Written by: Joy Holley
Te Herenga Waka University Press
Reviewed by: Courtney Rose Brown
Dream Girl by Joy Holley is a collection of short stories about women who wear their hearts on their sleeves, who do a tarot spread to deal with life’s burdens, and who twirl under the moonlight with hearts full of desire. The protagonists are haunted by love that slips from their reach as they cling to the details of the moments they had and what those moments could have been.
The author starts to find her footing a few stories in. When her stories stretch desire away from just the sexual kind is when her writing really shines. Fruit brings a charge of life to the collection. The details of fruit paralleled with something all-consuming alongside a relationship gives a unique depth of insight into the compelling nature of desire. Pets showcases a friendship group’s shared ambition to have the most interesting pet, adding another stroke to what desire can be.
Moral Delinquency in Children and Adolescents is a beautiful, evocative piece about young love. It follows the loss of an all-consuming friendship as the news story of the young girls from Heavenly Creatures breaks out and has a knock-on effect on society.
Blood Magic has an eerie undertone that introduces a haunting tone to Dream Girl. The sense that you’re not aware of everything that is happening adds an exciting twist of anticipation to the later end of the collection.
Music is a huge character throughout Holley’s work – the importance of the stories it can tell and the lives it can shape. As a reader, you can picture exactly what sort of parties are being thrown and get inspired to make your crush a playlist.
I would have loved to have seen further exploration of what desire is and can be. Some stories blur together as the repetition of a mysterious love interest who ghosted becomes monotonous. But overall, Dream Girl is a dreamy, hot, and haunting read.