USEREVIEW 129 (Capsule): Everything You Dream Is Real

Shantell Powell/ August 9, 2023/ Book Review, Capsule Review

Lisa de Nikolits
Everything You Dream is Real (Inanna Publications, 2022)
ISBN: 978-1-77133-930-8 | 336 pages | $22.95 CAD | BUY Here


Lisa de Nikolits is the multiple IPPY-award winning author of eleven novels. She is also a member of Crime Writers of Canada, and her most recent novel is a crime story unlike any I’ve ever read. Everything You Dream is Real features mass murderers literally serving time via time travel. The book is a stand-alone sequel to The Rage Room (Inanna Publications, 2020) and is set in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic world, but if you’re expecting the usual tropes, prepare to be discombobulated.

Everything You Dream is Real is as riotous and zany as Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett’s comic series Tank Girl. It reads like an early Neal Stephenson cyberpunk novel by way of Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. It’s climate fiction, with satellite-controlled weather, and the tortured landscape has mutant flora / fauna as unpredictable as those of Jeff Vandermeer’s Annihilation. In this madcap future, the most dangerous creature on earth is the monarch butterfly, sought after for its hallucinogenic butt dust.

The writing is filled with twists and turns, and is a joy to read. Everything You Dream is Real may appeal to fans of Dr. Strangelove, the Cyberpunk 2020TTRPG, or the comic fantasy of Christopher Moore.

Recommended excerpt:

I’m recommending this excerpt (pp. 68–69) from a chapter called ‘Sharps’ because it shows the POV of a character who’s been sharing literal headspace with other people:

Four beds surround me. I can’t tell who’s who because their heads are covered in bandages. I try to touch my head, but my hands are bound by IV tubes. I try to speak, but my jaw is wired shut. That’s unexpected. I look around for a help button, but there’s nothing. And I’m strapped to the bed. It’s hard not to panic. I try to look on the bright side. One wannabe prima ballerina and a bunch of psycho convicts are out of my head. That makes for a good start.

Shantell (Shan) Powell is a two-spirit author, artist and swamp hag who grew up in an apocalyptic cult while living off the land. Powell is the Vancouver Manuscript Intensive Fellow for 2023, a fellow for the Roots Wounds Words Winter Retreat in 2023 and a recent graduate of the Writers’ Studio at Simon Fraser University and the LET(s) Lead Academy at Yale University. She has a BA in Classics, English Drama and Creative Writing at the University of New Brunswick, and studied Art and Design at Conestoga College and the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design. Her writing has appeared in Augur, Cloud Lake Literary Journal, Feminist Studies Journal, Prairie Fire, Yellow Medicine Journal and more. Her visual art has been shown in the National Textile Museum, OCAD and Porcelain Painters of Canada. When she’s not writing or making things, she’s getting filthy in the woods. More: +

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