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Book Review: The Dream Engine

The Drean Engine

Title: The Dream Engine

Author: Leah Karloff

Genre: Fantasy

Book procurement: Author gave me a copy for an honest review

Synopsis: (Goodreads)

Time is a circle. Time is a loop.

Kara Swatch lives in a world manipulated by unseen forces. Always in the shadows, hidden just beyond the line of fire. These time travellers set events in motion and guide them through to their sordid ends, but never spare a thought for the lives trapped in the chaos.

It’s all too large and far-reaching for Kara to understand – what she sees are the assassinations and the vanishings and the cryptic messages written in the sky, all pointing to the secrets in her dreams. To the time travellers.

But curiosity killed the cat. The more she uncovers about Lucem and the Sognate, who guard against curiosity with an iron fist, the more she begins to notice constants. They seem to run through the world like a needle and thread, emerging over and over and over again.

And they have their own stories to tell.


I received this copy from Leah Karloff in exchange for an honest review. This is her debut novel and I must say off the bat that I was wonderfully surprised by it. I look forward to reading more of her work in the future.

The first chapter threw me off completely during the first three quarters of the book. I was trying to piece it together somewhere somehow but was coming up blank even as a particular character popped up a few times. As the story unraveled, it all came together like a puzzle missing pieces that you keep finding. As the world becomes clearer, I had to fight the urge to “ooooh” and “aaah” and tap people incessantly to ask them if they saw it coming, because clearly I didn’t. And then that first chapter was like a hammer to the chest. I loved it.

The story is told well, a pace that starts off slow and builds its way to the end. I experienced the world as the characters experienced the world, as I too tried to make sense of this world called Lucem. World building was top notch, from the city to the world to the well written history that runs through the little things in this novel. It made me realise how much I take for granted in life. How many books can make me say that? Very few.
At times I was unsure about the main character Kara Swatch. Most of the story is told from her perspective, switching to other characters to give a bit more insight as to what was happening outside of her knowledge. She seemed to become a different character, almost inconsistent in her moods and actions. Perhaps a little more insight into her thought process might have helped clear this up, but it doesn’t take away too much from the story. The other characters remain true to themselves and altogether they make a colourful cast.

There were a few mistakes here and there in the form of a misspelled word but they are few and far apart and don’t take away the beauty of the story. Well done to Leah Karloff for a great book.

Rating:  An invigorating 4 out of 5

“Leah Karloff is a 17 year old student from Shrewsbury, in the UK. She has qualifications in Sociology, Psychology, and Classics, and hopes to become a teacher. Her favourite interests, besides reading, are spending time with her dogs and sipping overpriced instant-tea. Leah’s first novel, The Dream Engine, was inspired by the works of Philip Pullman, Veronica Roth and H.P Lovecraft. She can also burp the alphabet.”

You can find her book on:




You can also visit her blog: Spindlewald


About Nthato Morakabi

Nthato Morakabi is a South African published author. He has short stories appearing in both international and local anthologies, and has published his first book, Beneath the Wax, which opens his three-part novella series "Wax". He is an avid reader, blogger and writer.

4 responses »

  1. She’s a student? Wow. I won’t be telling my family about that. Considering I’ve bunked the day and am sitting in my PJs eating cake. Lol. I love the sound of this. She sounds like someone to look out for.

  2. Pingback: Through the Looking Glass | A-Scribe To Describe

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