Book Review: Somnium by Deirdre Swinden

This is a scary story.

It’s hard to write a decent review because almost anything I write will be something of a spoiler to an intricately plotted, well-woven imagining. I’m old enough to remember when William Gibson’s Neuromancer first came out back in 1984 and this echoes with the same oil-slick complexity.

There is something mythical about dreams. In our world they can be used for psychoanalysis or even predicting the future. Personally, a nightmare can haunt me for days. The intangible, surreal nature of dreams takes us away from what is predictable and safe. So does this story.

The question that this story asks is – what happens if technology can infiltrate our dreams? Who are the heroes? Who are the ones that suffer? Where does humanity shine and where are the depths darkest? And what happens when we try and control dreams.

This story has layer on meticulously crafted layer of themes, as nebulous as dreams themselves. The characters are well drawn and distinct, each with their own drives and weaknesses. Swinden recognises that there are good people as well as bad people and strong people as well as weak people. The dialogue is strong and distinct, with each character having their own way of communicating. The description is wonderfully vivid – rather too vivid if you are a nervous reader delving into the world of nightmares.

This is a well crafted story of dystopian horror with unexpected heroes and villains, dreadful horrors both in the dream world and in the deals that are made in the waking world. I strongly recommend that you do not read this just before bedtime.

Somnium by Deirdre Swinten is available from Amazon.

A successful writer/editor in the corporate world for more than two decades, Deirdre Swinden is currently living and writing in North Carolina. She received an MFA in Creative Writing from Arcadia University and has published short stories in Griffel Literary Magazine and Grim & Gilded. Early in her writing career, she won the Popular Short Story Contest at the 2000 Philadelphia Writers’ Conference with her short work, “Shooting Televisions.” You can find her at

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