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The Lost History of Dreams

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  1,439 ratings  ·  302 reviews
A post-mortem photographer unearths dark secrets of the past that may hold the key to his future, in this captivating debut novel in the gothic tradition of Wuthering Heights and The Thirteenth Tale.

All love stories are ghost stories in disguise.

When famed Byronesque poet Hugh de Bonne is discovered dead of a heart attack in his bath one morning, his cousin Robert Highstea
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published April 9th 2019 by Atria Books
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The Lost History of Dreams by Kris Waldherr is a 2019 Touchstone Books publication.

A mesmerizing traditional Gothic tale replete with ghosts and a few stunning twists that will keep you turning pages long past your bedtime!

All love stories are ghost stories in disguise

Robert Highstead, a former historian turned post -mortem photographer, is still struggling with the premature death of his wife, Sida. His daguerreotype photos bring comfort to others, and is in an odd way, a cathartic occupation
Kate Quinn
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Updated with my cover quote:

"Wuthering Heights" meets "Penny Dreadful" in Kris Waldherr's LOST HISTORY OF DREAMS, a dark Victorian epic of obsessive love, thwarted genius, and ghostly visitations. When Byronic poet Hugh de Bonne dies mysteriously, post-mortem photographer Robert Highstead is propelled into a dark quest to fulfill the poet's dying wish and reunite two long-dead lovers. Still locked in obsessive grief for his own lost wife, Robert must confront his own demons as well as Hugh's if
Diana | Book of Secrets
3.5 Stars → Any novel described as "in the gothic tradition of Wuthering Heights" is a must-read for me. So many elements of THE LOST HISTORY OF DREAMS grabbed me from the beginning. Set in Victorian England, this is a book within a book, that tells of two tragic love stories and the mystery surrounding a glass chapel hidden in the eerie woods.

Robert Highstead, a widowed post-mortem photographer, is called upon to photograph his deceased cousin, the poet Hugh de Bonne. The glass chapel holds th
Heather Webb
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had the good fortune of reading an early copy of The Lost History of Dreams. In this accomplished debut, Kris Waldherr transports the reader to the fascinating world of Victorian England and its tradition of post-mortem photography with a deft hand. An atmospheric tale of lost love, family secrets, and an inquiry into how our own histories define us, I relished every poetic page. Mesmerizing, lyrical, and deliciously brooding, The Lost History of Dreams is a terrific contribution to Gothic lit ...more
Katherine Riley
Sep 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Lost History of Dreams is historical fiction. It is also a delicate nesting of two love stories. It is a slim volume of romantic poetry. It is a gothic mystery. It is even, arguably, a scholarly investigation of such varied topics as Ovid, daguerreotyping, stained glass, and ornithology. The prose is exquisite, the characters compelling, and the rendering of Victorian England feels deliciously exact. Waldherr has created here something very lovely and unique.
Aga Durka
Apr 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 Mesmerizing Stars.

A tragic love story set in Victorian England that will pull you in with its atmospheric and unique setting. I loved the gothic, dark, and eerie feel of this novel, and the paranormal theme added just enough spice to make this family mystery a compelling and fascinating read. I highly recommend this book to anyone that enjoys reading gothic literature where the use of symbolism is masterfully intertwined in the story.

Thank you NetGalley, Atria Books, and the author, Kris Waldh
Julianne Douglas
In an early chapter of Kris Waldherr's debut novel, THE LOST HISTORY OF DREAMS (Atria, April 2019), protagonist Robert Highstead, a frustrated writer turned post-mortem daguerrotypist, can hardly contain his excitement at opening an unfamiliar book. "Books were easy, unlike people," the narrator reveals, mirroring Robert's thoughts. "Writing them, however, was another matter."

If writing this remarkable novel was difficult for Walherr, she has deftly disguised the strain. From its unique premise
Sep 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love stories are ghost stories in disguise.

Kris Waldherr’s THE LOST HISTORY OF DREAMS is a lush fever dream of a book. From its first pages there is a sense of disconnection from the mundane world. Robert Highstead, daguerreotypist of the dead, has severed all ties to anything and anyone that might stand between him and his love. Forced to perform a grim and unpleasant errand, Robert will ultimately have to confront his past and everything he holds dear.

Waldherr expertly establishes the threads
Megan Collins
Nov 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was exquisite. The setting was eerie and beautiful, the prose was gorgeous, and the characters were as haunting as they were haunted. The entire story was richly compelling, but the last 100 pages had me basically speed-reading, eager to find out all these characters' secrets. The twists were surprising, satisfying and, at times, even moving.

As someone who's passionate about classical mythology, when I learned that this was an Orpheus and Eurydice reimagining, I was so excited--and th
The Lit Bitch
Apr 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

This book has been on my radar for months. I basically stalked the authors Twitter page waiting to see when there would be ARC’s available and hoping that I would get picked to be an early reader!

To say that this book has my name written all over it is an understatement. I love all things Victorian and Gothic and this book couldn’t have been more intriguing to me if it tried. It had everything I was looking for in a great Gothic read.

I was beyond thrilled to get picked as an early reade
Sep 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With a tag line like “every love story is a ghost story,” I expected THE LOST HISTORY OF DREAMS to be haunting, but I was still not prepared to be sucked in to the rich underworld through which Kris Waldherr’s wraithlike characters flicker. Like Orpheus, be prepared to look back and wonder what is real and what is fantastic. With tales nested in tales told by narrators of varying reliability, TLHOD will keep you guessing until the last riveting page. Waldherr’s storytelling will grip you and lea ...more
Mar 27, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
DNF @ 15%

Unfortunately, I am throwing in the towel on this one. I am having the hardest time connecting with the writing style; which is a shame because this type of story is one that would typically be right up my alley.

Given all of the 5 star reviews, I would highly encourage you to give this one a try. This is simply a case of "it's not you, it's me".

Thank you to Simon & Schuster for my reading copy via Edelweiss
Nancy Bilyeau
Mar 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this book darkly magical. If you like literary writing, eerie atmosphere, complex characters, and Victorian-era sensuality, you will adore this book. I'm a sucker for a ghostly house of secrets and broken hearts when the writing is top notch! ...more
Jessica Woodbury
A gothic novel with daguerrotypes of the dead, two tragic love stories, romantic poetry, and a couple ghosts for good measure. Quite readable, I finished it in just two sittings. If you like the kind of book where one character promises to tell a story over five nights, this is a book that will make you happy.

While it's quite successful, ultimately I think there may be one too many pieces in this puzzle. It definitely keeps the plot moving forward with a few different mysterious threads to pull
Andrea Bartz
Sep 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this eerie and atmospheric debut! I read an ARC, and the rich prose and beautifully drawn characters totally transported me to the 19th Century. It follows Robert Highstead, who makes daguerrotypes of the dead and whose existence from the start somehow straddles the world of the living and the dead. He's forced to confront his dark past, and what unfolds feels like a Russian nesting doll of storytelling and imagination. If you like carefully researched, poetically written books that feel ...more
Mary Sharratt
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Kris Waldherr’s THE LOST HISTORY OF DREAMS is an exquisitely crafted literary gothic. With its labyrinthine twists and turns, it evokes the dark mysteries of the classic Victorian ghost story in all its brooding, atmospheric glory. A riveting, addictive read. Sarah Waters fans will be entranced.

Dec 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kris Wadherr's forthcoming novel kept me on edge, wanting to learn the secrets of Hugh de Bonne and his beloved Ada. This riveting novel expertly dances on the line between reality and fantasy, blurring distinctions so that anything seems possible. A terrific book! ...more
Julia Phillips
Oct 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a rich, precise world Kris Waldherr has created here – what an astounding accomplishment!
K.A. Doore
Nov 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-reads
Well, Waldherr wasn't fucking kidding about the ghosts.

The Lost History of Dreams is haunting in nearly every aspect of the word. The ghosts live in the pages, breathing between the words, and the story lingers well beyond the last page. At its core, this is a story about love, but it's a story told through generations, decades, and layers of lies. It's the story of a famed poet and the people who loved him and came to understand him, if not forgive. It's the story of a widower, who clings to de
Bookish Ally
If you’re looking for a mawkish melodrama trying it’s best to be gothic, this book is for you. It has a couple of intimate scenes that had me cringing, I do see others appreciation of it, and if I could edit about half of it completely out, it could be readable. The idea behind the book is good but this was a miss for me.
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
...he had the sense of viewing a man's life reduced to words. Black ink on white paper. Sentence after sentence. The grey minutia of daily routine flashed with occasional color...

A nearly perfect read: a snaky plot and thorny characters nestled in compelling narrative and deeply resonant themes. All love stories are ghost stories, we'll read more than once in this book, but this novel is more than a love story, more than a ghost story. It's an imagining of the life of a literary genius (I was re
Jun 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
_The Lost History of Dreams_ plunges the reader into a sumptuous feast for all the senses. It begins with a relatively simple task for post-mortem photographer Robert Highstead: he must transport his dead cousin’s remains for burial in a chapel on the moors of Shropshire. However, his journey gradually builds into a gorgeous gothic nightmare reminiscent of pre-Raphaelite paintings and dark Victorian novels. Isabelle, the enigmatic woman who holds the key (both literally and figuratively) to the ...more
Erin Bartels
Jan 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This brooding, atmospheric story within a story is reminiscent of Wuthering Heights and The Thirteenth Tale. From the smoke-filled streets of London to the snow-filled hollows of the Black Forest, from sunny France to cloudy England, from city to country to hotel to stained-glass chapel, every step along the way is fraught with deep meaning and, very often, deception. Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys Poe, Byron, or Brontë. Looking forward to Kris Waldherr's next one. ...more
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book feels like it could be a centuries-old literary classic rediscovered after years of obscurity, but at the same time it’s thoroughly fresh and modern. I was completely captivated by the gorgeous writing and Gothic atmosphere, and the central mystery kept me guessing until the final chapter. Kris Waldherr is a masterful storyteller and I look forward to reading more of her work in the future!
Erica Boyce
Nov 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It felt like I was holding my breath through the entirety of this book! Waldherr does an excellent job of building suspense, twists, and turns, and it wasn't long before I had a hard time putting THE LOST HISTORY OF DREAMS down. She does a beautiful job of painting a detailed world with nuanced characters and fascinating backstories. The ending was perfect and wonderfully satisfying. ...more
Diane McPhail
Mar 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kris Waldherr has achieved in her debut novel much that veteran writers still strive for. This book is many things at once. It is a gothic mystery, a layering of story within story, a complex interweaving of character and plot, and a ghost story unlike most. It is complete with a Victorian volume of epic poetry with a cult following, built with reference to Ovid. Relationships between and among characters, living and dead, revolve around a magnificent stained glass chapel secreted in the forest ...more
Feb 14, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc-netgalley
I received this from in exchange for a review.

Robert's wife died three years ago and to cope with the grief, he became interested in taking photos of the dead. Then he is called upon to take a picture of his cousin and also make sure he is buried with his already dead wife, Ada. However, Ada’s grief-stricken niece refuses to open the glass chapel for Robert unless he agrees to her bargain.

An okay gothic story. The atmosphere was good but at about the half-way point, it really began
James Charlesworth
Gorgeously atmospheric, full of hauntingly beautiful prose and complexly interwoven storylines, The Lost History of Dreams conveys from its opening pages that not everything in the world of this novel is what it seems. What follows is a masterful juggling act of truth and invention and delusion, full of layered stories within stories, hidden identities, and unreliable narrators—along with a healthy dose of the supernatural and a gothic Victorian sensibility. It’s a thrilling ride, yes. But what ...more
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: from-author
Set in Victorian England this is a gothic tale with two story plots. You learn about post-mortem photography,stained glass windows and a mystery that compelled me with all of the twists. The characters, the darkness and the ghostly creepiness in this tale of love and loss is a true gothic classic. Lyrical and poetic. A stunning debut.
Novels N Latte Blog
Hudson Valley NY
"All love stories are ghost stories."

If you love gothic fiction and historical fiction, you want to read this book. This is one of the best books I've read this year (so far I've read 147 books this year and gave five stars to 32 of them).

Set in Victorian England, all the elements for a good gothic fiction are here: the death of a poet, Hugh de Bonne, whose last book title was The Lost History of Dreams. An abandoned glass chapel built by the poet when his wife, Ada, died. A historian, Robert Hi
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Kris Waldherr is an award-winning author and illustrator whose books for adults and children include Bad Princess, Doomed Queens, and The Book of Goddesses. The New Yorker praised Doomed Queens as “utterly satisfying” and “deliciously perverse.” The Book of Goddesses was a One Spirit/Book-of-the-Month Club’s Top Ten Most Popular Book. Her picture book Persephone and the Pomegranate was noted by th ...more

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