Earlier this year, I was given the opportunity to read a copy of this book before it was published. Not only was I really honoured to get the chance to do it but I was excited to read it. The premise just sounded so good. I’d also read Dominic J. Anton’s poetry collection Intuition before, so I was excited to read his prose. The book was released in October and I was lucky enough to be sent a copy of the finished work. I couldn’t wait to get back in and read the final edition. So, I started reading it as soon as possible.
Nightmares & Daydreams introduces us to Kalim, a British songwriter living in Marseille with his partner, Zayn. Life seems to be going well until Kalim sees an old woman everywhere. Unfortunately, nobody else can see her. Then there’s the fact that he is having trouble sleeping and, when he does, his dreams are disturbed. He has out-of-body experiences and lucid dreams. Kalim can’t explain it and struggles to carry on working. To cope, he heads down a dark road and turns back to the bad habits from his past. It quickly becomes clear that some long-hidden trauma from his past needs to be addressed. Can Kalim figure out what’s going on and sort the problem out? Or will he forever be haunted by this mysterious figure?
Nightmares & Daydreams is a short but intense read. It combines horror story elements with a story about healing from trauma. It deals with plenty of dark ideas as we delve deeper into Kalim’s past. After an event in his childhood, Kalim suffered from grief and guilt. It also created a difficult relationship with his father who abused his son and hasn’t spoken to him for years. The book does delve into these themes and there are plenty of darker moments to get through. However, it is a very timely and relevant narrative. Mental health is such an important subject and it’s especially important for young men to open up. We see Kalim coming face-to-face with the trauma that he has buried inside him for so long. It’s a difficult journey but it is also inspirational in its own way.
The idea of literally being haunted by your past is a fabulous one. The use of horror story tropes to convey the pain in your life is fantastic. What happens when your inner demons are literally haunting you? This has the feel of a classic ghost story but with a contemporary twist. Something that is helped by the strong representation of the LGBTQ+ community. Kalim and Zayn have a strong and healthy relationship. It’s also refreshing that the trauma in Kalim’s past doesn’t primarily come from his experiences as a gay man. Instead, he is shown to have a caring support system who do everything they can to help him. The problem is Kalim’s resistance to facing up to his past. Something that is so true to life and praise-worthy.
On top of the main novel, there is accompanying poetry that further explores the themes. These are beautiful additions to the main narrative and really drive the importance home. As a whole, the writing on show in this book is wonderful. The poems are lyrical and lovely to read. Then there is the imagery in the main story. I love the use of water near the end of the book and the symbolism throughout Kalim’s journey. This is my second time reading this book and it still absolutely thrilled me. Nightmares & Daydreams is a captivating and engaging story about a very relevant topic. This is a thought-provoking tale and well worth a read.