So Wild a Dream
Two years ago, I declared Larissa Brown’s Beautiful Wreck was one of the Best Books of 2014. Last year, we raved about her novella, Tress. And I was so excited to read So Wild A Dream, set in the same world as Beautiful Wreck, that when I got the chance to review it, I was literally breathless. Maybe that anticipation was my downfall, though, because while I enjoyed the story, it didn’t completely blow me away.
We start out following Eðna Jonsdottir, time traveler from the future, as she follows Ginn, the heroine from the first book, into the past. Like Ginn, Eðna is dumped into the freezing ocean. Unlike Ginn, she finds her way out by herself, walking in the general direction of ‘away’ from the water. In the process, though, she stumbles across Brosa. For those who haven’t read Beautiful Wreck, we have already met the easy-going Brosa, brother to Heirik the chief. Brosa has never really recovered from the death of his wife and child and when Eðna finds him, he has literally been sleeping next to the unearthed bones of his late wife, waiting for death to find him. He mistakes Eðna for a spirit.
Brosa brings Eðna into the homestead, where she meets Ginn for the first time. Ginn, however, is not the woman Eðna remembers; Ginn has been re-shaped by her new life with power over everyone around her – and Eðna ends up as the unwilling long-term guest of the household. While she never stops wanting to go back to the future (hee!), she adapts well to the time, and is definitely attracted to (and attractive to) Brosa.
I absolutely adore Brosa and have since the first book. He is definitely a pretty happy guy, even if he is depressed and suicidal the deaths of his wife and child. When the story begins, he is a pretty dark personality, but as we get further along as he connects with Eðna, his true personality shines through, and it’s wonderful to see. And I particularly liked seeing his interactions with Eðna, leading her along quietly, getting her used to their world and to him. But the thing is, Brosa doesn’t know about her past.
Unlike Ginn, Eðna did not grow up in the city. Until she was 10-years-old, she lived with her parents and older sister on a farm on the other side of the glacier. It was a community (or at least a family) dedicated to living without technology and the advances of society, idealizing the past to an even greater extreme than people in the city (who already lived in a version of the past, dressing up according to their favorite time period, but still taking advantage of all the modern conveniences). As a result, Eðna witnessed her mother’s horrible death from something curable, then ran away with her sister to the city and turned her back on the way she was raised.
Also unlike Ginn, Eðna has no intention of staying in the past. Her goal was to go back in time, learn more, and then travel back to her own time again – after her childhood, she has no desire to relive life on the the farm. But Ginn is having none of it. She’s not the same character we met in the first story. I liked Ginn’s transformation, even if I didn’t really like her that much here (we aren’t supposed to, I think, since she basically acts as a minor antagonist). She’s grown into her power, and it was great to see.
I would like to take a moment to say that I really am not a fan of breaking a single story up into two pieces. According to the author’s website, So Wild a Dream is the first part of a duology, and while the threads of this first half of the book are pretty well woven in, the ending definitely feels like a cliffhanger. It wasn’t a huge problem for me in this particular scenario, but it was pretty noticeable.
The lovely, dreamy quality that was so compelling about Beautiful Wreck is absent here. Reading that book, I felt it was like floating in a pool of warm water, with the rest of the world just fading away. The writing was so beautifully lyrical I couldn’t help but love it. So Wild a Dream is a perfectly good, well-written story, but it doesn’t have the magic of the previous book. I still really enjoyed it and look forward to the second part of this tale, but I was hoping for more.