The Kiminee Dream, by Laura McHale Holland
A pdf copy of this book was provided in return for my honest review. Thank you to author Laura McHale Holland, Cristina Deptula of Authors Large & Small for reaching out to me, and publishers WordForest.
Odd things happen in Kiminee, Illinois. Lilacs bloom in winter. Gravel glows golden on occasion. Pigs play kick the can. So when Carly Mae Foley learns to read at age two and masters multiplication at age three, the town’s quirky, tight-knit denizens take it in stride and embrace her with pride. But when a terrible twister tears through, Carly Mae is maimed, dashing hopes for her future. Her father is swept away and assumed dead. And her mother slinks off after creeping, naked, with her lover from the remains of a ruined home. It’s up to Carly Mae’s grandmother and a devoted, one-eared dog to hold what’s left of the family together. But not everyone is rooting for them, and when an unspeakable crime occurs, long-held animosities boil over. Will the good folks of Kiminee pull closer together now—or be torn apart?
Influenced by folklore and magical realism, The Kiminee Dream is a lyrical story with characters equally charmed and challenged while living where the ordinary and miraculous coexist seamlessly. If you like depth as well as whimsy, arresting twists, and details that rouse your senses, you’ll love what is both an eloquent exploration of acceptance and a tender tribute to the people of Illinois.
It was part of my 2021 resolution to widen my reading experiences and delve into genres that don’t involve murder and crime. For that reason, I accepted a lovely invitation to receive a pdf copy of The Kiminee Dream by Laura McHale Holland in return for my honest review.
A huge leap away from crime fiction, The Kiminee Dream is a charming and whimsical novel about small town life, love, and family. I’ve never delved into magical realism before and my preconceived notion that it was just another word for fantasy was proved hugely incorrect. Thanks to beautiful writing that explores the intricacies and eccentricities of small town life, and characters that were alive on the page, the added element of magical happenings wasn’t fantastical, but rather nostalgic of childhood beliefs I’m sure we all held. The overall effect was one of warmth, comfort, and a nostalgic charm that was sprinkled throughout like fairy dust.
Holland’s writing is extremely beautiful. It draws you in like the sing-song of a mythical creature, enveloping you and immersing you into the wonderful world that is Kiminee. The town is an anchor throughout the novel, because even as the many storylines weave in and out, it remains a stable constant that we’re always drawn back to.
As with most of the books I have the privilege of reviewing, I keep notes in a small notebook as I read. This proved extremely helpful when reading The Kiminee Dream. There are many characters and plotlines running simultaneously, sometimes crossing paths, but ultimately laying just beyond the grasp of understanding. My notebook proved invaluable for keeping track of characters and storylines.
I’m unsure if this is a sore point, or a credit to the author’s writing. On the one hand I was sometimes confused and had to flip back a few pages to recentre myself, but on the other hand I feel the confusion came from being so deeply and richly immersed in the internal life of a particular character that it was difficult to shake that off and immediately step into the life of the next one.
The Kiminee Dream is a beautifully written, endearing novel that, although heart breaking at times, ultimately leaves you feeling warm and comforted. Highly recommended.
You can pick up your copy in paperback or Kindle (paper free!) from Amazon.
About the Author Laura McHale Holland
"As a child, I loved the musicality of language and often recalled, verbatim, conversations I heard. A lost soul in my teens and early twenties, I finally righted myself in my mid-twenties and discovered a deep love of the creative process. I’ve been hooked on that ever since.
Significant mentors for me have been surrealist poet Nanos Valaoritis, who kept groups of students spellbound during office hours at San Francisco State University, and Ruth Stotter, a master storyteller who taught me the importance of getting out of the way of tales I am meant to tell.
My newest work, a novel titled The Kiminee Dream, incorporates fantastic elements but is grounded in reality—a place I like to straddle in fiction. My published books have received recognition in the indie publishing sphere, including the National Indie Excellence Awards, Next Generation Indie Book Awards, and Indie Fab Book Awards, among others. In addition, four of my short plays have been produced recently in Northern California, where I live with my husband and two goofy little mutts."