The Dallergut Dream Department Store

Hanover Square: Harlequin. Jul. 2024. 300p. tr. from Korean by Sandy Joosun Lee. ISBN 9781335081179. $21.99. FANTASY
DEBUT Lee’s debut novel, a Korean best seller, is a charming foray into the land of sleep. Here, talented creatives produce dreams for sleepers to purchase. The luckiest sleepers will find their way to Dallergut’s Dream Department Store, where the staff believe that dreams should matter, and do their best to match people with dreams that will improve their lives. Readers are guided through this world by the store’s newest hire, Penny, whose willingness to speak up and ask questions allows for natural exposition and worldbuilding. While there is very little action, the novel is comforting and sweet. Many readers will appreciate the central messages, that life is better when well-rested and that dreams matter, no matter how nonsensical, stressful, or easily forgotten they might be. In fact, as demonstrated through vignettes about people in the waking world, sometimes the most irritating dreams are the push one needs to change their life. For a novel about dreams, the level of surrealism remains low, despite fluffy anthropomorphic tigers with pajamas and mechanical eyelids to monitor customer sleepiness.
VERDICT This is an excellent choice for a gentle book club read.
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