Timy reviews The Hungry Dreaming, Craig Schaefer‘s stand-alone Urban Fantasy novel, being set in the same Universe as his Ghosts of Gotham Saga series. You can read Timy’s review of the other novels in this universe, Ghosts of Gotham and A Time for Witches.
|Series: Ghosts of Gotham Saga #3||Genre: Urban Fantasy|
|Date of Publishing: June 1, 2021||Trigger Warnings: violence, deadnaming|
|Page count: 696||Publisher: Demimonde Books|
The discovery of lost letters between Alexander Hamilton and George Washington, describing historical events that never happened, sends shockwaves through the academic world. Meanwhile, a citywide surveillance program is coming to New York on a groundswell of dirty money and dead bodies. To hard-nosed Brooklyn reporter Nell Bluth, the two mysteries couldn’t be more different.
Then she finds the missing link. Seelie Rose, a transgender runaway and the eyewitness to a murder, has a priceless secret in her pocket and a ruthless assassin on her trail. Nell and her partner Tyler are drawn into a centuries-old vendetta, a conspiracy dating back to the Revolutionary War…and witchcraft.
A secret war is raging on the streets of New York. It’s a battle to control the narrative of history itself, and the winner rewrites the world. Three unlikely heroes will have to outrun and outwit every obstacle in their path; with time running out, they’re the last hope to save the past, the present, and the future. And if they can’t, they won’t live to see tomorrow.
“Spells, charms, initiations, and covens, these are all things that come in time, if they ever come at all. A witch is a woman in her full power, blessed with intuition, perseverance, and courage, capable of blazing a path through any hostile wilderness.”
Okay, so this is not quite perfect, BUT, I think the general meaning of the song, “sometimes goodbye is a second chance” does fit pretty much all of the characters. Plus, I love this Shinedown song.
For regular visitors of the Asylum won’t be much of a surprise if I say that I’m a Craig Schaefer fangirl. So when she went and sneak-dropped The Hungry Dreaming on me on June 1st, 2021 I had no choice but to go and buy it. And then rearrange everything I possibly might have planned, because you know, there are just things you can’t resist. I still need to catch up on her Daniel Faust series, but damn the woman, she won’t let me with new books coming out all the time. Which is totally not fair, but on the other hand… please don’t stop giving me your awesome books. And although it’s been almost a year since then, I just got around to writing my review – after rereading it on audiobook. I’m sorry for the long wait, but life just got in the way.
The Hungry Dreaming is set in the same world as Ghosts of Gotham and A Time for Witches, but can be read as a complete standalone. If you are already familiar with Schaefer’s mentioned books, then you’ll find some easter eggs which will add to the experience. In this book, we get to know Nell a journalist, and her partner at work Tyler who both have their own personal hell to go through, Seelie a 17-year-old runaway who knows exactly who she is, even if her family does not accept that, Dieter Rhime a ruthless killer and Leda Swan a mysterious woman with a vengeance that knows no boundaries. This sounds pretty simplistic, but believe me, when it comes to a Schaefer book nothing is ever simple.
Nell and Tyler chase the next big story as Nell’s biggest ambition is to win a Pulitzer Prize and finally be acknowledged by her father who pretty much abandoned her all her life. A tech company is setting up a new technology called the Loom in New York which would help solve crimes and save lives by using only public data. Nell has her doubts about that and the whole agreement with the city going through way too fast, and she is determined to bring down those behind the whole thing. Until her informants start to mysteriously disappear and/or die making it harder to get materials to prove her points. But Nell is not one to back down even when facing danger, public humiliation, and the possibility of losing the job she is practically married to. And then she has Tyler on her side, who has to fight with his own demons and who probably was my favorite character in this book. More than once I just wanted to give him a big hug. Plus I liked what Schaefer did with his arc, the way he dealt with his traumas.
Seelie is living from day to day, trying to stay under the radar and as far away from her father’s watching eyes as she can get. She lives on the kindness of her friends and occasional lovers. One day she becomes a murder witness and from that point on she also has to run for her life. Although curiosity gets the better of her and by circumstances she also starts to investigate why things happened and how it’s all connected to a newly found stack of letters written by Hamilton during the revolution. She is smart, she is resourceful, and she has plenty of fight in her when it comes to protecting herself and those she loves.
Schaefer’s books – the ones I read anyway – all have LGBTQ rep one way or another. In The Hungry Dreaming, there is a transgender character – I’m not going to say who, I’d like you to discover it for yourself – that I felt was very well portrayed and very alive. Mind you, I have no experience regarding this matter, but as it later turned out, Schaefer does. First-hand experience at that. She recently opened up in a blog post about her transition which I felt explained why I felt Seelie was so well handled as a character. Then again, my favorite thing about Schaefer’s books are her characters, so there is that too.
I mentioned in previous reviews of the novels set in this same universe, that I really enjoy how Schaefer plays with Greek mythology and that’s true for The Hungry Dreaming too. This time, we get an interesting interpretation of a character we only know in relation to a major god, and even then it’s not among the most well-known myths maybe. She is just as complex of a character as Nell, Tyler, or Seelie, maybe even more so. It was super interesting to watch her arc, and if nothing else, for that alone this novel is worth reading.
The only criticism I can come up with is that I probably could do without the revolution aspect of the plot. It added an interesting layer for sure, but I’m not 100% convinced the novel wouldn’t work without it.
The Hungry Dreaming is Schaefer’s longest book to date with nearly 700 pages, but don’t let that stop you from giving it a go. Although the start is a bit slow as it takes time to establish the characters and set all the plotlines into motion, once the ball starts rolling, you’ll never notice the length. It just sucks you right in and you’ll find yourself rooting for the characters and hoping they’ll get what they deserve.
Schaefer’s The Hungry Dreaming is a heady mix of mystery, witchery, mythology, amazingly complex characters, and a well-layered plot that will keep you turning the pages. I’ve never been particularly interested in New York, but after reading this, I very much would like to visit it, especially if I can run into some supernatural folks while I’m at it. I probably could go on about this novel, but I already rumbled a lot, so all I have left to say is: read it!