A Gothic tale twisting love, death, and art into a haunting mosaic. A dream inspired Waldherr, already known for non-fiction works like Bad Princess, into producing her first novel: The Lost History of Dreams. Its merits come down to three key features contained within a human and paranormal frame.
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While the protagonist is Robert, a post-mortem photographer, Isabelle takes center stage. His task is to photograph the remains of her deceased uncle, a beloved poet, alongside his wife in her stunning stained-glass tomb. This, however, is locked up tight by Isabelle. In exchange for access to Ada’s Folly, Robert must hear the story of her aunt and uncle’s tragic love story. From there, The Lost History of Dreams unravels its haunted web of secrets and heartbreak.
The novel features extracts from the fictional poet’s works as the narrative progresses, linking them to each stage of the plot. Apart from this, there are underlying questions posed. How far would – and should – artists go for their art? What distinguishes love from artistic passion? More specifically, can this last emotion lead to an addiction to tragedy as a form of artistic inspiration? The final thing to ponder is how these concepts apply to the story and its characters.
Gothic novels can become tedious without a decent skeleton holding them together. Fortunately, The Lost History of Dreams skilfully evades such problems. Intriguing events and pace. Amusing and emotive characters. Stimulating descriptions and themes. It’s easy to get involved in the novel’s mystery and try to work out its secrets.
Waldherr plays with several Gothic, romantic, and artistic features. This has produced a story capable of exciting modern readers, while following in the atmospheric footsteps of Wuthering Heights. Love can indeed create ghosts. And sorrow can be turned into beauty.
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