What I Should Have Said

K. Bird Lincoln's blog about cancer, sf/f fantasy, and chocolate

Dream Eater: A Novel of the Portland Hafu

Koi Pierce dreams other peoples’ dreams.    Dream Eater Front

Her whole life she’s avoided other people. Any skin-to-skin contact—a hug from her sister, the hand of a barista at Stumptown coffee—transfers flashes of that person’s most intense dreams. It’s enough to make anyone a hermit.

But Koi’s getting her act together. No matter what, this time she’s going to finish her degree and get a real life. Of course it’s won’t be that easy. Her father is increasing senile, she’s haunted by a dream fragment of a dead girl from the casual brush of a creepy PCC professor’s hand, and a mysterious stranger who speaks the same rare Northern Japanese dialect as Koi’s father seems to be stalking her. Koi must learn to trust in the help of others in order to face the truth about herself.

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Praise for DREAM EATER:

“DREAM EATER brings much-needed freshness to the urban fantasy genre with its inspired use of Japanese culture and mythology and its fully-realized setting of Portland, Oregon. I’m eager to follow Koi on more adventures!”
– Beth Cato, author of The Clockwork Dagger and Breath of Earth

“Dream Eater is my kind of urban fantasy, fast, engaging, and diverse. Myths from several different cultures come into play, each one distinctly and lovingly drawn. The tensions between them are as real and as fractious as what we face in the real world. A timely book that happens to be a rollicking read. Dream Eater has it all: mythological and social diversity, strong characters, and a tender romance. I can’t wait for the next one.”
—Keith Yatsuhashi, author of Kojiki and Kokoro

“I read Dream Eater in one sitting. While I was supposed to be working. K Bird Lincoln’s story of paranormal clashes in Portland is a fun reworking of traditional legends across several cultures and mythologies. Our protagonist Koi (yes, Koi, her mom had a fish thing, okay?) is struggling with the pressures of college life, compounded by her father’s failing mental condition (Alzheimer’s) and the awkward fact that she reads emotions on contact, which can be a lot less pleasant than it sounds – particularly when she’s brushing elbows with a serial killer. Things get even more complicated when a cute but suspicious guy shows up from overseas, looking for her helpless dad.

But not gonna lie, I came for the Japanese mythology, and I was not disappointed. Lincoln has not just grabbed a popular youkai for a quick exotic flavoring, she’s made a creature less known in the west key in this paranormal world, giving it new mythology with the old. She’s written a story which contradicts none of the traditional stories but does not rely solely upon them, either. There’s a hint of a larger unknown world to be unveiled, too – which only makes sense, as this is the first of a series.

Readers who want variety in their urban fantasy beyond the werewolf and vampire staples are advised to pick up Dream Eater.”

– Laura VanArendonk Baugh, author of Kitsune Tales and The Songweaver’s Vow

Lincoln’s debut urban fantasy unspools a tense plot from hidden family history. Koi Pierce, a biracial college student in Portland, Ore., reads scraps of people’s dreams through touch. Her life is further complicated by her Japanese father, the source of her power, who has what appears to be Alzheimer’s; her Hawaiian mother’s life insurance helps to pay for his care. When Koi engages a mysterious man named Ken to help her father as a caregiver and translator, she learns that her family history is more convoluted than she had imagined, and that Ken is more than he seems. A recurring, bloody fragment troubling her dreams is revealed to be related to a struggle for supernatural power that involves both Koi and her family. With Ken’s help, Koi must confront and exploit her own identity to protect those she loves. Lincoln successfully mixes Japanese, Native American, and Middle Eastern mythologies in her modern setting, and Koi’s wry voice gives a new perspective on the problems of paranormal gifts. “

–Publisher’s Weekly


“Lincoln infuses Japanese folklore into the Pacific Northwest, creating a fascinating world where a young dream-eating heroine, Koi,  must learn to use her frightening talents to save her family in a tale of ever-increasing peril. By the end you’ll be anxious for the next book!”
— J. Kathleen Cheney author of The Golden City and Dreaming Death

“The characters really drew me in–Koi and Ken are intriguing on their own, but even better together. Overall, the book is as quirky and edgy as Portland itself.”

— M. K. Hobson, author of The Native Star


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