REVIEW: The Dream Engine – Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant

‘Crazy’ is just a word for what happens when you start to believe.

Eila Doyle is a Builder. Every day she goes to work at the Ministry of Manifestation, plugs herself into the giant machine of manifestation known as the Blunderbuss, and Builds; working with other Builders to create everything needed to keep the citizens of Waldron’s Gate alive.

She creates, she manifests, she dreams. Except she’s not dreaming, because people in Waldron’s Gate don’t dream. Dreams are a sign of madness, anyone who dreams ends up in Joffrey Columns, asylum for the insane.

But when Eila starts having dark and disturbing visions of impossible creatures, terrifying demons, and a dark-haired boy named Levi, she soon discovers that not everything is at it seems and that perhaps going crazy isn’t so crazy after all.


The Dream Engine was the creation of Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant after a 30-day writing challenge known as Fiction Unboxed. The challenge was “simple”: they had thirty days to create, write, and publish an entire novel, all the time sharing their experience with the world through videos, webchats, transcripts and recordings, and, while I admire the dedication it takes to achieve something like this, unfortunately the lack of time they had to write this book definitely shows.

The idea is a clever one, almost like a steampunk version of Inception if you will, but the story soon gets lost in the complexity of itself, and it all just becomes very confusing. About a third of this book is solely an explanation of the concepts of Building, how the Blunderbuss works, how Manifestation works, and yet, even after all that, I still didn’t come away from this book fully understanding it all. In fact, there were many occasions when I just gave up trying to understand how it all worked, because it was far too convoluted for it’s own good.

While I do admire Platt and Truant for attempting what was essentially a high-stakes game of NaNoWriMo, such a complex idea really would’ve benefitted from more planning and a longer writing period.

That said, there are positives to this book. I particularly loved reading about Eila’s first dream; it was a wonderfully written chapter that fully reflected the dynamics of dreaming and how weird, wonderful and terrifying they can be. If the rest of the book had been written as well as that chapter, I would’ve enjoyed this book a whole lot more.

Overall, a clever idea that is let down by the way in which it was conceived.

2.5 / 5

I received this book via NetGalley in return for an honest review.


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