Book review: In My Dreams I Hold a Knife by Ashley Winstead

Published August 3rd 2021 by Sourcebooks Landmark


Six friends.
One college reunion.
One unsolved murder.

A college reunion turns dark and deadly in this chilling and propulsive suspense novel about six friends, one unsolved murder, and the dark secrets they’ve been hiding from each other—and themselves—for a decade.

Ten years after graduation, Jessica Miller has planned her triumphant return to southern, elite Duquette University, down to the envious whispers that are sure to follow in her wake. Everyone is going to see the girl she wants them to see—confident, beautiful, indifferent—not the girl she was when she left campus, back when Heather’s murder fractured everything, including the tight bond linking the six friends she’d been closest to since freshman year. Ten years ago, everything fell apart, including the dreams she worked for her whole life—and her relationship with the one person she wasn’t supposed to love.

But not everyone is ready to move on. Not everyone left Duquette ten years ago, and not everyone can let Heather’s murder go unsolved. Someone is determined to trap the real killer, to make the guilty pay. When the six friends are reunited, they will be forced to confront what happened that night—and the years’ worth of secrets each of them would do anything to keep hidden.

Told in racing dual timelines, with a dark campus setting and a darker look at friendship, love, obsession, and ambition, In My Dreams I Hold A Knife is an addictive, propulsive read you won’t be able to put down.

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Ten years from now, we’re going to be on top of the world together. You and me, looking down on everyone else, laughing and laughing.

When you expect nothing and then get a huge knife in your back. This is how I feel about this book. I had zero expectations when I dived into it, but from the first pages, I was submerged into a very dark and disturbing life of Jessica Miller, an ordinary girl who strived for bigger, who wanted more. But what is the price of wanting? I could summarise this book in one phrase: beware your wishes.

In My Dreams I hold a Knife is a multilayer cake or a more visceral comparison: it’s like peeling layers of skin, one by one. It’s painful. It won’t stop until there’s bare sinew and bones. This book bares so deep it cuts to the soul.

Under the surface, in the cold, in the salt, swallowed by waves, I pressed my eyes shut, letting myself sink. And in that moment a wild wishing came over me. I wanted to stay here, submerged forever. Above the surface, all the days of my life were waiting like a promise. There was nothing but a blank slate, and anything goes, and what if. My life could mean anything, I could become anyone, as long as I didn’t break surface, as long as I stayed here, suspended, in this beautiful, infinite now.

The story shows us a group of friends in two spaces: past and present. We can see as clear as day how these people changed, especially Jessica. Oh, I think she is my favorite antiheroine up to date! She is like a bulldog who clenched its teeth around a bone and wouldn’t let go. She would bite anyone who’d try to take it from her. She is a sociopath. Obsessive, passive-aggressive (sometimes actively aggressive) but she is also a living breathing person we can relate to. To tell the truth, I related to Jessica a lot. Especially because we are the same age and her youth and college days happened at the same time mine did. I could literally live through some of her struggles because I felt similar in my days. Even the grown-up Jessica cried to me because as much I wanted to slap her in the face and make her see that her dreams were made of clouds: real only because someone else put them in her head, but not something she desired. This crazy pursuit for success, for everyone to see her as the best Jessica Miller, the one on the top and comment on her awesomeness. Haven’t we all been there? Haven’t we all wanted approval from someone?

I wanted them to see perfection. I ached for it in the deep, dark core of me: to be so good I left other people in the dust.

This book cuts deep; it made me think a lot. But I don’t want to go into more details because the psychological part and the mystery part go hand in hand. It’s a psychological character-driven thriller. And it’s divine in its dark academia theme, one of my favorite topics in literature. Dive into it blindly and you’ll have mo regrets (maybe).

Bottom line: I am sure this book will sink its teeth in you once you start reading it; it will hit too close to home. These people are terrible. These people will make you want to gag with disgust at times. But if we look into the mirror, part of us knows that these people are us.

Highly recommended!

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