Author: Shveta Thakrar
Audiobook Length: 13 hours 8 minutes
Seven years ago, Tanvi was spirited away to the subterranean realm of Nagalok, where she joined the ranks of the dream runners: human children freed of all memory and emotion, charged with harvesting mortal dreams for the consumption of the naga court.
Venkat knows a different side of Nagalok. As apprentice to the influential Lord Nayan, he shapes the dream runners’ wares into the kingdom’s most tantalizing commodity. And Nayan has larger plans for these mortal dreams: with a dreamsmith of Venkat’s talent, he believes he can use them to end a war between nagas and their ancient foe, the garudas.
But when one of Tanvi’s dream harvests goes awry, she begins to remember her life on Earth. Panicked and confused, she turns to the one mortal in Nagalok who can help: Venkat. And as they search for answers, a terrifying truth begins to take shape—one that could turn the nagas’ realm of dreams into a land of waking nightmare.
The Dream Runners transports the reader to the realm of Nagalok and follows Tanvi, a dream runner. She transports dreams from Prithvi, the human world, to the Naga court where they pay her in boons that she can use to buy objects. As a dream runner, she is void of emotions and her memories of life on Earth. The story takes off when a dream collection goes wrong, and Tanvi begins to remember glimpses of her old life. She enlists the help of Venkat, a dream smith who collects the dreams from the dream runners and works under Lord Nayan, his adopted father.
The entire concept of the dream runners was very interesting with the process of collecting the dreams in the vials described. The story opens with glimpses into different dream runners and their desire to collect dreams. As a reader not very familiar with the mythology, I would have enjoyed more explanation so I could connect more with the story. There are some words and phrases that were not familiar to me, and I could not fully get them from context either, so I had to look them up. For me, I wish the author either would have added additional information, a translation of some sort, or just changed the wording a little so I could infer some of the meanings.
The pacing of the story is on the slower side, and this is also reflected in the character development. Tanvi has many internal monologues, but it is repetitive from one moment to the next with little growth. The two characters were interesting, but I just wanted more from them. For me, they were good, but I needed a little more exploration into their motivations to make me fully connect with them. The novel is very descriptive, which was amazing as it helped me visualize the world, but sometimes I wondered if this hindered other elements in the writing. Overall, this was a good story where I saw a lot of potential, however, it was not quite all the way there for me to consider re-reading it in the future.