Dreamscape, by Antonia Rachel Ward

23 Oct 2023

The Book

Pages: 304
Age Group: Adult
Published on 24 Oct 2023
Publisher: Ghost Orchid Press
Available on:


If you fall deep enough down the rabbit hole, how will you even know when you’ve made it out?

When teenage runaway Wren Silver’s little sister gets lost in the DreamScape, a virtual world so addictive its use has been outlawed, the prognosis is bad. Nobody who’s fallen into a coma while using the DreamScape has ever recovered.

Realising her only chance to save her sister is to venture in after her, Wren logs into the DreamScape to discover a bizarre, lawless world presided over by two self-proclaimed ‘gods’. Convinced one of them has captured her sister and is using her in his attempt to attain immortality, Wren must seek the help of a cult acolyte and an elusive rock star in order to unmask the god’s true identity before her sister is lost for good.

DREAMSCAPE is a dark cyberpunk Alice in Wonderland tale full of colourful characters that merges the fantastical settings of Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus with the neon-gothic vibes of Silvia Moreno-Garcia's Certain Dark Things.

My Review

Dreamscape is a cyberpunk thriller novel, mixed with some gothic fiction elements, written by Antonia Rachel Ward. A genre blending story, set in a near future where there is a virtual world called the Dreamscape, but which was abandoned commercially after the death of his founder, becoming illegal accessing to it due to the tendency of the users to become addicted to it (the Scapers) and due to the danger of losing the conciousness inside Dreamscape, letting your body in a sort of coma. In this world, two gods compete for the power, Thanatos and Hypnos.

The first of the characters introduced will be Wren Silver, a young artist living in SF, whose sister Beth has been lost to the Dreamscape; Wren feels partially responsible, as she abandoned her family to start this new life, letting Beth there, as part of a toxic environment. She wants to rescue her, but navigating the Dreamscape is complex, a world under the designs of two gods.
A second POV is introduced to us, Lia, a ballet dancer newly married to a film start; however, her ex husband, the narcissistic rock star Erik Draven, doesn't want to let her go. With this subplot, Ward manages to weave a compelling story about necessity and toxic love, while throwing a subtle hint on public identities.

Although both POVs may seem unrelated, they gradually intertwine and ultimately converge at a common point; all while exploring the details around the Dreamscape and those powers trying to gain the control over it. Balancing both POVs, we get a highly emotional story, focusing big on the personal relationships.

The prose is carefully crafted, creating a really immersive read with many memorable moments; and the pacing is balanced, slower at the start to create the foundations needed for the big final crescendo. 

Ward's debut novel is an excellent book, fitting perfectly that cyberpunk Alice in Wonderland pitch; personally, I felt this book was what I would have liked Ready Player One to be. A book that shows its author's talent, and hopefully, not my last read by Antonia Rachel Ward.

The Author/s

Antonia Rachel Ward

Antonia Rachel Ward

ANTONIA RACHEL WARD is an author of horror and speculative fiction, based in Cambridgeshire, UK. Her short stories and poetry have been published by or are forthcoming with Flame Tree Press, the British Science Fiction Association, and Dark Recesses, among others. She has published two novellas, MARIONETTE and ATTACK OF THE KILLER TUMBLEWEEDS, and her first novel, DREAMSCAPE, is forthcoming in October 2023.

She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Ghost Orchid Press.