Cover Image: A Multitude of Dreams

A Multitude of Dreams

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This is the second book of Mara Rutherford’s that I’ve read, after “The Poison Season.” If you enjoyed “The Poison Season,” or if you like gothic fantasy YA, you should love “A Multitude of Dreams.” It’ll be a perfect read for spooky season. It’s a vibe.

-Seraphina is a fiery character who has faced prejudice and entrapment. Nico is a blushing, stammering gravedigger. They’re a cute twosome, but they don’t meet until after the 40% mark.
-The writing seems young YA in its simplicity, but some of the violence is more upper YA.
-The cover is *chef’s kiss*. Perfection.

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Last year I read what I consider one of the best books I’ve ever read: The Poison Season by Mara Rutherford. It was so intimate, quiet in a way where you felt you walked every single step left by its protagonists. Where every scene breathed to life, every hurt caused pain, every joy giddily experienced, and every love come swooningly true. It was perfect. Needless to say: this book has high standards to reach.

And met each and every one.

This book cements me as a forever fan of Rutherford, who will devour every future work she publishes.

I loved it.

》Setting the Stage《

Typically I begin a review discussing protagonist(s), but here let me gush at the way the entire atmosphere of this book was brought to life in such a brilliant way.

There’s such an intimate nature to the narrative, not in terms of romance, but in terms of immediacy, the feeling you’re right at the edge of your seat, how the goosebumps prickle your skin, the hairs that raise on your neck, your breath catching in your throat at every revelation. There is intrigue, suspicion, and danger creeping at every corner. At times it felt they were encroaching upon the reader, watching over your shoulder, lingering just behind a closed door…narrowing in on you. Shudders. And I LOVE it.

The story develops in a way that I think you can absolutely tell where it’s going but you need to see it with your own two eyes. You may guess right, but the experience still feels raw and fresh. The stakes are raised high and there’s no telling where a path may led— and who may or may not make it out alive. But you have to find out. You just do.

And that is exciting to read.

》Seraphina《

My beautiful, wistful Seraphina. We learn a significant spoiler concerning her towards the very beginning, but I want to keep that vague for you to experience it as it’s delivered.

For now, let me say the following.

I loved her. I felt I took every single step alongside her. I felt her curiosity, her hope, her desires, her longing, and her fears, but also her strengths. She always chooses to persevere, even if she isn’t fit for a task she wants to help. She wants to be active in decision-making, especially as that’s been ripped from her for so long. I also love how readily she protected her identity and heritage, never forgetting it. Not once.

She’s a gorgeous lead and I’d be so happy to follow her anywhere.


》Nico《

Nico! His arc in particular holds the most intrigue and eeriness. I felt as if I was piecing all the hints together just as he did, in real time. And feeling the horror emerge just as it did for him. I love how perceptive and astute a character he is— and also simply how good he is. So valiant, loyal, steadfast, and good. A protector of the innocent, a young man striving to secure a the best future for all. I was anticipating the moment he would meet Seraphina, and all I shall say: I was not disappointed!


》The Romance《

The closest nitpick I came to was in the romance. And this is the reason why, if asked, I’ll say I prefer The Poison Season. Because that book brought romance more to the front and center, but in this one, it’s more a supporting cast member on a stage set for bigger things.

The romance takes a back seat to everything else. It’s absolutely there. But it’s so very gently and slowly made, there’s promise and hope for it, but it’s not the main focus. Connection is the main focus, not romance. However, I can’t detract from my rating because, although I am a romance reader above all, I think it was a wise choice not to center it in this book.

This book was about about personal journeys into self, identity, and power. Romance is a beautiful added touch, but it’s not one that needed to take focus away from the main event.

I can’t find fault in this decision, but my silly little lovey dovey heart would have welcomed more because I absolutely adored what we did get!


》The Truth in One’s Name《

There’s an eerie feeling that continually develops as the story unrolls, a feeling you’re being closed in at every corner, and it brought so much excitement to the page! But there’s also this quiet, intimate feel of the power in learning one’s self, in knowing who you are and holding on so tight to your core. To who you are, to yourself and to others. It’s about individual power into self, the empowerment in connections, and the light caress of love that helps us face every potential future ahead.

What a journey this one was!

Thank you to NetGalley and Mara Rutherford’s Street Team for providing me an arc in exchange for an honest review!

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A Multitude of Dreams was a good read for me in the terms of: diverse representation, it was refreshing to read a fantasy with Jewish representation, strong female lead character, and overall some great gothic imagery.

I personally found the first half a little slow to get through, the premise of the story kept me curious to see the end, and with a modern fantasy plague retelling… I found this standalone an overall 3/5 ⭐️

The storyline was lacking plot twists for me, and I found the characters to be a bit one dimensional. If I was eating this book 10 years ago as a young adult this may have been a 4 for me! But my taste is a bit subjectively different these days. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a fantasy standalone with minimal romance, anyone who loves YA fantasy fiction, or to fans of modern works similar to Edgar Allan Poe.

I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in return for an honest and willing review. Thank you so much to the publishers, Maria, and Netgalley, for the opportunity to review the advanced copy of this book.

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’ve been dying to dive into Mara Rutherford’s novels and when I saw Multitude of Dreams the cover instantly drew me in. I quickly fell in love with our two protagonists and the spin on an Edgar Allan Poe story. This book was perfectly eerie and gave off major wednesday vibes. I’m not sure what to rate this because it honestly depends if it’s a standalone or not. If it’s a standalone thennn I’m slightly let down because it felt like there was something missing I was left wanting more… sooooo if it’s a series and I know there will be more thennn that makes me like it more haha

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This personally isn’t my thing. It was basically a locked up kingdom from a plague that you either are immune or you are not. There are zombies in it called reborns. It wasn’t fast pace enough for me
And I felt like I was getting bored with the amount of unneeded context. It may be your thing but not mine!

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A Multitude of Dreams is a retelling of Poe's The Masque of the Red Death. Told through dual POV's, you follow Princess Imogene and Nico. Princess Imogene has been locked away during the plague, and Nico who lost everything during the plague finds himself working for Lord Crane. While the plague is over there is a new terror that is taking over the land.

Princess Imogene is not who she seems, she has a secret that she has to keep about her identity, she is also desperate to escape the castle that she has been locked in during the plague. Meanwhile Nico finds out a disturbing truth about his employer Lord Crane and is desperate to warn the residents of the castle that Lord Crane intends to target. When Nico and Princess Imogene meet truths are revealed about the plague and its aftermath as well as their true identities.

This started off strong with some slow-moving parts in the middle and a quick, action-packed ending. Overall, an interesting, creepy read with a little romance thrown in.

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I really liked this book. The plot was very fun and interesting. The characters were good and well written. Overall I really enjoyed it!
Thank you NetGalley for the ARC!

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Poe retelling with a plague and a masquerade? YES PLEASE.

This book was slow starting, but once it sucks you in-you're in. Rutherford did a great job creating a spooky world, with fascinating characters. This gothic setting takes you on a journey through a duel POV with Nico and Princess Imogen/Seraphina leading the way through the aftermath of a plague. As rations start to disappear and the years-long charade of being kept safe in a castle starts to fall apart, Princess Imogen starts to make a plan to get out of the castle.
Meanwhile, Nico Mott has been working for Lord Crane, who may not seem like the generous man he appears to be, and once Nico figures it out, he has to warn everyone in the castle. But how does he get there knowing what 'things' lie in wait...
This story was full of anticipation and was subtle with its dashes of spooky and eerie that definitely reflects Poe's works.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Inkyard Press for the eARC!

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A perfectly fine young adult fantasy

** Spoiler alert **

Mara Rutherford introduces /A Multitude of Dreams/ as follows:

<blockquote>Dear Reader,

/A Multitude of Dreams/ will be my fifth published novel, but it's a first for me in many ways. I wanted to play with the idea of an unconventional retelling -- in this case, Edgar Allen Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death" -- and to include Jewish representation, an important part of my identity. As it turned out, a podcast about the Black Death provide me with the perfect opportunity to explore both.

I'm a fan of many of Poe's works, but "The Masque of the Red Death" has always been my favorite. I love the imagery of the colored rooms, the idea of nobles dancing at a masquerade ball while the world around them rots, and the final twist that reminds us that no one escapes death, not even princes. All of these things led me to write about a princess and a gravedigger, neither of whom is who they appear to be, and the bizarre circumstances that bring them together. And because this is a gothic fantasy, there needed to be monsters, too.

While researching plagues -- before I knew that I'd be living through one! -- I also discovered how Jews were historically blamed for many of them, and how they were slaughtered in pogroms as scapegoats. Seraphina, my reluctant princess, is misunderstood on so many levels, and her presence at Eldridge Hall forces the people around her to confront their differences, even as she confronts them herself. Most importantly, it provided the perfect opportunity to explore the ways in which we are all fundamentally, the same.

I hope you enjoy reading /A Multitude of Dreams/ as much as I loved writing it. Just be careful whom you trust, because nothing between these pages is as it seems.

All my best,

Mara*</blockquote>

So, there we have it -- a Poe retelling with a secretly Jewish princess shut up inside a castle while a deadly plague ravages the country around, and there are monsters, because, apparently, the gothic genre demands them (even though, aside from the plague itself, there are no monsters in Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death").

I have marked this review as a spoiler because I'm going to tell you that the monsters are vampires. (Why vampires, Ms Rutherford, why?) They are fairly conventional vampires, with some of the weird hang-ups that Bram Stoker bestowed on them (e.g. they can't enter a house without an invitation) but differing in others (while Ruthford's vampires prefer darkness, sunlight appears not to have lethal effects). In fact, the second half of /A Multitude of Dreams/ is a fairly conventional mortals vs vampires adventure. It's competently done, and I enjoyed it.

But I have one overall complaint. Rutherford issues a warning, which I took to be a promise, "nothing between these pages is as it seems"*. That promise was not kept. Everything in /A Multitude of dreams/ turned out to be exactly as it seemed to me.

I thank NetGalley and Inkyard Press for an advance reader copy of /A Multitude of Dreams/. This review expresses my honest opinions. Release date 26-Sep-2023.

*Quotes are from an advance reader copy, and may change upon publication. If so, this review will be corrected on the release date.

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A modern fairytale which kept me up at night reading!
Nothing is as it seems: the king's court, the princess herself, the prince, the plague, the plague survivors, the vampires... everyone has secrets to hide, and when they come out, their whole world is shattered and rebuilt, and rebuilt again! This story kept me guessing until the last page and I only wish we could spend more time in this world!

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LOVED!

This book is a beautifully written gothic retelling, with plagues and masquerades, multiple perspectives, princesses, and everything! The book begins with a plague, and Nico, who is immune. Throughout the book, you read about these amazing characters trying to survive this plague and come out on the other side!

i absolutely loved this read! thanks netgalley!

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I was really disappointed in this one. I loved the Crown of Coral and Pearl duology and The Poison Season, but this one lacked a lot of necessary context and worldbuilding in the same way that I thought Luminous did. For one thing, the premise was so cool. I really liked the idea of a court being walled up in a castle while a plague wreaks havoc on the outside world. But there was just very little substance when it came to either the plot or the characters.
The summary of this book refers to the female main character as Imogen, but the POV character from the very first page is referred to as Seraphina. It took me awhile to figure out that Seraphina was pretending to be Imogen. I also couldn't figure out the sisters: they abducted Seraphina from her family, one of them in particular treats her terribly, but they're all more or less getting along?
Nico doesn't meet Seraphina/Imogen until a third of the way through the book, even though it's obvious that the whole point is for him to break into the castle and fall in love with her. But both of them are contending with totally different love interests at the beginning of the book, which might have been fine were the book not on the shorter side. I didn't like what was going on from Nico's perspective. I honestly just didn't care, And I think the author could have leaned in more to the creepiness factor happening in the castle.

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I was graciously given an ARC copy of this book by Netgalley and Inkyard Press in exchange for an honest review.

I have read all of Mara Rutherford books so far and have loved them. This one did not disappoint! I absolutely adore this book and the characters. I love how the main character is strong willed and has her own mind. In many YA books it feels the protagonist is just strung along the plot. I feel like she was driving it! I cannot wait for this book to come out.

The world building was phenomenal! I wish more books had sprinkled in the world instead of info dumping. It was definitely more gothic fiction. It has a darker undertone but I have been loving this style lately. I need this book in my hands now.

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Thank you to Netgalley for the ARC!

Started off strong on terms of the idea, but it felt very repetitive and one note. Characters felt very one dimensional and repeated themselves and their motives continually. Fun, but not my favorite.

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this was a really good! I liked the characters, and they were super well-developed. the plot was super cool and fun to read, and the writing was also smooth and easy to understand
highly recommend

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that description really drew me in and I'm so glad I read this, it worked well overall. Mara Rutherford has a great writing style that it did everything that I needed. The characters were wonderfully written and I thought the horror elements worked well. I can't wait to read more from Mara Rutherford as I enjoyed this.

"The king had been escorted to his chambers by Giselle, who mumbled soft, soothing platitudes and cast furious glances at Seraphina. Later, she had taken Seraphina roughly by her arm and dragged her up to her tower. She’d glanced around the cramped space, her mouth twisted in a sneer. “Even this is too good for you,” she spat, leaving Seraphina crying on her narrow bed."

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I feel like this is one of those books that I'm going to have to sit and think about how I feel. But overall I really enjoyed it!! It was so different. It was darker and a little bit creepy. I saw it was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe and I can totally see it that. But it also had a very end of the world ,zombies vibe but add in some royalty plus false identities.

While the romance was definitely a very side small plot that took a while to get going I found myself still very hooked into the story. I was kind of surprised at how much I actually was enjoying it and found myself looking forward to reading more because it felt SO different. I think because it just felt so unique I didn't mind that it wasn't very romance heavy.

It has two POVs and I enjoyed both of them. The romance was cute but I felt like it was missing a little something but I was just still happy that it was there. I wish they had met sooner and that there had been a little bit more to it. But this was a very enjoyable book that was kind of creepy at times. If you're looking for something darker and a little different to read definitely give this a shot!!!

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A young princess naviagtes a deadly plague and a father lost to madness. Hoping to escape the locked castle, she is thrown off course by the arrival of a handsome stranger.

The writing was good and the locked castle and plague definitely provide for a gothic atmosphere. It all feels a bit claustrophobic as I'm sure the author intended. I don't think we needed as many characters though, the story would've benefitted from a focus on the romance or the plague alone.

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I was not entirely sure what I was getting into when I picked this book up, but the cover and description were enticing! It was not what I expected, but it did not disappoint. In the end, this book was probably a 3.5-star read for me!

I found the dual-character perspective very beneficial to the storyline, the effect would not have been the same without it. I can tell that Rutherford put a lot of time into making sure the characters' backstories aided the plot; the writing style really separated the two voices! The underlying themes of individuality versus collectivism explained the characters' interactions within the world, and, overall, I thought character-building was a strong aspect of the book!

The biggest flaw, for me, was the book was a bit slow-moving and lacking in world-building. Parts of it were a cyclical pattern that did not seem to benefit the plot in any way, while other parts seemed to throw you into the middle of a world you had little to no information about. It could be because I do not have the Poe background information, but I did struggle to see the full picture sometimes!

Overall, I am glad I read this book and was able to experience aspects of Judaism in the fantasy genre, as it is something with nowhere near enough representation. I loved following along with the characters and experiencing a darker fantasy. Rutherford has a beautiful and engaging writing style!

Thank you to Netgalley and Inkyard Press for an eARC in exchange for an honest review!

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A gothic Poe retelling with a plague and a masquerade - I loved literally everything about this book!

Told through dual POV, the reader experiences the aftermath of a bloody plague in two distinctly different ways - through Princess Imogen whose father locked all the royalty and nobility away in Eldridge Hall to quarantine them from the illness, leaving the rest of the country to suffer - and through Nico, a gentleman turned servant who survived the plague due to his rare immunity and thanks to Lord Crane, a man who takes him in after his family perishes. Imogen’s and Nico’s stories align when Nico is sent on a quest to find survivors at Eldridge Hall. Together they learn surviving the plague was just the first challenge.

This book was beautifully written and I was immediately pulled into the world of Goslind. Both Imogen and Nico are extremely realistic and relatable characters and I enjoyed their POVs equally. I also really liked the ways in which the author incorporated her Jewish heritage - showing how they were both blamed for and disproportionately affected by the plague.

This story kept me on the edge of my seat - it’s subtly eery and full of suspense. Everyone’s got something to hide at Eldridge Hall. Mara Rutherford is an auto-buy author for me and this novel only further proves her versatility as a writer.

Thank you to NetGalley and Inkyard Press for the e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

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