Johanna Holmström's photo.

© Niklas Sandström

Cover of the book.

Johanna Holmström: Lucid Dreams – A User’s Manual

Despite the title, this book is no ordinary trip guide. It’s a collection of short stories, written in Swedish, that spans the depths of darkness found in the human mind, and the ways that people’s relationships sometimes grow crooked. The weaving stories run from the 2000s with its social turmoil, climate crisis, and pandemics — all the way into the 2200s, when the role of artificial intelligence has expanded greatly.

Lucid Dreams is acclaimed author Johanna Holmström’s sixth publication. It’s divided into ten separate stories, but their interconnectedness soon holds you in its grip, as a breathtaking continuum of events. The sense of connection is underscored by an atmosphere of true horror, which grows and grows. Something evil or mystical is always present in these pages.

The same mystique and raw power can also be found in Holmström’s use of language, as well, which veers away from sheer anxiety. The setting may be dark and bleak, but the attitude of the book in total is more like a katharsis.

Feminist ideals also play a strong part in the plot and themes, as Holmström has masterfully done in previous stories, too. This is a dark, swirling pearl of a collection. The stories inside demonstrate how humanity’s capacity for good is limited — maybe other life forms could do a better job…

Original title: Handbok i klardrömmar. Förlaget 2022, 302 pp.
Foreign rights: Salamonsson Agency,