Cover Image: The Dream Weavers

The Dream Weavers

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

I’ve greatly enjoyed Barbara Erskine’s novels in the past, but really struggled with this one. The primary issue for me, I think, is the length of the book – I found it overlong to the point of tedium. Add to that a series of characters ranging from unlikeable to brainless to scenery-chewing and the result is a story that I found quite a chore to get through.  

No book captures the imagination of every reader and unfortunately this one really wasn’t for me. If you enjoyed Barbara Erkine’s previous time-slip novels or you enjoy a folk tale flavour to your historical fiction, perhaps give this a try.

Thank you to NetGalley and HarperCollins Publishers for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
A great storyline and I loved the Welsh references (maybe because I am Welsh). This was a fascinating period of history and Barbara Erskine really brought it to life. I would thoroughly recommend this book.
Thank you Netgalley and Harper Collins for giving me the opportunity to give my unbiased opinion.
Was this review helpful?
A historian, Simon Armstrong, rents a cottage near Offa's Dyke in Hereford, on the border between Wales and England to write a book on the local area. He hears the haunting cry of 'Elise' in the evenings and when his teenage children come to stay for a holiday, they also hear it. The local Canon Treasurer's wife, Bea Halloway, based at Hereford Cathedral, who has studied the paranormal and has some experience, agrees to help the unsettled Armstrong family. A wonderful story unfolds that threatens to overcome those seeking to uncover it.

The two female protagonists are both really strong characters, separated by time but linked by gifts they both possess. Bea lives in present-day Hereford and Eadburh in eighth-century Mercia. I soon became totally invested in the atmospheric storyline following Eadburh from the court of her Father, King Offa of Mercia to the kingdom of Wessex and Charlemagne. As reality and dreams interweave a love story is told between Eadburh and Elisedd, a Welsh prince who met at Offa's Dyke.

Bea assists Simon in finding the source of mysterious sounds and cries that come from the garden of the cottage he is staying in, and the ghostly presence that is distracting him from his work researching the history of Offa's Dyke, little realising the effect it will have on everyone involved, including herself. Dangers lurk in the shadows that threaten to engulf them all. The period has evidently been well researched by the author and makes for mystical and extremely compulsive reading. A mesmerising tale of revenge and resentment.

I read The Dream Weavers in staves with other Pigeonholers as part of a group. A special thank you to Barbara Erskine, the publisher, Netgalley and The Pigeonhole for a complimentary copy of this novel at my request. This review is my unbiased opinion.
Was this review helpful?
There is something magical about the time-slip novels by Barbara Erskine, they draw you in and are perfectly researched in terms of the historical aspects, and this book, The Dream Weavers, is no different. 

A novel that slips between the times of 21st century Hereford and Anglo-Saxon Mercia and Powys, the book centres on a few main characters from either time, and how the past yearns to be told in the present.

The past narrative was thoroughly researched and well-written, and although the main character was not exactly likeable, she was believable, and her story (based on the real accounts of her life) were sad and harrowing. 

The present narrative had a likeable main character, but I found the addition of Emma and her experiences to detract somewhat from what I felt was a good start to the novel. There was such a lot going on that I felt it muddied the already complex waters, although I can see that it was to add another element to the tale overall. 

Overall, I enjoyed both of the narratives, but, as with many an Erskine novel, I think they could have been slimmed down quite a lot, especially in the case of the modern day story. Some things were repetitive and pointless and actually made the storyline feel quite ‘wooden’ at times. 

I also have to admit the following peeve: I cannot believe that so many people would, or do, use ‘one’ in their speech outside of an episode of The Crown- especially a teenage girl! (‘one would consider oneself to be of a generation that just would not do so’)! 

There is something about Barbara Erskine that I can’t resist, and her past settings are so thoroughly researched and interesting that I think I will not be able to resist her next book either. Give this a go and you’ll not be disappointed. Equally, be prepared to suspend belief in some instances- including the use of impeccable English grammar by teenagers!. 

I am glad to have had the opportunity to read this book ahead of publication- many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher.
Was this review helpful?
I do love a spooky story and this one gave me chills from the first chapter. 👻

Simon is a historian who is working on his latest book, about the Anglo Saxons, at a remote cottage on the English/ Welsh border. As he becomes more disturbed by the sound of a ghostly woman calling for’Elise’, he seeks the help of Bea, a psychic. As the plot moves on, between them they piece together the story of Eadburgh, King Offa’s youngest daughter as they try to figure out if and why she’s been tied to this location for 1200 years. 

I love the historical aspect to this novel and the way it’s convincingly intertwined with the modern day characters. The title is very apt, as the author weaves fact and fiction, past and present, into a delightfully atmospheric narrative. The descriptions of the landscapes are very evocative and the historical elements are clearly extensively researched. 

My only criticism is that at times I did feel that the modern narrative got a little repetitive. Bea looks into the past, her husband tries to convince her it’s dangerous, she says she won’t do it again and then she does, over and over. It also definitely gets less spooky as the story goes on and we start to understand more of the ghost’s story. There is plenty of tension though as Simon’s daughter becomes dangerously involved with the past. 

Overall this is a must read for fans of time shift fiction.
Was this review helpful?
I love the haunting books of Barbara Erskine and this was no exception. I found that the historical timeline dominated a little more than the modern day timeline, which was a little different to previous books of hers that I've read. 
I struggled with the pronunciation with a number of the names. Erskine was obviously aware that this would be an issue for a lot of people and so she had helpfully provided a pronunciation guide at the start of the novel. I still struggled so I moved to the audio version and I enjoyed it a lot more.
Erskine has obviously done her research, I felt completely immersed in the past. I love her way of working which enables you to believe that the modern day characters are just slipping into the past, the fact that they don't just accept this is happening but are logical in their approach to understanding what is happening. 
All in all, another great hit from Erskine
Was this review helpful?
Simon Armstrong has rented an isolated cottage situated on on the Welsh Marches, close to what remains of Offa’s Dyke, while he concentrates on writing his next book – a history of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia. The peace and seclusion he envisaged is interrupted by the desperate sounds of a woman sobbing, calling out a name and banging at the door, but he has never been able to catch a glimpse of anyone. The owner of the cottage puts Simon in contact with Bea Dalloway, the local Canon Treasurer’s wife, who deals with strange occurrences. Bea is intrigued by Simon’s account of the unsettling disturbances he is subjected to.

‘I deal with situations that other people consider frightening: the darkest corners of an old house, the sudden banging of doors, the creak of floorboards, the shadows thrown on a wall from an unseen presence.’

Before long Bea is embroiled, almost against her will initially, in visions and dreams of life in the court of King Offa, the king’s ruthless ambition, his scheming wife, the fate of his children — particularly Eadburh, the youngest daughter. She is destined for an arranged marriage but has fallen in love with Elisedd, a Welsh prince from Powys. The Dream Weavers is the story of their doomed relationship and how it echoes down the centuries.

Mercia in 788AD is imagined incredibly well and brought to life in a realistic and atmospheric way, the fact and fiction seamlessly woven together. In the present, Bea and Simon’s daughter walk a dangerous path between two worlds, and not all the danger lies in the past. The story incorporates magic, myth and the supernatural.

It’s while since I read a Barbara Erskine novel and although the ones I have read follow a similar-ish pattern in that the present somehow collides with the past, I still enjoyed this one. The Dream Weavers is a sweeping and entertaining story with an authentic feel to life in the eighth century. My only criticism is that the book could have done with a little pruning. It didn’t need to be quite as long as 512 pages.
Was this review helpful?
Simon thought it would be a good idea to rent a cottage near Offa’s Dyke on the English/Welsh borders whilst he wrote his book about the period as he does with all his books.  This time he disturbed the restless spirit of Eadburgh, one of Offa’s daughters.  Fortunately there is help close by in the form of Bea!  This is exactly what we expect from the queen of time slip novels - plenty of time slips with a host of characters, some good, some bad.  I enjoyed it very much as indeed I always have ever since reading Lady of Hay.  Love the area it’s set in, the meticulous research of the times.  It does take quite a while to get through because it is on the long side but worth the effort.  Another fabulous book from Ms Erskine!
Was this review helpful?
I like the timeslip construction and so ‘The Dream Weavers’ by Barbara Erskine caught my eye. Although well-established, she’s a new author for me as I explore more historical fiction. I admit to looking for more novels without technology and the mores of the modern world. A bit of escapism.
Set in two different centuries – Anglo-Saxon England 788AD and the English/Welsh border in 2021 – ‘The Dream Weavers’ is about the romance of a young English noblewoman and a Welsh prince who meet as Offa’s Dyke is being built. Eadburh and Elisedd are sent by their fathers to ride out along the construction line and report back on progress, but over a few days they fall in love. The dyke is a symbol throughout the book, of rivalries and divisions, of tribes seeking separation rather than acceptance of differences. Eadburh’s father King Offa meant it to be a permanent border line between the two countries but in the centuries after it was built it fell into disrepair. In the modern strand of the story – told by Beatrice Dalloway whose husband Mark is canon treasurer of nearby Hereford Cathedral – the dyke is a bit of a mystery, difficult to find, often missing or destroyed, invisible in the rural landscape.
I liked the history, the myths, the hunting down of secrets and particularly the exploration of how history’s perception of the past can be mistaken. Historians make judgements based on the information available to them at the time, but often they may be unaware that what they believe are historical facts are in reality assumptions, lies, cultural misunderstandings, political interpretations or written by chroniclers with personal agendas. This theme is embodied in the character of historian Simon Armstrong, a specialist in the Anglo-Saxon period, who has rented a cottage in the isolated countryside near the dyke to finish writing his latest book. But Simon has a problem, his cottage seems to have a ghost and his landlady calls Bea for help. Bea is a mystic who has an affinity with ghosts and has studied folklore and the supernatural, a hobby which sits uneasily alongside her husband’s job. As Bea investigates the mysterious voice and noises in and around the cottage, Simon’s two children arrive to stay. Teenager Emma seems delicately susceptible to the supernatural and is drawn into Bea’s dreaming. The connections between Bea and Emma with the Welsh borders of 788AD strengthen and both find it difficult to stay in the 21st century, at increasing danger to themselves.
This felt like a long read but when I finished it and checked I was surprised to see it is only 512 pages. Nowhere near the books I think of a ‘long read’ –
Hanya Yanagihara’s ‘A Little Life’ [737 pages], Kate Mosse’s ‘Labyrinth’ [752] and itself a timeslip tale, or Ken Follett’s ‘The Pillars of the Earth’ [a stonking 1104 pages]. The links between the timeslip sections became repetitive with Bea sitting down, falling asleep and dreaming a lot of times and at all times of day. This stop-start rhythm took me away from the historical story. I enjoyed all Eadburh’s sections, following her from the first meeting with Elisedd through their whirlwind romance to all that followed. So the modern-day sections of Bea seemed intrusive. But of course this is a timeslip story so it is set in two different time zones, and today’s accepted storytelling method is to introduce a threat to your key character. Bea’s modern-day strand features a cathedral volunteer who at first seems a nosy woman, interfering, disliking the new canon’s wife and possibly fancying Mark herself. But Sandra Bedford is not all she seems and her role towards the end was not what I was expecting. 
I was held to the last page by the telling of a tragic love story set in Anglo-Saxon times. I wanted to know what happened to Eadburh and Elisedd – did their love last, did they meet again – and cared less for the other characters. 
Having discovered a new author, I plan to go back to the beginning and read Erskine’s debut novel, ‘The Lady of Hay’.
Read more of my book reviews at http://www.sandradanby.com/book-reviews-a-z/
Was this review helpful?
I found this a slow read but worth persevering with.  A mystical historical read that was an enjoyable read.
Was this review helpful?
A book of two stories, one set in the old days of early England when it was not one country, but several kingdoms. The other story about Bea, who is in touch with the ghosts of the past and helps them to move on from haunting houses. Simon is a writer of history and whilst staying in an old cottage cannot deny that there is someone not of this world hanging around. So Bea comes along to sort it out and is drawn into the world of King Offa and his daughters and becomes a witness to history unfolding.
Was this review helpful?
I’ve been reading this authors stories for years and one thing that shines through is how well researched they are. They are always so incredibly rich in history with such an eye for detail. She has a talent for melding two separate time frames together so seamlessly and here we are again drawn into an intricately woven tapestry of past mixed with present.

This is the tragic love story of an Anglo/Saxon princess and a Welsh Powys Prince a love that was forbidden from the start but was so intense they each searched for the other even beyond death. Reaching through time itself and touching and affecting those in the future.

Bea is the wife of a clergy her husband Mark is the Canon at a Cathedral and she is a teacher and also a psychic. Because of her husband's profession, she keeps it discreet but when Simon an author writing a book on the Anglo/Saxons and staying in her friend's cottage asks for help with a ghostly voice she feels compelled to assist.

It’s not long before Bea is totally embroiled in all sorts of strange phenomena add in the arrival of Simons Teenage kids and also a woman at the church with a vendetta against Bea and she soon up to her neck in danger. And the more she uncovers the deeper she is compelled to travel this journey to its conclusion despite the peril involved.

This was as usual well written it’s in the author's usual style in as such that the past is mixed in with the present. it did feel a tad slow in places and took a while to gain some momentum but when it did take off It was good.

My heart broke for Eadburh and Elisedd’s fate even with all the things that Eadburh had done she hasn’t had an easy life and it had hardened and shaped her somewhat she did genuinely love her Welsh Prince and he felt the same way. Their story was just so bittersweet I found myself hoping they eventually found the happiness that evaded them in life and they were reunited and at peace finally in their deaths. I voluntary reviewed a copy of The Dream weavers.
Was this review helpful?
Wow, incredible. Loved every page of this book. Great story, interesting characters, well written. Highly recommend
Was this review helpful?
It's a fascinating, entertaining and engrossing book that made kept me turning pages.
It's well written and I was fascinated by the historical and paranormal aspects of the story.
The dual timeline works well and I loved the characters as they are quite intense and relatable.
The only fault I can find is that the book is a bit too long and sometimes drags.
Excellent storytellingRecommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
Was this review helpful?
I have been a fan of Barbara Erskine since her first novel, Lady of Hay. Great storytelling, a history lesson and a dual timeline make this a compulsive read.
Was this review helpful?
An epic tale that totally engrosses you in the history! Even though it's a bit of a chunk of a book - over 500 pages - the time spent with these characters and in their worlds, just flies by and I loved every single minute of it!

Transported to the Welsh hills, we follow the story of a writer who is seeking solitude to complete his latest book. It is focused on the history of the area, specifically that of King Offa and his family, and what a story they have to tell! Their story comes to life when the author, Simon, starts hearing voices around the cottage he is living in and calls in a local woman, Bea, who has a 'gift' for being in touch with the spiritual world. But the dreams and voices she encounters at this cottage are like no other she's experienced before, and she finds herself fully immersed in the past through her dreams and visions.

I loved the setting and the characters of this book. You totally understood Simon and his need for quiet, but with the past connecting with the present he gets a little bit closer to the time period he is concentrating on. And in Bea, you can understand her battle in not really wanting to get too involved, but getting totally swept along in the romance and darkness of the past. The characters of Eadburh and Elisedd, are so captivating as we watch their stories play out too and I can't choose between which time period I loved reading about the most!!

With the added mix of family becoming involved in the drama and danger, and the present mirroring the past, I totally lost myself in these worlds and didn't want it all to end!! Enthralling and captivating!!
Was this review helpful?
This story sweeps us from present day to the times of King Offa and the 12th century. It was an exciting read and gradually got darker and more threatening to our 21st century characters who were able to transcend time, see and interact with the spirits of King Offa’s time gone by.  
I could feel the eeriness of the ghostly voice calling for her lost love and how this gradually drew in a teenage girl from the present, susceptible to spirits and feelings. 
The interference from the woman dabbling in the occult made it all so much darker and fearful. 
I love stories which cross centuries and this author is an absolute master at them.   
Read this book and you will not be disappointed.
Was this review helpful?
A very good well written  book weaving  in time between 760 AD and the present.. I enjoyed the read and would recommend this book to those interested in history.
Was this review helpful?
Barbara Erskine back on form. I loved this tale of  a part of  Welsh history I knew nothing about. Characters are believable, historical detail well researched. Great read.
Was this review helpful?
I'm a fan of Erskine's books. I definitely enjoyed this one too. The writing is very engaging, I love the plots and characters. I'd read anything from her. 
Thanks a lot for the copy.
Was this review helpful?