Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Books I Loved: The Dreamhunter Duet

I love finding new books to read…whether it’s from a library display, a blog, a friend or family member, or an author recommendation. 

A couple of months ago a well-known author recommended Dreamhunter: Book One of the Dreamhunter Duet by New Zealand author Elizabeth Knox.  It sounded interesting, and I’ve enjoyed other things this author loved, so I ordered it from the library.

Wow.  I don’t know what I’d expected, but it was unlike anything I’d ever read before.  Dreamhunter is set in an island-like country much like Australia at the turn of the 20th century, but with one big difference: in the last 20 years, a whole new culture of “dreamhunting” has sprung up after the now-famous Tziga Hame stumbled quite by accident into what is now known as “The Place.” 

The Place is an arid, grey land that only a privileged few can access.  Everyone else walks right across the borders and just continues travelling in the regular green, lush countryside.  But to those few—who are allowed to see if they can enter this Place in an official “Try” when they turn 15—they have the chance of becoming dreamhunters.  If they succeed in catching dreams, they take those dreams back out of The Place and “perform” the dreams for an audience…by going to sleep and taking the audience with them into the dream.

Laura Hame, Tziga’s 15-year-old daughter, and her cousin Rose are eager for their “Try” to see if they can become famous dreamhunters like Rose’s mother, Grace, and Laura’s father.  But their Try is only the start of a bizarre, quirky,  mysterious, and dangerous journey that has unexpected twists and turns every step of the way.

Book 2—Dreamquake—was just as good, and I devoured it just as quickly.  A particular favorite of mine was the strange song “The Measures,” the clever wordplay surrounding this song, and the character Nown. 

Where do the dreams come from?  What part do convicts play in them? What does the repressive government have to do with the dreams?  And most of all, what is The Place and why did it suddenly appear 20 years ago?

As the answers to these questions are revealed, things speed up more and more and the final few chapters are un-put-down-able.  These books are strange and slow-moving at times (especially at the beginning), and the author writes in such a way that the characters seem a bit distant and removed, but this may be entirely intentional because it lends a really dreamlike quality to the whole story. 

I finished these books three weeks ago but the story has stayed with me ever since, to the point that I wish I could track down the author and ask her some questions about the ending.  The mystery of The Place was not one I could guess and I was truly surprised at the things Laura discovered on her journey to understanding. 

All in all, a really good read…and a very different and thought-provoking story.


Bethany Wiggins said...

Thank you for this post. I am always looking for a fabulous read!

Scott said...

I almost never buy a book off the shelf when I've never heard of it, but I did a couple weeks ago when I got The Mysterious Benedict Society. That was a really fun read. A little long for a kid's book, but I read all of it in two Saturdays, with a couple short evenings in between.

Kiirsi said...

You're welcome, Bethany!

Scott, I LOVE that series! I do the same thing--library first, and only buy it if I love the book. The second Benedict isn't quite as good but still fun, and I've got the third on hold at the library...it just came out last month. Great books!

Scott said...

Thanks, Kiirsi. I'll have to check out the rest of the series. Another recent series I've enjoyed so far is The Last Apprentice. Creepy, spooky, suspenseful, and sometimes just plain scary, and always fun.