Cover Image: A Multitude of Dreams

A Multitude of Dreams

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Member Reviews

A Multitude of Dreams is a "Masque of the Red Death" retelling with a lot of Jewish elements in it. The story follows Imogen née Seraphina as she's impersonating the Princess Imogen and trapped in a castle with her "family" to hide from the mori roja. Meanwhile, gravedigger Nico is fighting his own battles outside the castle.

"Masque of the Red Death" is one of my favorite short stories, so I had hopes. Big hopes. But my hopes were dashed. I hate to say this but beyond mori roja (red death, clever right?), this story had very little in common with Poe's famous tale. I found the characters to be flat. I didn't particularly care what happened to Imogen or Nico, and I know that I was supposed to. I just...didn't. The world building didn't really make much sense and there were vampires for some reason, silly ones at that.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this ARC. All in all, I wanted to like this book, but unfortunately, it wasn't for me.

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This review is in exchange for an e-arc of A Multitude of Dreams. Thank you so much to NetGalley for the opportunity to offer my honest views on this.

I really enjoyed A Multitude of Dreams! I enjoyed the main character, Seraphina, and found her likable and believable. Taken from her family during a plague sweeping the land, she is thrown into the role as the youngest, most beloved princess, with her uncanny resemblance to the deceased princess.

I also really enjoyed the multi POV’s this book offered. The side characters were fun and kept me engaged.

This is my first book by Rutherford and I am now very eager to visit her other works!

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This was a beautifully atmospheric gothic tale featuring a lush fantasy world and vampires. I find Mara’s writing to be perfect for any type of fantasy fan — those new to it or those wanting familiar tropes and writing styles.

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I have read Rutherford’s previous duology and really enjoyed it. I knew I had to check this one out because I love the world Rutherford creates. Well, this one was amazing and I really enjoyed the storyline of this book. It’s a retelling of The Masque of the Red Death, though I’m not familiar with the story, I still enjoyed it. The book was a bit hard to get into at first because I was a bit confused but once I understood the story I enjoyed it. I loved the world that Rutherford created for this world as it was simple and easy to understand.

I enjoyed the dual perspectives of each character and they were greatly written. Serephina was a great character but it took me a while to get to like her and know her. I loved her journey though and seeing her develop. Then there is Nico who was a good male lead but I didn’t really care for him. There were a good bit of side characters in this book but the story mainly focuses on the MCs and their goal. The romance wasn’t my favorite part of the book as I just couldn’t feel the chemistry between the couple.

The ending was good and overall this was a great story. I enjoyed the gothic adventure readers could go on and included Jewish representation. A lot goes on and if you want to go on an adventure, then I recommend picking up this book. I wouldn’t pick it up if you are looking for a YA fantasy romance as the romance was lacking but the gothic retelling was great.

*this arc was sent to me by the publisher to give an honest review in return*

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This was a really fun YA fantasy read. A retelling of an Edgar Allen Poe story?! Sign. Me. Up.

As a longtime fan of the gothic, I appreciated all the nods to the genre and other works within the genre. The tone and overall vibe of the story carried throughout, giving me just the right amount of creepy feel as I read along. There were some very heavy topics addressed, some swoony moments, the right amount of suspense. Just overall, lovely lovely read and wonderfully written.

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Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an e-arc of this title. This review contains my honest thoughts.

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It has been 3 years and things have drastically changed. Princess Imogen of Goslind has been living a sheltered life in a boarded-up castle to stay safe from the bloody mori roja plague that is running rampant in the kingdom. People are complaining and rations are dwindling. Imogen has a secret but does not want to reveal it as the kingdom is in an upheaval and the king is going mad. Then, there is Nico who once upon a time had a good, comfortable life but it was all ripped away from him when the plague took everything and everyone from his life. Imogen's and Nico's worlds collide when Lord Crane brings Nico to the castle to search for plague survivors.

I am a sucker for books that have royalty and kingdoms. Mara does a great job of setting up the dark feel of this book by tying a plague into the book to make a reason for why the people of the Kingdom are struggling and going into a state of upheaval. But the one thing I am struggling with is books that have plagues or pandemics in them. I do not know the reason on why I am struggling with books with this topic in them, but it just makes me struggle and I am not sure how to explain it...but, maybe bored?

Also, with the world building, I found it to be weak at times because we really only see a closed off castle and nothing really outside of this castle. This could be on purpose because we know that there is a plague going on out in the world and people are in discourse so being secluded from the world would change the characters idea of what it looks like out there.

For the first half of this book, it was slow going but around the halfway mark it started to pick up a bit to where I was starting to enjoy it.

Mara includes Jewish representation in this book which I thought it was very interesting in a fantasy world setting but I really liked the representation in this book. I think it worked out well.

When it came to the romance aspect of this book, I really liked that it did not take center stage of this book and that it did not overshadow the plot. The characters were done pretty well and introduced well.

I barely found out that this is a reimagining of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death." I have not read any of Poe's work (even though I grew up right outside of Baltimore City and he was always mentioned since he passed away in Baltimore. But I know Poe's work was always talked about being on the darker feeling side and Mara really encompasses that dark feeling with this book.

For me this was just an okay book, but I think this will make a great book to read in the fall time. If you are a fan of Poe, darker toned books/gothic stories, and royalty then you probably will enjoy this book. If you are not a fan of plagues, then I say you probably should skip this.

I plan on trying more of Mara's books down the road.

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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. 

-Gothic
-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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3.5/5

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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