★★★★★ 5 Stars
Eerie as the tangled, labyrinthine woods it takes place in, The Dreaming is an unexpected treasure.
Murders and disappearances begin to occur in a remote boarding school in Australia – some suspect a madman, some suspect the secretive, sour-natured principal, and some think it is the wild bushlands surrounding the school.
A haunting and foreboding place, the bushlands are a never-ending depth of gnarled trees which appear to “bleed” red sap, and is where some of the missing have been found.
While it has a creepy paranormal air, The Dreaming is also a story of losing someone you care about to the unknown, and the horrors one might have to face or act upon to save a life.
There is so much to be loved about a boarding school murder-mystery which incorporates Australian myths, and executes it all fantastically. Also there is something unique to be said about it having a nearly all-female cast whom all have distinct personalities, even if the character doesn’t show up for very long.
Jeannie is a resourceful and intuitive protagonist, and her twin sister Amber is equally likeable though they are only similar in looks – Amber is more of an introverted daydreamer, who easily falls prey to the strangeness of the school and its forest. Miss Anu, at first a double-faced and strict teacher, turns out to be one of the best and strongest characters in the series. Even the principal who seems to have a phobia of twins has a twin-like nature herself, and is only a bitter face hiding a tragic history.
The Dreaming‘s artwork flatters an already inventive and creepy story – a seamless, beautiful mix of traditional manga and digital art. The lavish outfits, which play such a crucial part of the story, strangely don’t look out of place in the woods, as if to say that this is a place where there is no difference between the civilization of the school and the primal wildness outside.
Since there has to be a negative somewhere, hard as it may be to scout out, the plot does kind of slow in the second book, which is more dramatic and setting-up for the reveals of the third. There is really nothing bad to say about it as a series, though.
Characterization – 4.5/5
Plot / Story – 5/5
Artwork – 5/5
Book 1 – 5/5
Book 2 – 4.5/5
Book 3 – 5/5
General – 5/5