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The Sandman is seventeen-year-old Nora’s closest friend and best-kept secret. He has to be, if she doesn’t want a one-way ticket back to the psychiatrist. It took her too long to learn not to mention the hooded figure in her dreams to her mother, who still watches Nora as if she’ll crack. So when Nora’s friends start mysteriously dying gruesome deaths in their sleep, she isn’t altogether surprised when the police direct their suspicion at her. The Sandman is the only one she can turn to for answers. But the truth might be more than she bargained for…

For the last five years, the Sandman has spent every night protecting Nora. When he hid the secret to the Nightmare Lord’s escape inside her dreams, he never expected to fall in love with her. Neither did he think his nemesis would find her so quickly, but there’s no mistaking his cruel handiwork. The Nightmare Lord is tired of playing by the rules and will do anything to release his deadly nightmares into the world, even if that means tormenting Nora until she breaks.

When the Nightmare Lord kidnaps Nora’s sister, Nora must enter enemy territory to save her. The Sandman is determined to help, but if Nora isn’t careful, she could lose even more than her family to the darkness.

(Please note: This story contains vivid death scenes.)

288 pages

First published September 11, 2018

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About the author

Amber R. Duell

26 books233 followers
Amber R. Duell is a native of Central New York but currently lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two sons. She survives on caffeine and baked goods. When not reading or writing, she enjoys snowboarding, embroidering, staying up way too late to research genealogy, and discovering real-life adventures.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 105 reviews
Profile Image for Carrie.
3,162 reviews1,518 followers
January 10, 2019
Well now, I have to admit that the first thing drawing me into Dream Keeper would have to be that beautiful cover. But once I took a glance at what the book would be about I couldn’t help but be curious. As a long time fan of horror the line “start mysteriously dying gruesome deaths in their sleep” stood out like a sore thumb and made the think of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, sign me up please. While Dream Keeper isn’t exactly horror it is a darker young adult fantasy with some gruesome deaths involved so it may not be for everyone.

Seventeen year old Nora has had an ongoing relationship with a figure in her dreams known as The Sandman every night for years. Nora learned a while ago that talking of The Sandman to her friends and family was a no no as it would only land her into treatment yet again. However, now another entity of the dream world has found Nora and this one is not her friend. The Nightmare Lord tracked down Nora after The Sandman hid the key to his escape within Nora making her the Dream Keeper and when others around her begin to die violent deaths Nora knows she needs to face The Nightmare Lord in his territory.

The Dream Keeper by Amber R. Duell is the first book of the young adult fantasy The Dark Dreamer Trilogy. One thing I can say is it’s certainly different and didn’t take long to grab my attention. While it has the darker almost horror vibe to some of it the story also has a bit of romance making it one of those that crosses genres and I do love a good mix to a story. Obviously being part of a trilogy there was an ending that left the door open for more in the series which will certainly be interesting to see what the author comes up with next.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.com/
Profile Image for Candace Robinson.
Author 49 books996 followers
September 15, 2018
Right off the bat, I was extremely intrigued by this book. I've read three other stories by Duell, so I knew the writing was going to be flawless and the story would be unique. I was not disappointed!

First off, I'm going to say I don't get scared or need a blanket when reading a dark or creepy book. Instead, I'm more like, heck yes that was awesome! And there was a whole bunch of fist pumping with the nightmare descriptions!

The book is told in dual POV, and I already knew Sandman would be my favorite chapters—which they were. But Nora's were great too—she was a strong character that made choices for heself. Now, let's get down to swoony business, the Sandman was sweet and can I just keep him in my pocket? Also, I want to go to my own private sand beach like now, have a sand whip, and kapow it against the sand, just because!

So far, this is my favorite book by the author, fab-ab-ab writing and especially the world, which was such a cool concept. Loved it! Give me the next one, now!
Profile Image for Bex (Beckie Bookworm).
1,960 reviews1,252 followers
December 21, 2018

This was such an engaging and entertaining foray into the dream and nightmare-scape.
Such imagination was expanded here and I was ever so fascinated by the Sandman himself.
If I'm being honest here he was hands down my favourite character in Dream Keeper by far: and the best thing overall about this story.
I really would have liked to have dug deeper into his backstory than we actually did: hopefully, his particular tale will emerge gradually in future instalments.
So In itself, as a story, the prose used throughout Dreamkeeper had such a lyrical feel to it.
Also though YA, this actually had a much darker vibe to it than I was originally expecting.
This is not an actual criticism just an observation: I myself prefer it when there are shades of grey involved: makes things a tad meatier.
So I found this a bit light on developed secondary characters and also it did get slightly repetitive at times in regard to Nora's nighttime wanderings.
I also disliked that we never got a name for the Sandman: It left me feeling slightly disconnected to him as an individual and as an extension a romantic interest.
I also found it a tad disconcerting that certain pivotal players were introduced so late in the game without any prior mentions.
Despite this, I still enjoyed myself with this it's an extremely imaginative story.
I also liked where this eventually took us and originally I was not sure if I was gonna read the next.
instalment of this as I wasn't really that invested overall but with that finale how could I not: I so gotta see where this is heading to next.
So on that note folks: I will love ya and leave ya.
I voluntary reviewed an Arc of Dream Keeper (The Dark Dreamer Trilogy, #1).
All opinions expressed are entirely my own.


Reviewed By Beckie Bookworm
Profile Image for Sheila G.
506 reviews97 followers
January 31, 2019
See my full review of this book on my blog along with others at: foalsfictionandfiligree.com

I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review from Parliament House Publishing. Thank you so much!


Content Warning: Vivid Death and Gore, Profanity, Possible Emotional Abuse


For every light there was a shadow, for every dream, a nightmare.

Wow. I requested an ARC of this book on a whim. While a story based on the Sandman sounded interesting, I was apprehensive because of the warning in the description. While yes, there are vivid death scenes, I think it helps to make this story all the more realistic, and powerful. Nightmares are in our minds, but when they become a tangible thing…it shows how terrifying our realities can be.

The story immediately starts off with the Sandman. The plot is divulged by the Sandman himself, along with the protagonist, Nora. For years, Nora has struggled to believe that she is OK. After her parents split, she began meeting the Sandman in her dreams after asking for his help to sleep. Convinced she was on the verge of a mental break, Nora’s mother is determined to “fix” her by sending her to counseling, and monitoring her day and night activities. Nora quickly learns that she must keep her dreams of the Sandman a secret so her mom doesn’t worry. While Nora thinks the Sandman is a part of her imagination that works in tandem to govern her state of mind, she realizes that her tie to this timeless being is much deeper than she realized. Because, the Sandman is real.

One thing that this book does so well is that it never allows the reader to become bored. Moreover, it’s not filled with “plot fillers.” It’s filled with applicable and creative twists and details that literally give it a dreamlike quality. I find the concept of dreams and nightmares to be a very difficult topic to pin down, yet, I believe Duell did a beautiful rendering, and personifies them in the Sandman and the Weaver well.

This book, without a doubt, will make you feel anxious! With Nora constantly waging war in her mind about everything in the waking world and dreamland, I constantly was questioning what was real and what wasn’t. I thought it was a very interesting take on a character.

Although I can’t really say anything for spoiler reasons, I loved the ending! I kept thinking while reading, how is this possibly going to end? And when it did, I was shocked! This book was so well written. The writing style, description, overall creativity, plot line, and complex characters, altogether made a dream of a book. The author’s ability to create realistic monologues of the character’s thoughts floored me.

There were a few areas that I felt that needed some explanation, but I’m hoping (and expecting) them to be explained in the sequels to come. Like:
>Why Nora?
>More backstory on the Weaver and Sandman’s friendship and more of what happened.

I really, really don’t want to wait until the next book comes out in this series! I’m very much looking forward to it! This book is a definite pre-order for me!

Vulgarity: Some.
Sexual content: Kissing.
Violence: Quite a bit, with gore and vivid death. Because of this, I would highly recommend this be read by, at least, mature readers.

My Rating: ★★★★★​

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Profile Image for Sissy Lu {Book Savvy Reviews}.
519 reviews50 followers
September 18, 2018
Whoah! Fans of Neil Gaiman, Splintered [by A.G. Howard,] and Nightmare on Elm Street, look no further. Your next read has arrived...or sort of, coming to a bookstore near you in January '19! ;D

A book about the Sandman, and the Weaver? Sign me up! I loved Sandy from Guardians, but my *favorite* was Pitch, and if you loved him too I can promise that you'll love Weaver! I'm also a huge fan of Splintered by A.G. Howard and this filled a void for me, the world building is epic as well as eerie, and it is tangible at every twist and turn. I felt entirely immersed in this world, for better or worse [I'm thankful I didn't have nightmares because I'm a wuss!]

Aside from the world, the characters were great, too, each of them had their moments of growth and they were easy to differentiate. Duell knows how to create characters with depth, which she uses to shatter your heart.

The over-arching plot is great, too. A girl who is left to guard something precious and believes herself to be insane as she escapes to the dream world to meet "The Sandman" and prefers to be in that world versus reality.

It's fast paced, it's romantic, it's horrifying, and it is altogether a wonderful book.

Shelf it, squeeze it, and love it!
Profile Image for Dianne.
6,766 reviews589 followers
November 26, 2018
Mr. Sandman, bring me a dream…Amber R. Duell’s DREAM KEEPER is a refreshingly unique read that fulfilled this fantasy lover’s dream of finding another hidden gem in the treasure chest of great reading!

Nora has always met the Sandman in her dreams, but when she becomes a suspect in her friends’ murders, only the Sandman can help her find the killer. He has crossed the veil between dreams and the physical world, but he is not alone, the Nightmare Lord, his nemesis, has his sights set on Nora…and bringing her into the darkness.

Start to finish, I was completely impressed with Amber R. Duell’s ability to create fantasy world filled with both light and dark while adding a touch of young romance to her tale and never missing a beat! Imagine a dreamscape and finding a friend, then finding them in your wakened world and if there is good, there must be evil for balance. Strong characters, especially Nora share POVs that are each so well-written, it is easy to tell who is “seeing” the events that are happening!

Amber R. Duell has made my authors to follow list! Mark this date down, January 29, 2019, the date DREAM KEEPER releases.

I received a complimentary ARC edition from Amber R. Duell!

Series: The Dark Dreamer Trilogy - Book 1
Publisher: The Parliament House (September 11, 2018)
Publication Date: January 29, 2019
Genre: YA Fantasy
Print Length: 288 pages
Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
For Reviews, Giveaways, Fabulous Book News, follow: http://tometender.blogspot.com
Profile Image for JenacideByBibliophile.
209 reviews127 followers
January 29, 2019
Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, The Parliament House, via NetGalley for an honest review.


When I saw Dream Keeper on Netgalley, I just knew I had to have it.

A retelling of the Sandman, the weaver of nightmares, and a young girl caught up in the middle of it all? Sold. A YA story or romance, fantasy and magic? Sold.

A Lord of Nightmares, and a Lord of Dreams.

A Night World, and a Day World.

It ALL just promised to be SO. AMAZING.

I mean I just…loved it…


With the description above basically giving away the ENTIRE book, I realize that it would be vastly unnecessary for me to give my own synopsis. So, let’s just jump right in, shall we? I have a feeling this review if going to be short and sweet.

Well…short and sour.

This book had a TON of promise, but really fell flat for me. The reason for that MAY be because it feels like it targets a younger audience, Pre-Teen/Teen, by the characters coming across as childlike and adolescent rather than somewhat mature. The author chose to use phrases like “sorry, not sorry” in one instance, and then words like perturbed and grotesque in the next. Though the writing is VERY descriptive and paints a beautiful picture of the dream and nightmare world, I felt like I was caught in a wind tunnel of conflicting writing styles. At one point it feels eloquent and mature, and the next it is simplistic and feels cheesy. I almost felt like I was reading a soap-opera at times.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have a strong connection to Nora and the Sandman, especially when it came to their romance. When the reader starts this book, they are thrust right in the middle of the story. There isn’t much of a premise, so it eventually “backpedals” you through past events to catch you up. Sometimes this works in stories, but in this case, it was just confusing. Due to the quick start, and even quicker romance, it doesn’t give the reader adequate time to connect to Nora and the Sandman. The Sandman ended up sounding like a brooding teenager even though he’s supposed to be decades old, and Nora didn’t seem to have much of an emotional response to the murders around her…which is strange. Shouldn’t she be freaking the f**k out? I would be! So instead of exciting and fresh, these characters came off as quite dull and unimpressive.

The flow of the writing and the structure of this story also left me a little unsettled. With the beginning starting from nowhere and being rushed, it made me think that this series was going to be PACKED with exciting moments. I mean, it would have to be for this to be a trilogy and start that way, right?! Well, yes and no. I wasn’t bored while reading, but I DID feel like there wasn’t a lot of meaningful and necessary moments happening. Things felt a little out of order, or rushed in spots and slow in others. My editing brain kept wanting to rearrange different paragraphs and sentences, so it was a bit hard to get through.

Another confusing aspect was that a bunch of REALLY important characters didn’t come into this story until the end. By the time I got to these new characters, I was already checked-out of the story and skimming the lines. Maybe if they were introduced earlier, it would have kept my attention and interest more. I thought the character of Baku was very creative, so I wish he would have had a bigger role and made a stronger connection with Nora or the Sandman. It could have been a memorable and amusing duo for the reader to get hooked on.

This really came off more negative than I was anticipating, which is unfortunate. This story had a lot of great ideas and moments, but I think some final editing could have really improved it. Though I am slightly curious to see if the writing and characters improve in book two, I probably won’t be picking up the next copy. With the characters and flow of writing falling short, Dream Keeper turned out to be a real dud for me. This is of course, is just my opinion. A lot of other readers really enjoyed this story, so don’t use my words as law. Even though you could. 😉

Profile Image for Shelley.
5,163 reviews458 followers
January 25, 2019
*Source* Publisher
*Genre* Young Adult, Paranormal
*Rating* 3.5-4


Dream Keeper is the first installment in author Amber R. Duell's The Dark Dreamer Trilogy. A fair warning, this story is dark. There are grotesque death scenes that may not be suitable for those who are triggered by blood and more blood. Personally, none of this affected me in the way I rated this book overall or my desire to read the sequel. This story alternates between 17-year old Nora Gallagher, and the Sandman who is the only one who has kept her sane since her parents divorce.

*Full Review @ Gizmos Reviews*


Profile Image for Niki.
744 reviews116 followers
September 10, 2019
This is one of those "You've got to turn your brain off to read this" books. There are so many things that could have been saved with better editing, but ended up being mediocre as is.

First of all: the Sandman, an eternal being that is thousands of years old, ~falling in love~ with a 17-year-old girl that should, by all accounts, be an infant in his eyes, is cringey at best, problematic at worst. I know that stories about mythical beings falling in love with humans are suuuper common and have been since, well, ancient civilizations, but that doesn't mean that we don't know any better in 2k19.

Secondly: the Weaver and the nightmares are pretty pathetic. We're supposed to take them really seriously, especially after the Weaver kills a few people and (conveniently) only kidnaps Nora's sis (instead of killing her too), buuuut. The horror/ death scenes aren't written with the necessary amount of intensity or payoff, so they're kinda just... there... and we're kinda just told just how much of a threat the Weaver is.

In the scenes he's actually in, he's not much of a threat at all, and Nora keeps outsmarting him easily. The scene most guilty of this was when he met her alone with no backup while knowing full well she was planning to betray their deal, so he was left just watching her take her sister back AND a thread from him, and didn't do anything about it, at all. Laughable.

The nightmares are interesting in concept, and the scenes in the Nightmare world were some of the ones I enjoyed the most, but they're still not given enough love to shine. Rowan and Kail were what made that last part of the book "pop" for me, and I enjoyed their scenes quite a lot (thank God, because for most of the book, I was VERY aware of every single word I was reading, the book never flew by), but, again, they're hardly even there.

And thirdly: the climax of the book, arguably the most important part of it, is disproportionate to the rest of the book in length and quality. It feels rushed and the conclusion basically happens out of the blue, with zero foreshadowing or suspense, I could hardly even tell what was happening WHILE I was reading it. Not to mention that the entire conclusion is, painfully, very clearly a setup for the next book(s), since this is supposed to be a series.

The writing is fine and it does its job, but I can't help but feel that such a fantastical world needed a bit of purple prose, of detailed descriptions of fantasy settings, or terrifying monsters. It felt a bit detached and flat.

The characters are also flat, and most of the book is Nora and the Sandman awkwardly skirting around each other, conveniently not talking about things they SHOULD be talking about, and later making out. They're both cookie-cutter characters that have little to no chemistry, but still, we HAD to have some romance in there, so here we go, I guess.

As I said above, I was very, very much aware of every word I read to finish this, and that's never a good thing about a book. It wasn't terrible, it wasn't offensive, I didn't hate it, but it really doesn't bring anything new to the table. I don't think I'll remember it in a few months.

**I got a free copy of this book from NetGalley. All opinions are my own.**
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Erika Sarutobi.
629 reviews23 followers
November 29, 2019
3.5 stars.

I enjoyed reading through this however I felt like the concept was good but execution is so-so. The beginning and end of the book was great but the middle part not so much. It kinda dragged and was too focused on reassurances and the romance. A bit cliche on some moments but I did like that it didn't shy away from the gore and death as well as the description of the creepy nightmares. Each problem was conveniently solved and was done in a page or so despite pages of planning for the worse.

As for the characters, they were fine to me but I wasn't a big fan of how the Sandman was too obsessed and protective of Nora (not in a toxic way). And I wish his name wasn't the Sandman, I kept laughing in serious moment because of how ridiculous I found his name to be.

What I hated the most is how the last 100 pages or so was all just planning for the ending which ended in a page or two in the end. The ending was predictable but I'm interested in what the author will do with it in the next book.

Overall, it was cliche and convenient but I like the writing style. I'm interested in how things are going to change and what will Nora do in the next book.

Thank you Netgalley for providing me with the digital copy for an honest review.
Profile Image for Hélène Louise.
Author 18 books81 followers
January 3, 2019
I didn't finish this book and stopped at the half. Not because I didn't like it at all, I was rather entertained, but because of some important things lacking and suddenly some insufferable ones appearing.

From the very beginning I had some great difficulties suspending my belief about one particular point: the sandman is not human and is ageless: he exists since forever, since the first humans. But in this story he's also and mostly a seventeen years old boy with magic powers. He had the exact personality of your random sweet YA literature love interest. I couldn't fathom why this ageless non human being suddenly falls in love with Nora (only one year ago we learn, how convenient since he knows her since she was twelve years old while he was....already millennias old). To be honest the heroine also wonders about it, but the book doesn't offer any satisfying answer.

Well this part wasn't so bad, the story was good and easy to read, and this kind of stretch is frequent in fantasy romances. But in my opinion the story would have been more touching if it had begun earlier, if we could have met the characters when they were falling I love, attending to their interactions. With more showing not telling.
In this book the two main characters aren't three dimensional ones, just very classic YA characters, not bad, not good.

Still, since the passage that made me brutally stop reading, I was about to put one more star to my review. But if approximative psychology is acceptable in YA reads (it shouldn't, but there we are) some misuses are not.
To explain myself clearly I'm going to write an extract and also make some small spoilers. If you want to read this book whatever it be and don't want it be told any detail about the story, please stop reading now.

At the middle of the story our heroine, Nora, has suffered a lot. Since the age twelve (she's now seventeen), she dreams every night about the sandman, who became a dear friend. She has been psychiatrically treated and used to think that she may be crazy, as her sandman can't exist in real life. If the reader understands that the sandman actually exists, in her dreams but also since the beginning of the book in human form, Nora has just found about it. Nora and the sandman also have just confessed their love to each other. So far so good.

But Nora has also just learned that the Weaver (the bad guy, the one like the sandman but for nightmares' side) has killed one of her acquaintances. Thanks to him, she has seen a young girl stabbing herself to death with a pencil, has discovered the gory mutilated corpses of her two best friends (incidentally there wasn't any therapy envisioned for her after that, so weird), have learned that her (rather estranged but still) father have just died, and is now desperately searching her missing sister, who has been abducted by the Weaver and is actually asleep, having such horrible nightmares that the experience will probably lead her to permanent insanity.
And here's the scene between her and Ben, aka he sandman, aka her brand new boyfriend:

"We rushed up to the nearest building, and I plastered myself against the back porch. The Sandman smirked. 'I don't think that's necessary ', he said.
I stuck my tongue out at him. 'Says you. If we get caught you can magic your way out of here. I waved a hand a hand at the shed. 'Check, please'.
'Sure, let me get my invisibility cloak out first.
'Sandman', I growled.
He laughs. 'Hold on, Nancy Drew'."

So, a few pages before Nora was falling to pieces - which was perfectly normal. But suddenly she has the heart to banter and flirt with the sandman while searching for (the body of) her sister?!
It was the final straw, I just can't read this kind of incoherent story. It's a shame as the author has made some commendable efforts for some many other points, as the difficulties of Nora's situation (she can't say anything because she knows she'd be immediately directed to a psychiatrist), or the fact that the police, if not believing her guilty, still believe that she's hiding something and don't stop interrogating her.
It's just that I don't believe possible to tell such a story. A sweet teenage love story can't be told in such a dramatic and horrible context, one must chose the book's totality at some point.

To conclude if you don't mind such logical flaws in your readings, and if the pitch of the book appeals to you, you may like it much more that I did.

(I thank Netgalley and The Parliament House for sending me the ARC in exchange for my honest review)
December 17, 2018
Okay so I had this really long review written and sadly, it didn't save. So I'm going to try this again and hope it saves. A person can only have so many emotions! ... And lemme tell ya... This book has a lot of emotions to sort through. Lol

I freaking LOVED this book. It was Rise of the Guardians meets Nightmare On Elm Street. Two of my favorite things! From the very first sentence of this book, I was instantly hooked. I never wanted to put this book down.... and I didn't unless I had to sleep. Lol Which let me just say, the things in the nightmare side of this book... Will give you nightmares. Least it did for me. Not surprised though. It was written so well, it felt like you were right there in the story. It was so amazing.

I have always had a bit of obsession with the Sandman, I guess since I was little and first heard the song "Mr. Sandman" then I grew up and saw Rise of the Guardians and that was the last nail in the coffin, I've had a solid obsession ever since. So when I saw this book on NG, I knew I HAD to read it. I couldn't pass it up. I was more surprised when I was accepted but started the book right away and I am so glad I did.

Every character was so strong! And I do mean EVERY character! Even the small characters who you hardly saw, everything fit so perfectly. And if you know readers, they HATE when characters come in mid story and you're suppose to instantly know them like they are just as important as the main characters. Oddly enough, even though characters came in late, there was no annoyance there! It was like "Oh, hello. Welcome. Welcome. Have no idea who you are but welcome, anyway!" ... and you knew them. Like, yeah they literally just came in but they are written so well, you feel like you have been reading about them through the whole book. It's new! Lol Amber Duell has talent there, that's for sure! Lol

I have never read a book by this author before but I am so thankful Dream Keeper was the first. It makes me want to devour everything else she has ever written. If all her other books are written like this, I know I will love them just as much. Hahah

I honestly can't wait for book two! I don't want to wait forever, but it already feels like it's been forever! X_X

That ending! OMG THE ENDING!!!! It was like a cliffhanger but not!! It left you trying to flip pages that weren't there in hopes that more pages would magically appear so you could finish the story.
Also, I saw that ending coming from a mile away but I was still wasn't expecting. I know that sounds crazy but it's true! Ughhh It's driving me crazy. I want to know what happens next! I NEED TO KNOW!!!

If you get the chance to read this book, READ IT!!!!!
Profile Image for Nia •ShadesOfPaper•.
834 reviews109 followers
February 11, 2019
For more review follow my blog shades of paper

Okay, where do I start with this book? I was so excited to read it, because the premise sounded absolutely amazing, and I thought I would really love this book, but turns out I was pretty disappointed with its outcome, and had a lot of problems not only with the characters but with the plot itself.

One of the main problems I had with Dream Keeper was that there was hardly any information or explanation neither about the magic system nor about the world building, and keeping in mind that those two were two of the main focuses of the story, it only made the story much more confusing, and that made the reader ask themselves a lot of questions that were left unanswered. It felt as if we were thrown into this magical world/story and were expected to know everything that was going on.

The characters were a bit choppy and not flashed out. The interactions between them throughout the story felt super forced and awkward, and at times their conversations could have been edited out, because it seemed like they didn’t add anything to the story and were only there to add more words to the book.

The romance was another thing that I wasn’t the biggest fan of. It was too rushed and shoved in your face, and I couldn’t see any chemistry between the two characters.

It’s true that Dream Keeper was very easy to read and super fast paced, and there were certain parts that kept me interesting to see what was going to happen next, but overall that didn’t redeem the rest of the book, sadly.

I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This doesn’t change my opinion at all. All thoughts are my own.
Profile Image for Kalyn Josephson.
Author 7 books670 followers
August 11, 2018
I was lucky enough to read an early copy of this book! It's just the sort of fantastical escape that I enjoy. The dream world Amber creates is so beautiful and terrifying, the villain compelling, and I can't even being to describe the ending. Let's just say I need book 2 immediately. If you're a fan of dark fantasies, this one's for you.
Profile Image for Dreamer.
503 reviews7 followers
December 19, 2018
Such an amazing tale!

The Sandman and the Weaver of Nightmares. Wonderful writing and world building, just wonderful, I tell you. It’s days later, and I’m still thinking about the picturesque night realm that author Amber R. Duell has created.

The characters are relatable, the fantasy world rich and lovely, even during nightmare sequences, and the abilities of the Sandman and Nightmare Lord were a joy to see in action. I’m excited to see this series continue.

This is an amazing YA Fantasy that I cannot recommend highly enough. Especially for fans of A.G. Howard’s ‘Splintered’ series.

‘Dream Keeper’ will be available on January 29, 2019.

#DreamKeeper #NetGalley - I voluntarily read a Review Copy of this book. All opinions stated are solely my own and no one else’s. Read more reviews! http://dreamerjbookreviews.blogspot.com
Profile Image for Sophia (Bookwyrming Thoughts).
660 reviews231 followers
December 26, 2018
I received this book for free from YA Bound Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Let's begin with how gorgeous the cover for Dream Keeper is because it is one heck of a beauty. In a way, it gives off great dreamy vibes that could go dark any minute.

Welcome to the world where dreams and nightmares form.
Amber Duell brings us to an interestingly crafted world where dreams and nightmares are separate from each other in one world. That world is co-ruled by the Nightmare Lord and the Sandman, who are now enemies after a falling out. From a young age, Nora is entrusted with the secret of the Nightmare Lord's escape, becoming the Dream Keeper, and is protected by the Sandman for five years.

Dream Keeper gets dark and gets dark quickly.
Duell introduces us to Nora's peaceful world, but only for a little while. The Nightmare Lord finds Nora's whereabouts and will do anything to get her to release that dream so he can release his nightmares into her world. Nora finds her friends and family's safety compromised, with people connected to her meeting their death in all kinds of gruesome ways in their sleep. Dream Keeper gets dark within a few chapters and continues to bring that darkness throughout most of the book.

Engaging but predictable.
From the first page, Duell keeps us engaged in Nora's story, having something that will get us to turn the next page and finish the first installment. However, Dream Keeper is predictable. I found myself losing some enjoyment because I was always ahead of the characters by a step or so.

Didn't buy that relationship.
We have the beginning of a relationship with Nora and the Sandman going on, and I'm not buying it. Despite the two knowing each for five years, it feels out of place distracts from the plot of the story.

I still want to read the sequel.
Despite the predictability and the lack thereof relationship, I want to continue in Dark Consort, the sequel to Dream Keeper. I'm curious about Duell's plans for Nora and want to know more about what will happen next to the characters.

This review was originally posted on Bookwyrming Thoughts
Profile Image for Inga Lady Of Bookland.
286 reviews74 followers
March 6, 2020
WOW...I need a bit more time to put my thoughts together but what a ride this was. My review probably will be ready later today :)

Dream Keeper by Amber R. Duell was kindly provided by publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. So I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Dream Keeper was my first book by Amber R. Duell. I must say, she delivered an amazing dark YA fantasy romance that partly takes place in a real world, and in dream and nightmare realms with gruesome murders, scary nightmare creatures and a cute romance.

This unique story griped me from the very beginning and didn't let me go till the last page. The book was thrilling, dangerous, dark but beautiful and imaginative at the same time.

Dream Keeper was written in dual POV - told from Sandman's and Nora's sides, both of them were interesting and strong characters, also the villain of this story was intriguing. I enjoyed every aspect of this book - the plot, the writing, the world and characters. A great beginning to a new and exciting YA fantasy - The Dark Dreamer Trilogy, to which I'm giving 4.5 stars. I can’t wait to read the next book.
Profile Image for Tasha Leigh.
593 reviews12 followers
January 28, 2019
OK, so right now I am flailing at the thought of this not having another instalment until heavens know when. Flailing so hard that the flapping of my arms and gums could probably cool bystanders in this disgusting summer heat. I have already posted my appreciation to Instagram, Twitter, 3 different private messages and I'm pretty sure all neighbouring houses within a 1km radius from my residence know how much I love this novel by now.

It starts out with Nora meeting the Sandman in a dream at age 12. She is hellbent that he is real and protecting her from the things that go bump in the night. Her family on the other hand thinks she is a little cuckoo and have sent her to all the best doctors for psychoanalysis. Eventually she stopped speaking about him but every night she still meets him on his tranquil beach, ready to talk away the days woes.

It's sweet and innocent and a little saddening until a few chapters later when someones neck gets snapped and Ben appears! Ben is the resident hotty of the piece and is so cool and calm and covering in sparkly moon dust tattoos. Oh and did I mention Nora starts hearing creepy taunts from some shadowy weirdo when he show up? She's a 'Dreamer', a term has never heard and is fairly sure is part of her psychosis. Because like there could ever be a disembodied voice telling her how the man with the snapped neck died before anyone else ever knew right?

Anyway, the main character Ben and Nora are so very couple goals and smoosh and in any other life they would be all kissy faces and stolen moments. In this novel however, they kind of don't have time on account of all the people being murdered and some crazy guy named 'The Weaver' (sinister right?) trying to chase them down and steal a dream that was given to someone else because that's what you do when things need safekeeping.

Now The Weaver is basically this novel's equivalent of the Big Bad Witch. He's nasty, has a vendetta against The Sandman and is basically out for total world domination because he got locked away from the 'Day World' and banned from tormenting people for five years. He's such a happy chappy and more or less the King of Nightmares (if you want to cause people terror, why not be the best in your field). Honestly though, I imagined him like a younger, more svelte Hades from that Hercules movie. He is perfection when it comes to angered celestial beings.

Along the timeline of the story, Nora jumps between the Day World (waking world) and the Night World (the world of dreams). Duell provides a close to seamless transition between each and has just the right mix of both to incite a gradually increasing, slow burning fear for Sandman and Nora's lives.

Earlier I mentioned that this was not your usual tale of two teens. Going in I expected love and rainbows and forbidden romance. What I got was a sprinkling of this with a ton of gore and terror and death. I cringed at the graphic depiction of a girl KILLING HERSELF WITH A BALLPOINT PEN. It incited visions of that oh so kitschy scene with the pencil in the ankle from the Evil Dead and it was thoroughly enjoyable. There's eye gouging and tearing off of skin and I was completely in my own little gore filled paradise throughout.

Let me also say, that ending, while a little predictable, made me feel both sorry for Nora but also like she deserved it just a smidge because why would you ignore a celestial being? Like, really, are you that stupid! Her outfit became kick arse while her plight kind of sucked.

Here is where I should be discussing plot points and story pace and all those things that 'real reviewers' talk about. What you need to know is, I haven't been able to just sit and read a book cover to cover in a good six months. But it only took me 2 hours and 45 minutes to read this almost 300 page piece of amazing. Enough said.

All I can say is that this is an absolutely positively amazing novel that earns my first 5 star rating of the year. I'm picky and writing this straight after finishing and yelling at random people Shia LeBeouf style to just read it.

I received an advanced reading copy from Netgalley and the publisher Parliament House Press in exchange for an honest review. Any opnions contained within are that of the author and have in no way been influenced by the publisher or its affiliates
Profile Image for Carrie (brightbeautifulthings).
826 reviews30 followers
June 24, 2019
I received a free e-copy through NetGalley from the publishers at The Parliament House. Trigger warnings: death, parent death, suicide, torture, body horror, eye horror, self-harm, severe illness, heart attack, violence, blood, threats, mental illness, hospitals.

Every night, seventeen-year-old Nora visits the Sandman in her dreams. He’s her closest friend and best-guarded secret, since talk of the Sandman’s world when she was younger led to a series of doctors and psychiatric exams. But the Sandman has a secret too, and when Nora’s friends begin dying horrible, violent deaths in their sleep, she turns to him for answers. When Nora was younger, the Sandman hid something inside her mind, a dream that has the power to save the dreamworld or unleash its greatest enemy, the Weaver, who is intent on bringing his nightmares into the human world.

If a grown-up Rise of the Guardians met A Nightmare on Elm Street with a dose of teenage romance, you would have Dream Keeper. It’s been a while since I was so captivated by a fantasy world. While Duell’s real world is just like ours, her dream world is a well-constructed mix of whimsical dreams and gruesome nightmares. I wanted to spend more time in it, and I hope the next two novels will do more to explore its dark corners and expand on the rules of its magic. It probably goes without saying at this point that I’m on board for the rest of the series.

I was surprised by how violent the story is right from the beginning. The Weaver isn’t often on-page, but the effects of his nightmares are sudden and almost cinematic in their gore, and the body count rises quickly along with the stakes. I like Nora and the Sandman, but I don’t quite feel like their development comes as far as it could. Nora is a lot like most teenage heroines, and the Sandman like a lot of heroes; she’s brave but doubts herself, his primary character trait is wanting to protect her, and lack of communication is one of their biggest problems as a couple. However, I like that he never pushes decisions on her and lets her make her own choices, even if they pose a risk to her safety.

While the nightmare world itself is fascinating, the Weaver is slightly underdeveloped. (I definitely heard Pitch’s voice when he spoke, but that might be more because I love RotG than because he actually sounds like that.) We don’t really know his motivation for wanting to unleash nightmares on the human world (boredom, maybe?), and the balance between him and the Sandman is hinted at but never fully explained. The end is exciting and leaves off on a gripping plot twist, and I’m looking forward to seeing its consequences play out in the next books. It’s a dark, imaginative, and unusual read, recommended for YA fantasy readers who enjoy those things.

I review regularly at brightbeautifulthings.tumblr.com.
Profile Image for Tonja Drecker.
Author 3 books185 followers
December 7, 2018
A trip in Dreamland holds so much more than expected, especially when it comes to what lurks in the shadows.

Nora isn't sure whether she's crazy or not, but it doesn't matter. She needs to hide her vivid dreams and hallucinations no matter what, or it's back in therapy with her. Not to mention how badly her mom would take it. But the dreams aren't letting go. They're becoming more alluring than before, especially the stranger, the Sandman. When strange and horrible deaths begin occurring in real life right in front of her, and a dark voice awaits at every turn, Nora's sure she'd gone off the deep end. But reality is worse.

The premise in this book grabbed me in. To be caught up in a battle between dreams and nightmares, ones which open up in real life, is terrifying and a wonder at the same time. The Sandman enters reality with unexpected grace and normality, something which added to the story. The Nightmare Lord, on the other hand, holds his creep factor high by never fulling appearing outside of his horrible voice and chills of air. The real terror unfolds with the vivid death scenes, each more brutal than the last. The tension remains high and there's definitely tons of unexpected twists and turns. In other words, there's a lot to make this a read which is hard to put down.

While Sandman and the Nightmare Lord held a lovely magical atmosphere, there was a little lacking on the Sandman's side. Dreamland didn't hold any wonder, which was disappointing, and his power wasn't as startling as it could have been. But holding him back also made the romance end more believable. The author digs into his head instead of Nora's during a few chapters, which allows him to grab some depth. Depth was also missing in the background information concerning the Sandman and the Nightmare Lord. The battle between the two is fierce, and the threat of the Nightmare Lord is clear, but there is little behind the shared friendship beforehand as well as the moment it fell apart. More would have helped.

There are two amazing characters which sadly really make an appearance toward the end of the book. These two have more richness and possibility than the Nightmare Lord, and it will be fun to explore them in the upcoming books. I still wish they would have appeared earlier.

In any case, this is an engaging read which holds dark moments, cute romance, and a bit of mystery, and it opens up well for the rest of the series.

I received a complimentary copy and found this book entertaining enough to want to leave my honest thoughts.
Profile Image for Gerardo Delgadillo.
Author 4 books129 followers
June 6, 2019
Misters Sandman, bring me a dream…

You know how the famous song by The Chordettes goes.

But in DREAM KEEPER, dreams can turn into something else to put it mildly. For Nora, meeting with the Sandman in her lucid dreams is great, until the Nightmare Lord enters the scene. Then her life spirals out of control, as her friends die unexpectedly and other creepy things happen. Yikes!

So, because of that, this novel isn’t for the faint of heart, not that it’s super-dark or anything. The beautiful prose takes us places: Vivid descriptions, deep thoughts, and very engaging. Imagination is through the roof with a unique dream world.

The story is told from two points of view: The sandman, and Nora. To be honest, at first I liked Nora’s better, then I switched to the sandman, until I realized I loved both voices!

Overall, an engaging novel with beautiful prose that takes to a unique dream world, among other things.

More on my blog: https://gerardowrites.wordpress.com/2...
Profile Image for Amy.
756 reviews12 followers
January 7, 2019
This book is vividly full of nightmares that will make your skin crawl. I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked this book up, but descriptions that made me truly shudder was not one of them. This book propels readers into a world of dreams, somewhat reminiscent of Freddy Krueger, and just as chilling. While I enjoyed the premise and world building, I struggled to find a true connection with the characters. I was rooting for them for sure, but never truly felt as though I got to know them, which made plot points plod on at times and also built confused feelings surrounding some character choices. However, these slow paced moments coupled well with moments of exciting action. Overall, this was a very well written, young adult adventure that I am sure the targeted demographic will love.

*** A huge thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. ***
Profile Image for Amanda (MetalPhantasmReads).
471 reviews29 followers
October 31, 2018
*I received an ARC of this book for the Rockstar Book Tours blog tour for an honest review. My review is posted after the tour is over due to the tour's guidelines. All thoughts and opinions are my own and no quotations will be used*

Oh man I'm bummed that I didn't enjoy this as much as I thought :/ I just had a few things that were annoying, overly dramatic and just not what I had hoped. A review will be posted on November 5 on the blog and the link will be here once the review is live.
Profile Image for booklover.
394 reviews
January 3, 2019
I received this book from Netgalley. It was well-written and very readable, but the combination of juvenile language and the extreme death depicted as well as other adult themes was a little confusing when put together as it made it hard to work out who this was aimed at. I guessed the ending about halfway through and didn’t really grow attached to any of the characters. It had the promise of my sort of book, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would.
Profile Image for Maca.
176 reviews38 followers
February 17, 2019
It was quite good, but I was expecting more 😕🤷🏻‍♀️

Profile Image for Bethany.
Author 22 books93 followers
April 8, 2019
For five years, Nora has been dreaming about the Sandman. After being told she's crazy, she finds it hard to believe whether or not the Sandman is real. When people start drying, Nora starts hearing whispers about a Dream Keeper from the Weaver, the lord of Nightmares. She keeps telling herself it isn't real, but it's harder to deny when she catches Ben, a new coworker, talking back to the whispers. There's something familiar about Ben and Nora finds herself drawn to him.

When Nora learns that she's a Dream Keeper, she realizes she can't sit idly by while the people around her suffer. After her sister is taken, a line is drawn. Nora must rely on the Sandman's help to get her back and she can no longer deny his presence or her feelings. But how does one fight against the Weaver, the ruler of nightmares?

After reading the blurb, I knew I had to read this book. I love books about the Sandman, especially when he's the love interest. The mysteriousness behind the Sandman had me drawn in and made this book an easy page-turner. DREAM KEEPER is fast-paced, enchanting, horrifying, and a book I couldn't put down. The deaths are graphic, so warning for those who are scared easily. The ending is so epic and left me dying for the second installment.

Final Verdict: I would recommend this to fans of The Sandman, Rise of the Guardians (yes, the movie ;) but a darker version of it), Dream worlds, dark fantasy, romance, and horror.
Profile Image for Jessica.
109 reviews1 follower
March 27, 2020
When I started this one I wasn't to sure what I was going to get. I have to say that I really love the cover but not after reading the title, I kind of wished they would have done something else with it. For me I would have loved to see the sands of the beach and then Nora standing facing the darkness in the horizon with a sword at her side glowing red. It would give us a lot of detail from the story and really make you understand how kick butt Nora is!! But alas that is not the cover that we got.

The story kicks off with us learning that Nora has seen the Sandman since she was 12 and she used to tell her family about him. Only to be put on meds and having to see doctors etc. So she learned quickly to keep him to herself. After reading that I thought this was going to turn into a title where Nora ends up in the loony-bin. Which I am really glad that didn't happen. That loony-bin troupe is so overdone. So what did we get in this one? Well let me tell you!!!

This story was one that I won't soon forget! It was the perfect blend of contemporary and fantasy and I fell so hard for Nora and the Sandman!! The writing was simple but descriptive and although I do believe that this was geared toward a slightly younger audience I loved the simplicity of the writing. It was very easy to read and follow which was a nice change. As the story unfolds we learn that Nora isn't a damsel in destress! She could hold her own and she was out to save her family and the world.

The dual POV worked out very well as we learned more about the world from both Nora and the Sandman. With the Waking World and the World of Dreams and Nightmares. I have to say that the world building in this one was all about the otherworld and the author did a fabulous job bringing it to life. Towards the end of this story the World of Nightmares really reminded me a lot of Wonderland.

The ending of this one ended in a way that it turned me on my head and killed me. I didn't see it coming at all. And I need book two NOW!!

Overall, this one was pretty perfect in my eyes. I loved every aspect of the story and the characters. I flew through it in just over 3 hours and I could not put it down!

This book in three words: True Love, Dreams, Hope
Favorite Quotes:

"The sandman was my anchor, holding me firm when life tried to wash me out to sea. Without him....I swallowed hard. Without him I would be a ship without sails."

"Wasn't there some sort of sister code about this stuff? Her baby pictures were so coming out the next time Jen came over for dinner, especially the one where she decided to go streaking down out street when she was two.

"You had me steal nightmares?" My jaw hung open, and I lightly punched his shoulder. "Are you crazy? Why would you let me do that?"

"I'll never be able to break your heart without breaking my own."
Profile Image for queen0f_hearts.
123 reviews19 followers
October 23, 2018

Before I start: By Parliament Press, I was provided a free copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

How do I put it? This book was quite meh. Of course, it was entertaining and worth reading to some degree but I think it could have been so much more! The premise of the book, especially the Sandman lured me and I felt so very intrigued to read this story. I expected him to be a mysterious character in a magical world. I wanted all the impossible, I mean, it’s the Dream World! But what did I get?

The great advantage of this first installment in the trilogy was the love between Nora and the Sandman. It was overly cute and considering their distanced worlds, him being immortal and all that drama, it really was what I like to read about love stories. On the other hand, if I want a love story, I’ll go read Jane Austen, or re-read To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. I got my hands on Dream Keeper because of the fantasy and the magic. And exactly this is where I feel let down..., sadly.

The magic, of course, was there but ooooh, we’re in the Dream World! Where is the dream palace with Prince Charming and his white mount? Where are the unicorns and the faeries? Where’s my secret spot in which I always feel happy? Where is the area in which my fictional family is real? I think you get me? To my mind, the Dream World should be so much more than a beach. The same goes for the Nightmare Realm. I felt disappointed in the world building which actually wasn’t a serious world building at all but a series of different locations. Even the Weaver’s Keep was so very devoid of imagination! Darn it, he’s the WEAVER, LORD OF NIGHTMARES, THE MOST POWERFUL and he settles with weaving in such a ...den? He actually seemed at least a bit prouder than to be satisfied by such a place.

And just like their territories, the Sandman and the Weaver were quite lame character as well. The Weaver was the evil counterpart of the Sandman but though he didn’t hold back from killing innocents and though his simple aim was to expand his power and territory, he lacked character depth. There definitely was room for it if the author had told us more about his inner struggles, considering he and the Sandman were friends once, until he was deceived by exactly this friend. I think there should have been more emphasis on this part of their shared past, and also more explanation and details. It was sort of the same with the Sandman. Since some of the chapters were told from his point of view, it was easier to understand what’s going on inside of him. But for the most part, I still felt left out. There was a great deal of feelings and thoughts regarding Nora and I really appreciated those but his connection to the Weaver should have been played out in an at least almost equal way. I seriously missed the real, dramatic, drastic emotions which makes the characters appear more realistic, so I as reader can feel with them, can bond with them. Unfortunately, though I wanted to, though I was ready, it didn’t happen and this makes me sad because I’m sure, both could have been so great characters. They actually ARE great character! I like their designs and their magic but I wished so much, I were able to link with them...

In contrast to those two, there was quite a lot about Nora which shouldn’t surprise anyone as she’s the main protagonist. At first she literally drove me nuts. All her questioning herself and her sanity, it soon felt too much for me and I began to dislike her. This is no real complaint about her though, as it’s just my personal taste to prefer strong, determined and independent women instead of whiny ones. The story went on and I actually was reading it for scenes with the Sandman...and there honestly were pretty many which made me squeal. Then chapter 8 came and I felt disgusted by the bloody scenery. (IN ALL SINCERITY, READ THE TRIGGER WARNING OF THIS BOOK! It’s only that one chapter which crept me out...but well, it did it gloriously.) Anyways, soon my opinions changed and as I’ve already written, the way I felt my interest in the Sandman fade away, I found myself rooting more and more for Nora. Her character development throughout the book was amazing and I couldn’t be prouder of her. Considering the very end of this first installment in the trilogy, I’m curiously what will come of her in the sequel.

Talking about the end without giving spoilers away: Was this unexpected? I really really really can’t tell and this annoys me. I mean, I knew something was off. Every blind person would have seen it..... buuuut... I feel way to reminded in Pirates of the Caribbean and in Davy Jones to be 100% surprised and blown away.

Last but not least, let me focus on the actual gems of Dream Keeper: Rowan and Kail!!!! I loved them!! I loved them so much!! Like woah, I really loved them!! They were everything I could ask for! Firstly, their designs were breath-taking and I admired them more than the Sandman, the Weaver and both their realms put together. Their little castle-thingy caused goose bumps on my skin (especially the spiders); I was glad I wasn’t the one to explore their home but it entertained me to observe Nora do it. Finally, Rowan and Kail were perfection! Can one trust them? Absolutely not! Do I like them? Yes! Very much so! If the entire book, or trilogy happened to be about them, so let it be! They were fascinating and obviously plotted something and hopefully more than I think to understand by the end of this book. What were their true intentions? One can’t know. What is their connection, their relationship? I have no clue. This is the kind of intrigue I seek when reading a book. Characters that captivate me. Unfortunately, they didn’t get much screen time but without a doubt, the chapters which contained these two were my favorite parts.

To conclude my review, though there were characters I loved, this book wasn’t more than average and I don’t feel as if I would have missed anything extraordinary if I hadn’t picked Dream Keeper up. About reading the sequel, I can’t decide it yet. It depends on what it’ll be about. Give me the blurb, I’ll let you know. That’s all I can say for now.

Profile Image for Jessica Julien.
Author 11 books58 followers
October 28, 2018
This book blew me away! I was addicted to it from the very first chapter and had a hard time putting it down. Duell does an exceptional job pulling the reader into the world of Dreams and introduces us to a darker concept of the night world where nightmares seep into reality. Her take on the Sandman is brilliant and I loved every second of it.

The characters are very relatable and unique--they each have their own personalities that lead the story and with a little bit of romance, it makes the story well rounded. I loved the relationship between the main character and the Sandman and how their story develops throughout the novel.

One thing that I was shocked (in a good way) about was the amount of blood and gore. It actually wasn't too bad, but I was NOT expecting it yet I LOVED the darkness Duell pulls into the novel making it feel real, twisted, and horribly sublime.

I highly recommend this novel and I can not wait until the next one is released ... Please Amber, might I have some more!?!
Profile Image for Sofiraindrop.
316 reviews29 followers
April 6, 2019
*I received a copy in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley*
Ever wondered what Freddy Krueger might feel? Or if someone would love him?
Well, in Dream Keeper, we get to know what I would call his "cute little brother", the Sandman, who to my surprise, isn't evil at all.
It actually was a cool idea to begin with, and I really felt bad for Nora, especially as the book evolves, but sadly there was loads left unexplored. I really hope the next one gets better!
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