the character even more frightening. I can't tell much about the plot so as not to spoil the experience of unveiling what will come to pass slowly as the story unfolds.
I highly recommend it.

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This is a perfect read for the fall season, it has all the creepy gothic horror vibes that just scream fall. I have always found Edger Allen Poe’s work very dark and creepy and that is exactly what you get with this story is it is a retelling of The Masque Of Red Death.

We get dual POV’s experiencing the bloody aftermath of a plague through our 2 main characters and it kept me on the edge of seat with its eerie suspense.

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