Home > fiction, I read it all, novel, recommended > Dreaming of Deliverance: R E Chambliss

Dreaming of Deliverance: R E Chambliss

August 17, 2011

Five years ago when Lindsay Paulson, a naive college student and talented distance runner, was 18, she was convicted of drug smuggling. Now, halfway through a 10-year prison sentence, she begins having what seem to be dreams, in which she leaves her cell in the night and visits another reality called Trae. Dreaming of Deliverance tells of Lindsay’s experiences both in Trae, where she finds herself among people enslaved by terrifying creatures, and in prison where she tries to make sense of what’s happening in her sleep: Is she actually escaping from prison somehow or is she losing her mind?

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When I review books for this blog I don’t often set my notes aside and read the book purely for enjoyment: but that’s what I did with Dreaming of Deliverance, and I’m very pleased that I did.

Ms Chambliss has a very fluid, readable style; I read all five hundred and fifty-four pages of this book in one day, and thoroughly enjoyed it. The typos I found were so minor that they didn’t intrude upon my enjoyment of the story; and I was genuinely sad when I reached the end and had to say goodbye to all of the characters I had come to know.

However (you knew there’d be a “however”, right?), despite my general enthusiasm I do have criticisms: and they mostly focus on the book’s plot and structure.

First off, it’s much too long. It could easily be cut by 20 to 30% without losing any of the plot, and that would improve the already-good pace no end.

There are too many instances where an important issue is mentioned just before it becomes necessary to the plot: for example, the news that Parl had gold deposits, and that Joel could disable the Loche (the terrifying creatures mentioned in the book’s back cover copy above) if he needed to. These things (there were several others) should have been built more firmly into the plot so that the reader could better appreciate the costs involved when such skills had to be used. The reader wasn’t let into the world of the Loche enough, so it was difficult to empathise with them and so understand more fully why they did what they did; and no explanation was ever given for how Lindsay ended up in Trae in the first place, or why she returned to her own world each time she slept.

The storyline involving the prison was unsatisfying: the prison was little more than a box to keep Lindsay and when she wasn’t visiting Trae and a lot more could have been done with this part of the book: I wanted to see some real resolution here, some more tension; and for events on each side of the story to directly affect the other.

In all, then, the good, enjoyable read which could have been even better had the writer improved the plot, made full use of the situations she created, edited far more ruthlessly and thought more carefully about pace and tension. I believe this is a first novel (I might be wrong): if it is then Ms Chambliss has done remarkably well and I look forward to watching her work improve over the years.

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  1. August 17, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    I’m trying to imagine the ability to read a 500+ pager in a day. My eyes would bleed and my head implode. I raise my coffee cup to Jane, and offer kudos to RE Chambliss for earning the coveted “read it all, recommended” from a very tough critic. I too have a weak spot for women in prison stories.

  2. August 17, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    I’ve gone ahead and sent a sample to my Kindle. This sounds like a book that could’ve used an editor to go from good to great, but I’ve read a lot of merely good books in my life that were certainly worth the time invested.

  3. August 18, 2011 at 3:05 am

    I wondered if you ever finished any of the self-published works. Glad to know you do!

  4. August 18, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    Hurray! Kudos to the author for putting out a good book amidst a sea of questionable ones.

  5. August 20, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    Thank you so much for such a thoughtful review. I’m glad you enjoyed Dreaming of Deliverance and that your reservations didn’t detract too much. Dreaming of Deliverance is my first novel and I did not have an editor. Believe it or not, I tried hard to hone it down because I knew it’s length would make it tough to sell to publishers, well that and that it doesn’t fit neatly into a genre. This was as short as I could make it, and I thought I was being a ruthless slasher! Apparently not. 🙂 Your observation about the plot elements being introduced too late, is really helpful. I’ll keep that in mind in my future stories.

    Thanks again!

    -R.E. Chambliss
    REChambliss.com

  6. Jane Smith
    August 26, 2011 at 8:50 am

    Jim, this was a quick and easy read because it’s written in a fluent, accessible style. So reading it in such a short space of time wasn’t a difficult thing.

    And Renee, you’re welcome. You did a good job with this book. For the next one, consider reading up a bit on editing techniques and learning how and why to edit: it’ll make all the difference to your work. I’m glad to have been able to help you.

  1. August 21, 2011 at 1:19 am
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