Five Souls in a Dream combines a romantic fantasy plot with relationship advice and stunningly beautiful illustrations.
Semi-retired handyman Sam lives a content but unremarkable life until one night when he experiences a vivid dream that changes him forever. In his sleep, Sam enters a fairy tale-like land he dubs the “World of Souls” and lives an entire lifetime in a single night among magical beings known as “Souls.” Throughout his life in this mystical world, Sam encounters and enters into relationships with five souls, each one teaching him the ups and downs of romantic love. But the World of Souls is so ideal that he might not want to return to the waking world and impart the lessons he has learned to his real-life relationships.
This interesting premise sets the story apart from regular self-help books. Useful lessons on various types of romantic relationships, particularly when to stay in a relationship and when to move on, are taught through a flowing, dream-like narrative structure.
As helpful as these lessons are, however, focusing on them makes the book dialogue heavy and lacking in other important areas. There is almost no description of what the World of Souls or the protagonists look like, which prevents readers from becoming absorbed in the story’s fictional world. The book skims over other important details, as well. For instance, characters’ personalities and their relationships to each other are briefly explained rather than shown through the characters’ actions. We are told basic details about Sam, such as his profession and family, but otherwise we learn nothing about his personality or character. This makes the supposedly inspirational characters and their relationships difficult to believe in or relate to.
Readers of self-help books looking for something different may enjoy this book and the illustrations by Christiane Walegren. However, general romance or fantasy readers who prefer engrossing stories and well-rounded characters will be better off reading straight-up fiction.