dream HOUSE by valerie LAKEN


What price will people pay to hold their homes and dreams together?

When Kate and Stuart Kinzler buy a run-down historic house in Ann Arbor, Michigan, they’re hoping their grand renovation project can rescue their troubled marriage. Instead, they discover that years ago their home was the scene of a terrible crime—and the revelation tips the balance of their precarious union.

When a mysterious man begins lurking around her yard, Kate, now alone, is forced to confront her home’s dangerous past. Hers is not the only life that has crumbled under this roof. This man’s family also disintegrated here, as the result of one brief act of rage that may haunt him—and this house—for years to come.


I was hooked to this book by the cover at first sight…. and the title with the eerie letters reflecting in the water.  When I read what the book was about I was sold out interested.  A mystery!  A murder mystery!  A ghost story even!  Yet who are the ghosts in this ghost story?  Lingering pasts of Stuart and Kate…. dashed hops and dreams, ghosts of a marriage they once had – or dreamed they had?  Possibly.  Not the ghosts I had envisioned, but ghosts all the same.

The prologue was a bit much for me and if the book would have been based off those first few eighteen pages I probably would not have been able to finish the book.  The character of Claire I found to be extremely unlikable and desensitized.  My stomach actually lurched at what the book described.

and then we move on to 2005… and with the story of Stuart and Kate comes a sigh of relief from me.  I like them.  I like Kate’s dreams for the house and I can relate to that.  As Kate remodels and remodels I start to wonder what is she really trying to fix?  As Valerie Laken brings the pieces of this story as well as the characters together for a story that kept me turning the pages.

And really – what home, what person, doesn’t have a few ghosts?

About Valerie

Born and raised in Rockford, Illinois, Valerie Laken has lived and worked in Moscow, Russia; Prague, Czechoslovakia; Krakow, Poland; Madison, Wisconsin; Iowa City, Iowa; and Ann Arbor, Michigan. She received an MA in Slavic Literature and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan.

Her work has appeared in Ploughshares, the Chicago Tribune, Michigan Quarterly Review, the Alaska Quarterly Review, the Antioch Review, and Meridian. Her honors include a Pushcart Prize, the Missouri Review Editors’ Prize, two Hopwood Awards, and an honorable mention in The Best American Short Stories.

Her first novel, Dream House, was inspired by her own experience buying and remodeling a home in which a murder had occurred.

Laken has taught at the University of Michigan and Carthage College, and is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, where she teaches creative writing.

Visit Valerie Laken’s website.

My Amazon Review

I received my review copy from TLC book Tours

33 thoughts on “dream HOUSE by valerie LAKEN

      1. Wordlily (to below comment… I laughed at your comment. I like how you put the period after at and all. I like more mystery – suspense…. horror is just awful these days – its not like the Friday The 13th movies that I used to love in high school…..

  1. Was confused about your comment on the cover and then realized my cover was different then yours. I like your cover better 🙂
    I also totally missed the little blurb on the cover about it being a ghost story. Now I’m scared! Yikes!

  2. This sounds like a great book! And it’s set in my home state. I was born in Dearborn, which isn’t too far from Ann Arbor. I grew up in Midland, which is near Flint and Saginaw. Anyway, I like a good thriller that also focuses on human relationships. Great review!

  3. I’ll have to read this book. We bought an 1898 victorian farm house that was sound, but needed to be gutted and completely redone. We moved in and then started the process. That was in 1992. We are still working on it and hope we’ll be done one of theses days. We have reached the point that it is time to redo some of what we already did. We do have our resident ghosts, but thankfully, no dire history came with the house.
    If you have a shaky marriage, renovating a house is NOT the way to repair it. Luckily, our marriage was in good shape and so far has survived.

  4. It’s interesting to think that Kate’s trying to remodel something other than the house with all the remodeling she does. I love that analogy! Thanks for being on this tour!

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