Review | She Dreams in Blood – Michael R. Fletcher

About the Book

Drawn by the shards of his obsidian heart, Khraen follows the path south. The islands, largely ignored by the Wizard’s Guild, have become a refuge for the unwanted of the world. Necromancers and sorcerers rule warring tribes haunted by the ghosts of savage and primal gods.

With each fragment Khraen discovers more of the man he was.

There was an Empire.

There was a god.

And she dreamed in blood. 

358 pages (kindle)
Published on April 16, 2021
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I edited this book. 

I’ve edited… I don’t even know how many of Fletcher’s books I’ve edited by now. I think I’m on six? Maybe seven? I haven’t looked. Anyway, the point is, I edit for this guy. I edit a lot for this guy. I’m a bit invested in his career. You should know that before you continue reading. 

The thing is, I’m pretty invested in Fletcher’s career regardless. The reason being, I don’t often come across an author who is this incredibly talented, and I always want talented authors to not only succeed, but thrive. Fletcher has this way with telling a story that just works for me. It’s like he wraps his fist around my heart and squeezes, squeezes, squeezes, and oh, it hurts, but it’s the kind of pain I love. He pushes me to understand just how far a person can push a story, and just how well unexpected elements can work together to create something completely new, and intensely captivating. 

Fletcher isn’t really an author you want to read if you want comfortable. His books are anything but comfortable. Case and point, She Dreams in Blood. This is the second book in his The Obsidian Path series. You do need to read Black Stone Heart before you read this book. You won’t understand any of it if you don’t, and that would be a real shame because this book is really worth your time. Also, if you haven’t read Black Stone Heart yet, you need to. Do yourself a favor and just read it. You’ll be glad you did. 

Honestly, I edit so many books and read so many more these days, it’s really hard to surprise me. I have a sort of gut sense about where a story will go, and the twists along the way, and 90% of the time, as I read/edit, I find my gut is right. This doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the book I’m editing/reading, but I am much harder to surprise these days. 

She Dreams in Blood had me pretty shocked the entire time I was editing it. Reader, I was not prepared for this Lovecraftian horror-fantasy, nor was I prepared for the various twists along the way. The character I went into this book not trusting was the one I went out of it feeling extremely sorry for. The one I liked ended up being a repugnant skinbag. My entire worldview was flipped on its head. I mean that literally. In the space of one (*checks notes*) 358 page book, everything I thought I knew was wrong and I was left with an ending that had me messaging Fletcher with “OH MY GOD.” 

And you know, Fletcher is a perfectly nice man once he wipes the blood off his face. (I said this line on Twitter, and I have to retract it. I’ll leave the tweet thread here). 

Anyway, Fletcher is a great man with a fantastic sense of story but She Dreams in Blood took everything I thought I knew and mixed it up a bit, then threw in some Lovecraft for flavor and right when I thought stuff was settling I realized that absolutely nothing is what I thought it was, neither world nor people. This book just changed the game big time. 

I don’t know what to expect next, and for someone who reads and edits as much as I do, that’s really the best compliment I can give any author. I genuinely do not have a clue. Fletcher’s next book in this series will drop next year, I’m guessing, and as I write this, I cannot even hazard a guess as to what will be in it. I genuinely don’t know.

Do you know the last time I’ve been able to say that? A long, long time. And oh, what a gift it is. 

Black Stone Heart was good. As you can see from its SPFBO ratings, it’s really, really good and it is getting the praise it deserves. 

She Dreams in Blood takes all the good parts of Black Stone Heart, and builds on them by orders of magnitude. I honestly was wondering if Fletcher could top his previous book, but he did. This one is incredible. Unpredictable. Horrifying, and, more than that, human. These struggles, changes, the journey to understand both oneself and one’s past, is so incredibly human. And maybe that’s why this book works so well. It’s somehow manages to stay true to its fantasy nature with larger than life characters and gods, magic, and mystery while the people at the heart of this tale are so shockingly, painfully human despite their larger-than-life natures. 

This series is all about hearts. It is fitting that She Dreams in Blood never loses sight of what makes a heart beat. 

Fletcher is a master craftsman. It is honestly the highlight of my editing career to work with him, to see his books unfold, and to see how well received they are. He has taught me a whole lot about writing. More than that, his books are, in my estimation, some of the best fantasy out there. She Dreams in Blood is a magnificent edition to this author’s portfolio. 

I cannot wait for all of you to read it. 

5/5 stars

P.S. I had this hunch for a while now that Fletcher has been leaving Easter eggs in his books about his entire body of work as a whole. I finally confronted him about it when I was editing this one. He confirmed my suspicions, said not many people are picking up on it (I think we both decided this is pretty awesome), and I just think that’s delightful. So I guess what I’m saying here is, look for Easter eggs and have your mind blown the way mine was. I think my direct quote once I figured it all out was, “Wait. WAIT. I just read this, didn’t I? I didn’t make this up?! This is SO COOL.” 

I’m telling you people, this man is a mad scientist. He works on numerous levels. Not only is he an incredible wordsmith, but he tells stories no one else would dare to tell, and he masters them. Plus, there’s all this beneath the surface stuff too that adds layers and depth to everything. I don’t know what Fletcher’s brain must be like, but it’s got to be labyrinthian and incredible. I mean… just wow.