Amanda Barrett wrote a wonderful review of Castle of Dreams on Goodreads. Amanda is a top reviewer on Goodreads so her review was very special to me. Thanks Amanda!
Amanda Barrett ’s review:
Beneath the stunning tropical themed cover of this beautiful book, lies a wonderful multi layered and complex historical romance, fused with a contemporary narrative. Castle of Dreams is the story of two sisters, Vivien and Rose and their experiences in Australia during the Second World War era. Tied to this wartime story is that of their granddaughter/great niece Stella, who seeks to uncover a shroud of secrets that surround her grandmother. Set in the tranquil and tropical locale of far north Queensland, in the grounds of a Spanish style castle, this is a remarkable spilt style narrative of the lives, loves and family secrets of the two Blake sisters.
I had an immediate feeling when I bought this book that I was absolutely going to love it. I simply cannot resist novels that combine a contemporary narrative with a historical fiction story particularly if it is set in Australia. Castle of Dreams successfully weaves intrigue, ancestral secrets, love and history perfectly together.
I enjoyed following the journey of each of the characters in this novel, from the two Blake sisters in the wartime – their complications as well as the twists and turns their lives take. McCune has constructed characters that are likeable, relatable and have interesting stories to match.
There are some fantastic themes running through this book that McCune tackles with precision and insight. It was fascinating to learn about the Australia during wartime. It is clear that McCune has drawn from a variety of sources to inform her narrative. McCune sensitively and comprehensively covers such topics as PTSD in returned soldiers, the treatment of American troops in Australia and Australia’s involvement in the war in the Pacific region. She also portrays very accurately the societal expectations of the time. The final result is a novel that is finely in tune with the era in which it is depicting.
The setting in Castle of Dreams is simply magical. There is an ethereal quality about the beautiful Castillo de Suenos, which plays as a major centrepiece in the novel. I looked forward to the scenes that featured this lavish locale and found myself keen on researching more about ‘Paronella Park’, which was the muse for Castillo de Suenos. McCune compliments her descriptions of Castillo de Suenos with prose on the surrounding flora and fauna, which gives the reader a wonderful distinct picture of life in this part of Australia.
Castle of Dreams is a novel that I simply just could not resist putting down. I read it in two days. The latter part of the novel ensured that I was unable to stop turning the pages until the secrets of the Blake sisters were uncovered. When I reached the conclusion I felt a mixture of sadness and happiness in how the characters end up.
Castle of Dreams is a spellbinding and magical novel that illustrates the power of long held family secrets. Castle of Dreams is easily a five star read for me, it is the type of book that I am going to pass on to as many readers as I can as I adored it.
What a wonderful tribute to Castle of Dreams!