So I discovered Anna Undreaming a couple of years ago, when I had the good fortune to interview the author, Thomas Welsh, for The Student Advertiser while I was writing for them, you can in fact check out that interview here if you are interested. Today however I am rectifying a mistake, I had fully intended to review his novel, especially since he was kind enough to provide an advanced copy for me to read but because I stopped writing for TSA the review fell to the wayside, however I rediscovered what I had already written of the review on an old hard drive and decided I would re-read the book, complete the review and then finally upload it as I had planned.
First let me give you some of the bare facts of the book, it was published by Owl Hollow Press on the 20th March 2018, by Thomas Welsh, a winner of the Elbow Room Fiction Prize who is currently based in Scotland. To find out more about him, and get the latest updates, you can follow Thomas on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or via his personal website. Anna Undreaming is the first book in the Metiks Fade Trilogy, the second book has recently been released and you can check that out right here on Amazon.
Now for the review, firstly, it’s fresh and deeply engaging story, which is an excellent addition to the urban fantasy genre, blending the more fantastical elements of the plot, with the more mundane earthly aspects in such a superb fashion. He has managed to successfully weave an incredible story with engaging characters and a rich backdrop.
Welsh as I alluded to above, handles characterisation expertly, each of them seeming as real and as likely to leap off the page as I am to keep turning them. it’s not that they are relentlessly perfect, far from it, but what they do have is an air of authenticity, that makes his characters feel like real people. In addition to strong characterisation, the interactions between said characters, their dynamic and chemistry are a treat, in particular the developing relationship between Anna and Teej, it grows organically throughout the narrative, in such a way that is believable and supports the journey that Anna is on.
Sometimes it can be difficult to forge a new world, particularly in a setting such as this, when it is being built on top of our own, rather than in an unknown. I feel this is true because we have certain preconceptions about our own world, and it can take the reader right out of the narrative if it doesn’t ring true. Welsh however manages to fit his own reality over our own perfectly, he makes the Dreamers, Undreamers and Hazes all come alive, and work perfectly in his narrative, even though they are these fantastical cosmic elements, they just fit so well and are introduced so solidly that they just become part of the many things that make this book so good. Additionally, you never feel like you are being overloaded with information, or that you are simply being exposited at, instead you are delivered to the information, gracefully and in an engaging way, so that you don’t even notice the world-building happening behind the scenes.
The story is incredibly rich and well developed, from the balanced world-building to the parallels of light and darkness, which the story builds consistently throughout, even from the start it sets itself up as darker than your usual Young Adult/New Adult novel, I mean the main character is drugged early on, which is obviously super awful, but it also leads to her discovering her powers, her true nature, and gives Anna her first encounter with the Hazes. It’s this balance and evenly told narrative that for me define this novel, because fantasy can be done well and stories of light and dark are by their very naturally appealing, but Welsh manages to blend so many different elements into his story and has successfully created something unique, complex and surprising.
Anna Undreaming is overall a fast paced, and riveting first novel that flows really well, introduced some incredible concepts, delivers an engaging cast of characters and was a delight to read both when I first received my copy and later when finishing the review. So with all of that in mind I can easily give this book a 4/5. If you want to grab a copy of the book for yourself then head on over to Amazon.
First Published on: https://offtherecordblog.org/