Monday, February 13, 2017

ARC Review: Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham

Title: Dreamland Burning
Written by: Jennifer Latham
Published: February 21, 2017 by Little, Brown Books
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Some bodies won’t stay buried. 
Some stories need to be told. 

When seventeen-year-old Rowan Chase finds a skeleton on her family's property, she has no idea that investigating the brutal century-old murder will lead to a summer of painful discoveries about the past... and the present. 

Nearly one hundred years earlier, a misguided violent encounter propels seventeen-year-old Will Tillman into a racial firestorm. In a country rife with violence against blacks and a hometown segregated by Jim Crow, Will must make hard choices on a painful journey towards self discovery and face his inner demons in order to do what's right the night Tulsa burns. 

Through intricately interwoven alternating perspectives, Jennifer Latham’s lightning-paced page-turner brings the Tulsa race riot of 1921 to blazing life and raises important question about the complex state of US race relations – both yesterday and today.

This book was fantastic, like seriously fantastic. I'm a huge fan of historical mysteries, books that have a fantastic mystery in the past that intertwined with something today and this book was just that. It was everything I had hoped it would be and more.

For one thing this is a book full of mystery. It is one of those mysteries that is solvable but you don't have all the clues until the end when it all comes together in a conclusion that is thrilling in it's revelations even though you knew it was coming. Plus along the way there were plenty o surprises that kept me guessing and reading. I'm sometimes hard on a mystery because they're often too complicated or not complicated enough and this one was the perfect balance. I really enjoyed it.

I also really enjoyed the historical setting. As a fan of historical fiction I enjoy a unique setting that takes you away to a different time and this book achieved that completely. Books set during the 1920's are a dime a dozen but they don't often deal with this subject matter. It explored a lesser known event at the time, and one that is complicated and interesting. I found the events of the Tulsa Race Riots incredibly interesting and the perfect backdrop for the mystery.

The setting of the book and the plot also lender it well to some really complex themes about history and humanity. At it's core this is a book about racism. It's about the way people are treated because of the color of their skin and the inherent injustice of that. It addresses the issue from a historical perspective but also from a modern standpoint. But unlike a lot of books with such heavy themes, it doesn't feel heavy. It doesn't come off preachy, instead it just makes you think and honestly those are the best kinds of books.

And the characters were just as good as everything else. This is one of those books that alternates perspective. In the present we have Rowan who is a rich African-American who still deals with a lot of prejudice. She becomes an amateur detective after a skeleton is found in her basement. Rowan was likable and realistic and I found a believable teen detective. But the characters in the past were even better. First we had out narrator, William. He is a white young man working in his father's shop. He doesn't have the prejudice a lot of other people do and I liked him a lot for his compassion and the way he sacrifices for the people he likes and the injustices he sees. Part of those injustices were at the hands of Joseph and Ruby, two African-Americans who are kind and complex. I really empathized with Joseph and Ruby's struggle and it made me really like William for how he treated them. Usually when books like these I prefer one perspective over the other and while I liked the present time, it was the past that was even more engaging.

In general, everything about the plot, the settings, and the characters of this book pulled me in and didn't let me go until the very end. I have been in a bit of a reading slump and this book may have cured me of that because I seriously couldn't stop reading it. I wanted to read it in one sitting and read three-quarters of it in one day and I cannot remember the last time I did that. But seriously, this book was so good!  It was a book full of mystery with a complex plot full of complex themes about humanity and great characters. I would absolutely recommend this book especially to fans of historical mysteries.

I give Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham 9.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/BorrowBypass: Buy. Dreamland Burning was an amazing read. I couldn't put it down. If you like historical mysteries then definitely check this out. If you are looking for a unique historical fantasy or something with interesting themes about history and humanity then read this. Basically, I loved it and you should read it.

Have you read Dreamland Burning? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!


  1. I just found out about this book yesterday. It sounds perfect for me. I’m glad you enjoyed it, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

    1. It is incredible. I'm glad you learned about it and I hope you enjoy it.

  2. I've not heard of this book before now but it sounds amazing! I'll have to pick it up as soon as I can. Great review!

    1. It is amazing! I'm glad I could introduce it to you. I hope you pick up a copy and enjoy it as much as I did.