Review – Screamcatcher – Christy J. Breedlove

Reviewed by Hannah Vernon

I instantly admired Breedlove’s character-driven narrative when I began to read ‘Screamcatcher’. Characters are such a pivotal part of the novel, and the point from which the reader can access the world, and so I was delighted when I found that, despite knowing little about the Native American folklore underpinning the novel, through the nature of each individualised soul, I was able to learn from Breedlove’s words and therefore enter a wholly new experience of reading.

Jory Pike herself is a wonderfully relatable character. Still struggling with the recent loss of her parents, she attempts to cope and yet concedes and accepts help from her Grandfather in a very human, emotive manner, taking from him the Dream-catcher traditionally used to prevent nightmares.

However, even when this places her in a hellish position containing nightmares far worse than she could have comprehended, complete with an array of monsters to be fought in conditions that still depict its protagonists as feeling-fuelled humans, not superheroes, Jory is flexible enough to lead and guide her friends through this new landscape. She is capable of overcoming both the mental physical barriers presented to her, and ultimately embarks on a unique revelation that, though steeped in the spiritual, is still founded on a very honest human element that allows a meaningful connection to be built between reader and writer, and the created world that they have invited us to inhabit.

I also admired the somewhat abstract nature of the setting, which I found to be described perfectly in its varying detail and simplicity because it contained a powerful truth: however trapped they may seem, those nightmares still do exist, leading the reader to consider, long after Jory’s journey is apparently complete, what are our own nightmares really like? How much do we really know about the machinations of our own mind? And would we be able to grow as Jory did to face our fears, or would we descend, screaming, into the dark?

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