Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller, Romance, Science Fiction

Dangerous Dreams: A Story of the Lost Colony of Roanoke by Mike Rhynard

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I am fascinated by unsolved mysteries, and the Roanoke Colony is one of the biggest mysteries out there! Like many others, I’ve tried to read up on what information is available and the facts that are known are quite chilling. I was very excited to read this book when I read the premise and was very glad to have been granted access to this title by the author and the publisher!

On July 23, 1587, 117 colonists landed on Roanoke Island. Within less than a month, the dwindling supplies and hostile environment forced Governor John White to sail back to England for additional support. However, White was delayed in his return to Roanoke by war with Spain, and when he returned in 1590, the colony had vanished, leaving only the word “Croatoan” etched into a tree.

In the 21st century, a young woman begins to have mysterious realistic dreams of the New World settlers, and eventually realizes that what she is witnessing is the events that transpired in Roanoke from 1587 onwards, through the mind of a young colonist named Emily Colman. As this young woman continues to dream, she forms a strong connection with Emily, one that makes her wonder if there is more to this bond than just these simple dreams.

Through these visions, we see Emily and the colonists struggle to survive amidst internal dispute and the powerful Powhatan tribe members, who seek to destroy all in the colony. To add to this, Emily faces the struggle of having multiple suitors who desire her hand in marriage. As the colony’s future begins to grow more and more perilous, Emily must face life-threatening perils that will ultimately force her to make a decision that will change her life forever.

The excitement I approached this novel with quickly waned as I began to read this story. Perhaps it was the version that I was reading but I had a very difficult time following along with the story. Everything was very choppy and sometimes it was difficult to tell what exactly was going on and who exactly was talking. The conversations itself seemed very stilted and awkward, making the story and the characters seem even more one-dimensional than they already were. There were also a great deal of subplots, which made it very difficult to keep things straight. With every page, I was getting introduced to new characters and new events and new information, so much so that they all began to blend together and I became extremely confused and frustrated. Also, some of the elements really didn’t work. For example, using Emily, a virgin who is from a well-respected family, as a wet nurse made no sense to me. And why was there so much interest in her choosing a suitor?! Shouldn’t she – and all other people – be focusing on something more important, like their SURVIVAL?! When the third love interest was introduced, I literally rolled my eyes; I hate when characters suddenly see a person and know that “he is THE ONE”. It is just so unbelievable and throws credibility for the whole story out the window. I enjoyed hearing about the survival aspects but sometimes the way it was described didn’t make sense to me; if we are reading about the Roanoke survivors through these dreams that are from Emily’s perspectives, then how can we be seeing and hearing conversations happening when she is not present? That was something that kept popping into my mind. There weren’t too many mentions of Allie, who is the young woman from the 21st century, and whenever she was part of the story, all she seemed to do was say “wow, what a weird dream” and “oh no, not this!” and then fall back asleep and keep dreaming; she really didn’t have much substance as a character. Because of all of these reasons, I couldn’t push myself to finish this novel and stopped reading at 35%.

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