Dreams of Drowning by Patricia Averbach

Dreams of Drowning by Patricia Averbach
Publisher: Bedazzled Ink
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Paranormal, Historical
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Dreams of Drowning is a work of magical realism that moves between real time where lives are buffeted by political conflict, tragedy and loss and another mysterious time where pain is healed, and love is eternal.

It’s 1973 and Amy, an American ex-pat, is living as an illegal immigrant in Toronto where she’s fled to escape the scandal surrounding her twin sister’s death by drowning. Joanie’s been gone two years, but Amy still hears her cries for help. Romance would jeopardize the secrets Amy has to keep, but when she meets Arcus, a graduate student working to restore democracy in Greece, she falls hard. Arcus doesn’t know about Amy’s past, and she doesn’t know Arcus has secrets of his own, including the shady history of an ancient relic he uses as a paperweight.

In 1993 Toronto, Jacob Kanter, a retired archaeologist, is mourning his dear wife and grappling with his son’s plans to move him to a nursing home. Despite double vision, tremors, and cognitive impairment, he remembers sailing as a youth and sets out toward the lake where he boards a ferry boat embarking on its maiden voyage. He expects a short harbor cruise, but the Aqua Meridian is larger than it looks, and time is slippery on the water. When he hears a drowning woman call for help his story merges with Amy’s, and they discover they have unexpected gifts for one another.

Secrets always find a way to reveal themselves in the end.

Recovering from trauma is rarely if ever a straightforward process. Some of the most memorable passages were the ones that explored the many different ways that ordinary moments in life triggered Amy’s terrible memories of her sister’s accidental death. Even a sight as innocuous as noticing store employees carrying a mannequin through a store could dredge up memories she desperately wanted to forget. I thought the author did an excellent job of showing how someone might deal with flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, panic attacks, and the pain of losing a loved one, especially during a period of history when it was much less common to seek treatment from a mental health professional after a traumatic event.

Ms. Averbach did an incredible job of writing a dual perspective novel. The vast majority of the time, I find that I have anywhere from a mild to a strong preference for one of the storylines when I read something like this. It was refreshing to be equally emotionally invested in both Amy and Jacob’s lives and to never be ready to stop reading about either of them. They were both well developed and sympathetic characters that I couldn’t wait to learn more about. This is an incredibly difficult thing to pull off in my experience, so kudos to the author for not only accomplishing it but for making the transitions between the two timelines so seamless and beautiful.

I also enjoyed this exploration of Canadian life in the past. Toronto was and still is a multicultural city filled with a wide variety of often colorful personalities, and the plot reflected that nicely. Readers do not need to have any special knowledge of this part of the world to enjoy the storyline, but those who are already familiar with it will find fabulous references to that culture tucked away here and there.

Dreams of Drowning was utterly delightful. I wouldn’t change a single thing about it!

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