The States

Norah Woodsey

Publisher: Norah Woodsey Pages: 364 Price: (paperback) $9.99 ISBN: 9798988445708 Reviewed: January, 2024 Author Website: Visit »

Blending science fiction and romance, author Norah Woodsey offers an intriguing premise: Can dreams guide reality?

Set in the near future, the story focuses on Matilda (Tildy) Sullivan. Plain compared to her beautiful sisters, she has never fit in well with her family or her millionaire father Patrick, whose once-successful cosmetics company is struggling.

During her childhood, she and her mother spent summers in Galway, Ireland, at her grandmother’s seaside cottage. Now that her mother has passed away and Nana is in a care facility, Tildy holds company stock and power of attorney over her grandmother’s property. Plagued by debt, Patrick wants both.

Hoping to live independently, Tildy works as a data scientist but is unhappy. She enrolls in a “lucid dreaming” experiment, donning a cap made of wires. It induces a dream state in which she visualizes relocating to Galway and reconnecting with her first love Aidan, a Galway boy she broke up with at 17 to return to New York.

Meanwhile, in real life, she meets an attractive man in a NYC art gallery; later, she realizes he’s Jude Mills, whose father was framed by Patrick for a company scandal. Jude has vowed revenge, and Tildy is suspicious of his interest. Spurred by her dream-state, which she continues to invoke, Tildy flies to Galway hoping to start over.

Woodsey’s futuristic elements—the dream machine and an Alexa-style AI named Russell who mothers Tildy—are fascinating, and the book is filled with Irish Gaelic phrases and culture that will appeal to readers interested in the region.

The romance element, however, often feels overwrought: (“She wanted to scream…at the memories… feed[ing] her heart only anguish and misery, until it would accept nothing else.”), and the protagonist seems emotionally clueless and immature regarding love. Additionally, some elements are hard to believe; for example, Aidan runs a Michelin-starred restaurant at the unlikely age of 25.

This is an uneven offering. Still, those willing to persevere will find some rewards in this story.

Also available as an ebook.

Author's Current Residence
Lafayette, California
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