In my Dreams I Hold a Knife by Ashley Winstead

Themes: Murder mystery, dark academia

The synopsis

A college reunion turns dark and deadly in this chilling and propulsive suspense novel about six friends, one unsolved murder, and the dark secrets they’ve been hiding from each other—and themselves—for a decade.

Ten years after graduation, Jessica Miller has planned her triumphant return to southern, elite Duquette University, down to the envious whispers that are sure to follow in her wake. Everyone is going to see the girl she wants them to see—confident, beautiful, indifferent—not the girl she was when she left campus, back when Heather’s murder fractured everything, including the tight bond linking the six friends she’d been closest to since freshman year. Ten years ago, everything fell apart, including the dreams she worked for her whole life—and her relationship with the one person she wasn’t supposed to love.

But not everyone is ready to move on. Not everyone left Duquette ten years ago, and not everyone can let Heather’s murder go unsolved. Someone is determined to trap the real killer, to make the guilty pay. When the six friends are reunited, they will be forced to confront what happened that night—and the years’ worth of secrets each of them would do anything to keep hidden.

The review

This book was the one to pick if you’re looking for a dark academia murder mystery.

To be honest, I didn’t find a single default in the story, the setting or the characters, which makes this book one of the best I’ve read in this genre! It has a very good pace, a bit slow at first for the reader to get acquainted with the plot and the different characters and then increasingly fast according to the tense atmosphere and the high stakes of the plot. This one was complex, I think it is difficult to guess the culprit and the motivations are both complicated and human. And the author wasn’t lazy either when writing her characters, who represent all the intricacies of human nature with the good, the bad and the in-between.

This complexity in the characters is even felt with the narrator, who isn’t an enjoyable one. She’s quite nasty, extremely selfish, jealous and unable to take the right decisions for the people she loves and loves her back. But I think that most of all, the reader can’t like her because she’s a bit too similar to us, a being with qualities but also a lot of default, and so she’s showing us things we would rather forget about us.

The last point I’d like to mention is about the ecosystem around the mystery, which is giving it more depth by showing how the system can lead to unhappiness and in this case to extreme situations. Despite my dislike for her, the narrator is the perfect example of how hard it is to fit in an environment made exclusively for people with money and it can lead to change you because of envy and jealousy. This is also why I couldn’t entirely hate her because after all human is a social being and it is absolutely normal to want to be part of a community, no matter the cost. But the characters also show us that we never truly know people and what is going on behind closed doors, which is why jealousy can be meaningless. Finally, this story was denouncing the all educational system, from the pressure some parents are putting on their children to how money can buy anything, with despicable beings taking advantage of innocent persons trapped in these inequalities.

In brief: This book was perfect for October and was a very good murder mystery while going beyond it.

My rating: 5/5


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