Dreamland by Nancy Bilyeau

Rating 4.5⭐️

Happy Pub Day to this beautiful new book!

Synopsis from the publisher: 

“The year is 1911 when twenty-year-old heiress Peggy Batternberg is invited to spend the summer in America’s Playground.

The invitation to Coney Island is unwelcome. Despite hailing from one of America’s richest families, Peggy would much rather spend the summer working at the Moonrise Bookstore than keeping up appearances with New York City socialites and her snobbish, controlling family.

But soon it transpires that the hedonism of Coney Island affords Peggy the freedom she has been yearning for, and it’s not long before she finds herself in love with a troubled pier-side artist of humble means, whom the Batternberg patriarchs would surely disapprove of.

Disapprove they may, but hidden behind their pomposity lurks a web of deceit, betrayal, and deadly secrets. And as bodies begin to mount up amidst the sweltering clamor of Coney Island, it seems the powerful Batternbergs can get away with anything… even murder.

Extravagant, intoxicating, and thumping with suspense, bestselling Nancy Bilyeau’s magnificent Dreamland is a story of corruption, class, and dangerous obsession.”


My thoughts:

Peggy Brattenburg is an heiress from one of America’s wealthiest families. At twenty, she decides she wants to move out and work at the Moonrise Bookstore in Manhattan. She is quickly reeled back in by her controlling family and forced to spend a summer in Brooklyn. The Oriental Hotel is a retreat for the wealthy upper-class located not too far from America’s Playground: Coney Island. Peggy would rather stay in Manhattan, but as a woman from a respectable family in 1911, she has certain expectations placed upon her and very few rights.

Dreamland was an incredible novel. It has romance, intrigue, and suspense all placed within an interesting time in history shortly after the turn of the twentieth century. I have never been to or read about Coney Island. Bilyeau is excellent at drawing her reader into the period while also setting the stage for an elaborate and entertaining story. Dreamland sounded magical. I felt like I was exploring it right along Peggy and the Brattenburgs.

This novel kept me engaged until the end, and while the twists weren’t completely shocking, I enjoyed the story too much to care. In addition to a solid mystery, Bilyeau tackles issues such as social class, women’s rights, poverty, immigration, race, and prejudice in early twentieth-century America.

Peggy tells the story entirely from her perspective. She is an easy character to root for, and I really appreciated her as a narrator.

I would definitely recommend this one if you are looking for a solid historical mystery.


I received a gifted copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

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