by J. Kathleen Cheney
This is a sequel to Cheney’s Dreaming Death, reviewed here, and set in the same world as the series that contains Oathbreaker, Original, and Overseer (all also reviewed by A&A). I’ve made no bones about the fact that I’m a fan of J. Kathleen Cheney’s writing, so I should’ve known that when I sat down to read it I wouldn’t be able to put In Dreaming Bound down until I finished it. It was a marvelous read.
This is a world that contains several Fortresses, that are burrowed deep into the earth in various places on this world. The Fortresses are sentiment, and contain AI’s that are able to communicate the certain gifted people. These people, known as Sensitives, are necessary to communicate with the Fortresses. But their abilities also make it so that they have to keep rigid control of their emotions, so that those emotions will not spill out on others, and so upset them by messing up the “ambient.”
Shirrone Anjir is the child of a bastard daughter of a king and despite being blind has unusual powers. She is a touch sensitive, and in the previous book she would touch murder victims and be able to discover what had happened to them. We met her in Dreaming Death, where despite being a child she seemed to be somehow bound to pick up the disturbing dreams of a man who investigated murders for the military, Mikael Lee. These were disturbing because Mikael dreamed the murders as they were happening, and as if they were happening to him– including echoing physical trauma. Shirrone could, to some extent, negate that trauma. By the end of that can’t-put-down book we discovered exactly how they became bound together, and in In Dreaming Bound the binding has consequences.
It starts with Shirrone being kidnapped by somebody know knows she has these abilities, and blunts them so that she can’t be found. Mikael and his military supervisor find her anyhow, and bring her back, but the episode convinces Shirrone’s mother that the family needs to acknowledge their royal relatives and move into the palace, for safety. Shirrone, and one of her sisters, are moved into the Fortress underneath the royal palace, and placed in their yeargroup. A yeargroup is the basic family unit in the Fortress, and Shirrone is placed with the Sixteens for the four months until she reaches her majority at the age of 17. This separates her from Mikael, whom she might as well be betrothed to although that’s not legal at her age, and both Shirrone and Mikael have to hide their psychic bond.
Mikael has problems of his own: his psychic ability is so strong that he can calm hundreds of panicking people at the same time. He also broadcasts his disturbing dreams, and until Shirrone came along to mute the worst of it, the sensitives who picked up his murder dreams had been nearly in agony. Not having Shirrone available to mute his dreams complicates a lot of palace intrigue and the investigation into who kidnapped Shirrone, and why.
Like the rest of this series, this has seamless writing with excellent characters and marvelous world building. If I have one complaint about this book, it would be similar to my complaint about book 2 of the The Lord of the Rings. It’s blindingly obvious that this is only part of a larger story, and while In Dreaming Bound is wonderful I simply can’t wait for the sequel where we discover what was really behind Shirrone’s kidnapping.
— Wendy S. Delmater