Review: “The Anatomy of Dreams” by Chloe Benjamin

Disclosure: This book was provided to me by NetGalley free of charge in return for an honest and unbiased review. This book is scheduled to be released on September 16, 2014 by Atria Books.

My first impression of “The Anatomy of Dreams” is that it reads similar to all of the Gothic Fiction I was so taken with in college.  It’s a beautifully written, highly atmospheric novel, which is essentially a coming of age tale that unfolds within a psychological thriller.  I use that term lightly, however, since everything Benjamin does in “The Anatomy of Dreams” is subtle.

Written from the perspective of Sylvia, the novel begins in her youth – a time spent away from her parents and within the confines of a boarding school in Northern California.  This is where she meets Gabe, a charismatic and lively fellow student, and Dr. Adrian Keller, their mysterious, somewhat reclusive headmaster.  It doesn’t take long before Gabe and Sylvie’s lives become completely entwined, not only with each other, but with Dr. Keller and his questionable, potentially unethical research of dreams.

I enjoyed “The Anatomy of Dreams”.  Much of the novel reads like a dream itself.  It is this quality, however, that is also one of the book’s drawbacks.  Within is a story that relies heavily on relationships and trust – between loved ones, colleagues, friends, etc. – but the characters feel so distant from one another (we’re talking little to no chemistry).  Whether this is the result of the dreamy undercurrent of the novel or a failing  on Benjamin’s part to fully flesh out the characters, I cannot say.

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