In My Dreams I Hold A Knife – Ashley Winstead

I wanted to see perfection. I ached for it in the deep, dark core f me: to be so good I left other people in the dust. It wasn’t an endearing thing to admit, so I’d never told anyone, save a therapist once. She’d asked if I thought it was possible to be perfect, and I’d amended that I didn’t need to be perfect, per se, as long as I was the best.

Yes, yes yes.

This book is my new everything, my new obsession, my new favorite. This will be the only thing I talk about from now on, a dark academia at its best.

Six friends. One unsolved murder. One college reunion. We are guided through the past and present, to uncover the story of the East House Seven. Mint, Caro, Frankie, Coop, Heather, Jack, and Jessica. The past goes through the four years of college, and I loved to follow this timeline and see the decaying of the group and the tension building in the relationships. The present is the 10-year reunion of the class of 2009 of Duquette University and there we find very different dynamics than what used to be in college.

Jessica Miller is our main protagonist and narrator, she is extremely ambitious and competitive, even inside her circle of friends (especially with her friends) and she is also somewhat an unreliable narration too. I was always kept guessing with her, on the edge of my seat and my doubts of her true intentions.

To me every character was so fleshed out, they read like real people, each flawed and with dark layers to their personalities, I loved this group so much. They each gave parts of themselves to make this friendship work, and yet each of them kept so many secrets that threatened to destroy everything.

Walking across campus, under soaring Gothic towers, the dramatic architecture softened by magnolia trees, their thick curved branches, waxy leaves, and white blooms so dizzyingly perfumed they could pull you in, close enough to touch, before you blinked and realized you’d wandered off the sidewalk. College: a freedom so profound the joy of it didn’t wear off the entire four years.

The atmosphere is perfectly constructed. The setting of Duquette University so palpable and intense, the competitiveness between the friends, the desperation and lengths each one is willing to go in the name of academia, are truly outstanding works in representing the lives of academic students and their dramas. I saw so much of myself in this book, it really touched me deeply.

This is a murder mystery whodunit type, but it is so much more than that. The author conducts us through the revelations and layers behind the minds of the characters and their past, the frictions, fears, and dark part of each of them. The psychological aspect of this book is so well done, I loved the construction of the meanings and explanations for the actions and behaviors of the characters and it was a pleasure to read each page.

I adored this story so much I don’t even think I am capable of writing a review that does it justice. It’s just an amazing book from start to finish and I am so glad I picked it up. If you like intricate writing, exceptionally constructed characters, dark academia, and a deep story that dives into the dark parts of humans, this is the book for you.I can’t recommend it enough.

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