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Laura comes from a world similar to our own except for one difference: it is next to the Place, an unfathomable land that fosters dreams of every kind and is inaccessible to all but a select few, the Dreamhunters. These are individuals with special gifts: the ability to catch larger-than-life dreams and relay them to audiences in the magnificent dream palace, the Rainbow Opera. People travel from all around to experience the benefits of the hunters' unique visions. Now fifteen-year-old Laura and her cousin Rose, daughters of Dreamhunters, are eligible to test themselves at the Place and find out whether they qualify for the passage. But nothing can prepare them for what they are about to discover. For within the Place lies a horrific secret kept hidden by corrupt members of the government. And when Laura's father, the man who discovered the Place, disappears, she realizes that this secret has the power to destroy everyone she loves . . . In the midst of a fascinating landscape, Laura's dreamy childhood is ending and a nightmare beginning. This rich novel, filled with beauty, danger, politics, and intrigue, comes to a powerful crescendo, leaving readers clamoring for Book Two.

365 pages, Hardcover

First published April 27, 2005

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About the author

Elizabeth Knox

32 books889 followers
Elizabeth Knox was born in Wellington‚ New Zealand‚ and is the author of eleven novels and three novella and a book of essays.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 537 reviews
Profile Image for Emma.
2,893 reviews352 followers
March 2, 2018
A bit of background before we begin: Dreamhunter first came to my attention when I was talking to "Amy" the YA librarian at my place of employ. As a fellow fantasy fanatic she also thought I would admire the writing. I, however, did not remember to write down the title. A bit later, upon hearing about writing troubles I had been having, Amy once again recommended Dreamhunter. This time I immediately put the book on hold. And looking back now I am ashamed that I waited so very long to read it.

Dreamhunter is Elizabeth Knox's first novel for a young adult audience, although I feel obligated to point out that the genre label here applies more to the fact that her main characters are teens than anything to do with the novel's subject or prose. She is also the author of several novels for adults.

Like so many great fantasy novels, Dreamhunter is set in a world not that different from our own. The one reminder that this novel is not like any other period book set in 1906 has to do with dreams.

For a very few people, perhaps one in every three hundred, dreams really are tangible in the Place: a mysterious other-world far larger than the few acres of woodland that in encompasses in the real world. The Place hold dreams. Of the few that can enter the Place, fewer still are able to sleep there and bring the dreams back to the general public where the dreams can be performed in private residences or in a dream palace like the Rainbow Opera--a sort of theater for dreams--for the public good. Dreamhunters, when they have enough skill and talent, can make their fortunes by catching the right dreams.

No one knows this better than the novel's fifteen-year-old protagonist, Laura Hame, and her cousin, Rose Tiebold. Laura's father, perhaps one of the best dreamhunters ever, discovered the Place and Rose's mother is another very skilled dreamhunter.

But, as Laura and Rose are about to learn, all is not right in their world. When Laura's father disappears under mysterious circumstances she and her cousin set out to find the secret behind not only his disappearance but also, perhaps, the very secret of the Place itself.

Aside from its thrilling plot, Dreamhunter is a wonderful novel because of Knox's background work. As soon as I opened this book, I felt like I was immersed in Laura and Rose's world. It didn't matter that I had never heard of dreamhunters, or Tricksie Bend, or the Grand Patriarch because Knox incorporated all of these new ideas effortlessly into her plot. I was hooked, almost literally, for the entire 365 pages of this novel.

The writing here is rich without being overdone and beautiful without being conspicuous about it.

This story opens in the year 1906. The choice of time period, as well as Knox's writing style bring to mind Garth Nix's powerhouse fantasy novel Sabriel. I loved Sabriel (as I love all of Garth Nix's books), but I might have loved Dreamhunter slightly more if for nothing save its ending--one of the best I have read of late.

Laura and Rose's story continues in Dreamquake the conclusion of Elizabeth Knox's Dreamhunter Duet.

You can find this review and more on my blog Miss Print
Profile Image for Suzan.
576 reviews
April 10, 2020
Ilk bölüm bitesiye kadar hicbir şey anlamadım ikinci bölümle birlikte kurgu kafamda oturdu ve kitap akti,kendine özgü değişik bir distopya(türünden tam emin değilim epik fantastik de olabilir)benim çok hoşuma gitti klişe olmayan bir gençlik kitabı aşk meşk vs yok kurgu ve akrabalik dayanisma ön planda çok güzeldi ama başını okumak çok zordu gerçekten 🤷‍♀️
Birde ismi saçma olmasina rağmen kumadam çok tatlıydı 😊
Profile Image for Monica.
527 reviews164 followers
October 30, 2017
Could not make myself get thru this. The story line was cumbersome and not very interesting.
Profile Image for Lucy .
343 reviews34 followers
March 24, 2009
Laura and Rose are cousins and best friends. They also happen to be daughters of the most prestigious, famous family in Founderston—because Laura’s father Tziga, and Rose’s mother, Grace, are two of the most celebrated dreamhunters. Not only that, but Tziga Hame was the one who discovered the Place in the first place—a mysterious landscape that only a few can enter, where those with the dreamhunter ability can “catch” vivid, powerful dreams, bring them back to the rest of the world, and share them with other people.

The discovery of the Place changed the way the people of Founderston lived. Now, Rose and Laura are fifteen, and they are finally old enough to Try—to find out if they are capable of entering the place and bringing back dreams. But what is meant to be a happy occasion turns sour when Tziga goes missing, and Laura and Rose discover a hidden government conspiracy beyond their worst nightmares.

It’s hard to describe this book properly. When I read the description, I assumed it would be another generic fantasy novel, and honestly, if the sequel hadn’t won the Prinz Honor, I’m not sure I would have bothered. But I am so glad I did. This book is gorgeous. The world they live in is vivid, fully-realized and detailed, and those details come out in bits and pieces, here and there, until you have a full picture of what it’s like. The family relationships are wonderful and healthy—Rose and Laura’s friendship is strong and very real, even when things between them change. Emotions are real and raw, and the adventure and discovery is fascinating and compelling.

I really can’t wait to read Dreamquake. It’s waiting for me at my local NYPL, and I am so excited to pick it up. It’s just so very good.
Profile Image for Cassy.
195 reviews630 followers
October 7, 2009
“Dreamhunter” is an enjoyable and easy read. And its strength is the fantastic underlying premise. A mysterious lifeless land that only a handful people can enter to catch dreams and share with others – what an incredible concept! So, kudos to Knox for running with her imagination. Admittedly I had a harder time accepting some of her other creations, such as the character Nown – essentially a "man" conjured out of sand or whatever materials are around, but I trusted Knox enough to just go with it.

The plot is a bit slow at first, but speeds up toward the end. The ending itself is exciting and concludes the book nicely on a big event while leaving plenty of anticipation for the next book. (Thank goodness. I hate when the first books in a series don’t offer a single answer and just end in the middle of the action.) And the nightmare she describes at the end is truly terrifying. It is relatively simple and short description, but it sure gave me chills. I even read it out aloud to my husband.

If you are on the fence (like I was) about continuing to the next book, “Dreamquake”, I’d say go for it. I would even say the second book is better. It has more action and will answer most of your burning questions about the Place.
Profile Image for Craig.
1,342 reviews9 followers
May 9, 2007
A little bit fantasy, a little bit alternate history, a little bit political thriller - not really enough of anything for my taste, but for some reason this book grabbed me and wouldn't let go. The setting is an island (New Zealand?) sometime in the early 20th century where everything is the same as our world, except there is an area where a few people can "catch" dreams and are then able to share them with others in public "performances." The language and pacing are evocative of the time and the dreamhunter idea provides the twist needed to move the book out of the mundane into the wonderful. A fine implementation of a truely unique idea. Followed by the second part of the "duet," Dreamquake.
Profile Image for Abigail.
7,116 reviews186 followers
November 24, 2019
On the island nation of Southland - a sort of alternative New Zealand settled by immigrants from both Britain and the Aegean island of Elprus - a strange phenomenon had been discovered. "The Place," as it was known, was an alternate dimension, existing alongside the everyday one in the Rifleman Mountains, and accessible only to a few. A strange, dusty world, constantly illuminated by a diffuse light, it was a source of incredible dreams - dreams that could be harvested by those known as Dreamhunters, brought out into the larger world of Southland, and transmitted to others. And so an industry was born, as dream parlors and dream palaces flourished, and an entire infrastructure developed - all regulated by the Intangible Resources Act, and enforced by the Dream Regulatory Body.

In 1906, some twenty years after the discovery of The Place by a violinist named Tziga Hame, whose family came from Elprus, and were reputedly descended from Lazarus (ie, Lazarus of Bethany), Dreamhunter opens, following the story of the extended Hame/Tiebold family, and focusing on two young women: Laura Hame, daughter of the famed Tziga, and her cousin Rose Tiebold, daughter of another famed Dreamhunter, Grace Tiebold. As the girls prepare for their Try - in which they test whether they can enter The Place, and possibly become Dreamhunters themselves - their world is shaken by a series of tragic and terrifying events. Tziga, under contract to the Department of Corrections to supply "Think Again Dreams" for prisoner rehabilitation, disappears; only one of the cousins (despite their strong expectations otherwise) is able to enter the place; and a sinister conspiracy, one involving the use of dreams and Dreamhunters to influence the political life of the nation, emerges. As each member of this close-knit family struggles with larger issues, they must also contend with the changing nature of their familial bonds, and their relationships with one another.

Thought-provoking, original, and - in the end - deeply moving, Dreamhunter is a book I would recommend to readers who enjoy fantasy with a little philosophical heft. So many fascinating questions are raised, in the course of the story, from the nature of dreams themselves, to the proper response to state misconduct. I appreciated the fact that Knox does not always depict her characters as knowing the correct (or any) answers to these questions, or following the correct path. In fact, the entire final sequence, in which Laura commits an act of mass brutality and dream terrorism, at the behest of her missing father, points to the fact that these characters are anything but generic cookie-cutter cut-outs, firmly in either the "good guy" or "bad guy" camp. On the contrary, Knox's characters, from the Hames and Tiebolds, to figures like Mamie and Cas Doran, are complex and true-to-life, and witnessing their interaction with one another, the ways that they negotiate their ever-changing relationships, is one of the great joys of the story.

I thought Knox brilliantly captured the surreal quality of dreams, and the dream-world in this first entry in her Dreamhunter Duet. In fact, she captured that feeling almost too well, something that created a sense, not of being repelled, in the course of my reading, but of being slowed (sometimes almost to a crawl). I found it difficult to read as quickly as I would have, if this had been any other book, as I needed to savor, and to think about what I was reading. I found that I simply couldn't race through it, as I've done with so many other, more plot-centric stories, but really had to think about what Knox was depicting. I found her use of the Lazarus character, and of the golem-like Nown, immensely fascinating, as it raised additional questions about the nature of creation, and of the (porous) division between humanity and divinity: What does it mean, to create a being? What obligations do the creator and created have, to one another?

It is this last - the questions raised by the creation of the sandman Nown (and what an inspired thing, that he is a sandman, when one considers that this is also a tale about dreaming) - that really makes the story stand out to me, from an emotional perspective. I found the exchanges between Laura and Nown to be immensely moving, as Laura seeks to understand her creation - how he thinks, why he responds the way he does - and comes to love him. There is a distinct effort being made here - nothing comes naturally, or free from strain - knowledge has to be won, after a struggle. And I think that is true for the reader as well: there is a struggle involved, in reading this book... but by the end, I was convinced that it was worth the effort.
Profile Image for Samantha Boyette.
Author 13 books26 followers
August 28, 2011
In general I am the kind of person who reads a book once (which does nothing to change the fact that I must own every book I ever fell in love with), but there are a few books I have to pull out now and again to re-read. Dreamhunter is one of these books. It was a books that I stumbled upon with no prior recommendation and couldn't put down. On the cover it says it is "Book one of the Dreamhunter duet". Duet? Best thing to call a series of two books ever!

The book follows fifteen-year-old Laura Hame and her family in a world similar to ours where special people called dreamhunters enter the Place in order to catch dreams and play them back for audiences in dream theaters. These dreams can have both healing and damaging effects, depending on the dream. Laura's father was the first to discover the Place and is the most renowned of the dreamhunters. When Laura follows in his footsteps she finds herself deeply entwined in old family secrets, political scandal, and the mysterious origins of the Place.

Knox weaves the story through this book, and it's sequel Dreamquake, with elegant ease. Within pages the reader feels as if they are walking alongside Laura. The complicated relationships of the family never fail to ring true even in the most trying circumstances they find themselves in. Laura is a captivating character to follow as she tries to figure out the Place's secrets and begins to carry the burden of those secrets on her own young shoulders. Knox manages to make Laura both strong and vulnerable in turn with equal honesty. Even as she makes a decision that will have terrible consequences for hundreds of people, you are rooting for her because you know she is doing what is right, no matter what it might cost her.

From beginning to end Dreamhunter reads like a true glimpse into history. Knox manages to build a completely fantastical world that rings true with every word. In my mind that is something that only the best writers can accomplish.
Profile Image for Meagan.
551 reviews22 followers
January 25, 2010
I am being generous with two stars and that is only because the plot was original. Other than that I really did not like this one. There was a serious problem with under developed characters. I was unable to connect with any of them and actually disliked what little I did know. I did not care about the main issues presented and as the plot unraveled I was thinking "Who cares?". The whole "Nown" monster element was weird and too vague, and frankly I did not care one bit about what was going to happen in the end. In fact I cannot believe I bothered to finish it. The author had an interesting idea but was not able to make it work. I will not be reading the sequel.
Profile Image for Serap.
692 reviews72 followers
June 3, 2019
Okuyacaksanız sakin kafayla okumalısınız Açıkçası zor okunan bir kitaptı o yüzden yarım yıldız gitti 4,5 tan 5...konu olarak çok sevdim,olay akışı da gayet iyiydi (farklı kişilerin ilahi bakış açısıyla anlatılması ve bol betimleme akılcılığa engel olmuş)kitapta aşkın a sı yok,kızların yaşı 15 ama hiç takılmayın sadece bir rakam...zor okunan bir kitap olmasa yıldızlara kalplere doyamazdım...
Profile Image for Lauren.
407 reviews606 followers
November 9, 2010
Dreamhunter is a YA fantasy that takes the genre back to its roots. Gone are the paranormal creatures that we know so well—Dreamhunter introduces a completely new concept. Elizabeth Knox blends the historical setting with the fantasy elements effortlessly, and the world she builds is absolutely incredible. The history of the Place and the dreamhunters is laid out expertly in the first few chapters, and every part of the story is described with vivid imagery.

Some readers may give up initially because of the dense and very descriptive prose (Knox’s style is more like that of an adult fantasy than a YA), but the story is completely worth the extra time required to read Dreamhunter. The characters are memorable (especially the adults), and the political intrigue is just that—intriguing.

This is my second read-through of Dreamhunter, and I have also read the sequel, Dreamquake. It’s true that Dreamhunter ends on a nasty cliffhanger, so readers will definitely be eager for the second installment. Because I have read Dreamquake, I will say that if you’re thinking about skipping the sequel, DON’T. Dreamquake answers all the questions left unanswered in the first book, and the twists in the story are almost mind-blowing.

To sum things up, I most definitely recommend Dreamhunter. It’s a fantastic YA fantasy, and I absolutely love it (Really. I sing its praises in real life, too). If you’re looking for a change of pace from the typical paranormal fantasy, look no further. Dreamhunter’s got you covered.

(Originally posted to 365 Days of Reading: http://renkellym.tumblr.com)
Profile Image for Suzanne.
73 reviews1 follower
January 26, 2008
I picked this up because its sequel won a Printz honor and a friend said I really needed to read the first book to understand the second (which brings up all kinds of Printz eligibility issues I won't get into here - but feel free to invite me out for a drink if you feel like getting all philosophical).

It took me a few chapters to get into the world and characters but once I did I found myself completely swept away by Laura and her eccentric family, the mysterious convicts and their desperate secret message, the corrupt governemtn, the disappearance of Laura's father, and the whole life of dreamhunters. Not to mention the golem!

I didn't think the conclusion was much of a conclusion - it's clearly just part one of a two-part book. I'm curious about the decision to publish it as a "duet" in the same year. Simply a crass marketing scheme? Or some deeper, artistic motivation? I'm glad I have Book 2 available to read now - it would have driven me crazy to wait months for the conlusion!
Profile Image for Emily.
1,737 reviews37 followers
March 9, 2017
I loved the originality of this story and the ominous, otherworldly atmosphere. I did this on audiobook, for the most part, and Edwina Wren (wonderful name) did a fantastic job overall. I didn't love how she did NOWN or Maze Plasir, but otherwise it was a top notch reading and probably how I'll read the next book.
I wasn't a fan of the cliffhanger ending, and I didn't think the author developed the transformation of Laura from spacey follower to the person who makes such a world-shattering decision at the end of the book. But the latter could be argued, I guess, that she was still following more than thinking for herself.
Rose was a wonderful character, and I look forward to seeing her in the next book. I was often moved by the cousins' closeness and protectiveness of each other.
The book was extremely descriptive, which set the tone and atmosphere nicely, but also made things plod along at times.
I still thought it was an exceptional book and worth the time and effort to get through it.
Profile Image for Rachael.
Author 8 books421 followers
November 5, 2014
I realise I'm coming off as the 5-star queen at the moment, fisting out those sparklies like 100s & 1000s on anything and everything but I swear it's not the case! Firstly, I choose well. Secondly, I read intentionally and well-armed. Admittedly those things may be the same ... whatever the case: I love Elizabeth Knox, so there.

Dreamhunter worked for me on soooo many levels. The premise: Dreamhunters? Holy crappers! I'm sold! Knox is the consummate world builder. Southland is vivid, familiar and yet other, a slip in time that makes this read like historical fiction rather than fantasy. And within Southland exists an alternate plain known simply as 'The Place' where the gifted may travel and absorb dreams to carry back and share with others. Dreams have become a source of industry/tourism, a valuable tool in health and social reform, a major player in the local economy. Dream Palaces and Parlours are frequented by the wealthy as theaters for entertainment & refreshment. For successful dreamhunters it is a lucrative career in which large amounts of money can be made. For corrupt bureaucrats dreams can 'useful' for manipulating public opinion and there are some 'morally flexible' dreamhunters willing to be bought.

Laura, the daughter of the greatest Dreamhunter ever known, Tziga Hame, is faced with the daunting prospect of finishing her father's secret work. When he goes missing she must piece together the clues and come to terms with a deeper magic than she could have imagined. Helped and sometimes hindered by her eccentric extended family, Laura must uncover the truth and find the courage to make a stand against the cruel/abusive use of dreams against the powerless.

I won't bang on but BIG highlights for me: Chorley Tiebold, Laura's forbearing uncle who shoulders the burden of chief caregiver. He's marvelous. Rose, Laura's cousin who doesn't let her lack of supernatural gifts keep her from being a pro-active ally. Nown, a sandman, made by ancient magic to serve and protect Laura. Don't roll your eyes, he's AWESOME! The BIGGEST highlight for me, is Knox's writing, the language, imagery, detail, poetry. Characters and scenes are vivid and richly drawn. Everything is so beautifully grounded in reality she makes the suspension of disbelief a breeze and you'll go running in like a skinny-dipper shedding clothes before a nighttime plunge.

Profile Image for Ceridwyn.
397 reviews1 follower
May 30, 2009
Throughout DreamHunter I kept trying to analyse the writing, which I thought wasn’t working for me. Then I’d get caught up and intrigued by the plot and fail to analyse the book because I was submerging myself in it instead. I always felt at a remove from the characters, probably because I was constantly being told, rather than shown, what they thought and felt. The only character I had my own visceral response to was NOWN, who I adored, because of the lack of explanation as to his thinking. It almost made him my point of view character, which I don’t think was the intention.

That being said, Elizabeth Knox has an incredibly individual voice. Sometimes I love it (The Vintner’s Luck, Billie’s Kiss) and sometimes I can’t stomach it at all (Black Oxen). DreamHunter fell far more into the former camp, though I don’t think it’s anywhere near her best work.

DreamHunter is an interesting example of the author overtly telling everything about the world that the characters know. It also sometimes tells us about the characters’ emotions rather than letting us figure them out from their actions. Yet strangely it works because of the convoluted and fascinating plot and because the ideas are so intriguing.

The world of DreamHunter really feels like an alternate Earth, so everything feels very real. She’s changed the details around the settlement of Aotearoa in a minor way and introduced one ‘magic’ event and that makes it very convincing – especially as she’s obviously well-researched that kind of late-Victorian frontier town. I did wonder, however, about the lack of Maori (or equivalent native people).

Laura develops beautifully into her own woman, changing a lot throughout the course of the book; Rose has a lovely strength in adversity and is smart. Neither of them is perfect and both have interesting character flaws that add to the plot and the emotional life of the book. Chorley also feels three-dimensional, I liked the way he was spoilt but determined and the way his non-dreaming ability contrasted with the other two adults and the way that made him active.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
849 reviews7 followers
January 18, 2011
I haven't been this engrossed in a book in a long time, but Knox totally pulled me into this unusual fantasy. Her prose is sensual and spare at the same time, and she does an amazing job of evoking emotion and a sense of place with a few well-chosen words. She starts with a unique and intriguing premise - in a land somewhat like New Zealand at the turn of the 20th century, there is a place that only a few people can enter. In the Place no rain ever falls, the light never changes, and no flame can be struck. Only a few people have the ability to enter the place, and fewer still can catch dreams and bring them back to share with other people. Much of the appeal of the book for me hangs on the central mystery of the Place and the dreams in it, where they come from and what they mean. Knox also weaves in complex family dynamics, and a coming of age tale. I'm eager to read the second part of the "duet."
77 reviews4 followers
March 25, 2007
Another book I really liked. I don't read lots of fantasy - it's all the same - dragons and magic trala. This one was different. The setting - New Zealand at the turn of the 20th century. The premise - there is a place where sensitives can capture dreams and may be able to transmit them to others. Intriguing. Throw in a little government corruption, romance, family relationships and gypsies and wow. I am looking forward to the next book in the series very much.
Profile Image for Stacia (the 2010 club).
1,045 reviews3,954 followers
August 11, 2010
I wanted this book to be so much more for me. The idea of people being able to go into a mystical zone to "catch" dreams and share them with others sounded original and fascinating. Unfortunately, the story just didn't click with me. The father and aunt figure didn't give me the warm fuzzies, and the last half of the book had me scratching my head in some parts. This book gives a whole new meaning to the word sandman.
Profile Image for Jessica.
Author 31 books5,634 followers
May 3, 2009
This book was breathtaking! The world of the dreamhunters was vivid and real, reminiscent of Pre-WWI in our world, yet with a delightful twist. I loved all the characters, and was fascinated by the Place.

And then!

And then I discovered that it's not so much the first book in a two book "duet", but in fact the first half of one long book. I need the second, ASAP! I'm totally hooked!
Profile Image for Kathy.
2,741 reviews5,976 followers
September 10, 2009
This was another book recommended by Stephenie Meyer. It took me about a week to get through it. I really enjoyed it but it was a book I could put down. I wish I had the second book so I could keep reading as this book ends with nothing resolved and so many questions left unanswered. Can't wait to start Dreamquake.
2 reviews
September 25, 2009
having a hard time getting into this one. If it wasn't for all the great reviews on Goodreads, I would of stopped! I need to keep going.
Profile Image for Courtney Johnston.
388 reviews149 followers
November 6, 2011
In preparation for reading and reviewing a book of essays about New Zealand YA writing, I've been re-reading some books, starting with Elizabeth Knox's two-parter 'Dreamhunter' and 'Dreamquake'.

I bought and read both books when they first came out, and didn't like them much. I found them enjoyable enough - okay. Adequate, not satisfying - not as good as I wanted them to be. It was like going out to a really good restaurant, and having a really good meal, and then ordering a $22 dessert which sounds, but doesn't come through for you on the plate. It's still a good dessert, but it's the crescendo you were hoping for.

My main complaint the first time round was that Knox's imagined world felt thin to me - an alternate Edwardian New Zealand where a 'Place' has opened up, a section of the rural landscape that appears differently to a small portion to the population. When these people enter the 'Place', they disappear from normal sight - they enter a bleak and sere landscape where the sun never sets, rain never falls, time doesn't seem to move, and where when they sleep, they capture dreams they then take back into the world and dream for other people; for public performances, for private pleasure, for therapeutic treatments and for more sinister purposes, sponsored by a shady government department. At the centre of the story are two teenage girls, both the children of dreamhunters, one of whom discovers that she, too, can enter the Place, and one who, to her bitter disappointment, cannot.

Put like that, Knox's world actually sounds dense, not thin. At the time though, I wanted her world to be more - more detailed, more different, or more interwoven with our actual history. Reading the books over again, I felt my original assessment was uncharitable. On reflection, it was probably because I'd just come off Philip Pullman, and it's going to be hard for any writer to match that level of poetic world-building.

This time round, I was far more open to Knox's world, and her story of dream terrorism, love and sacrifice. And I was far more admiring of an aspect of the book that I'd glanced over before - the adult relationships in the book, which are far more clearly drawn than you usually get in YA books. I was also struck by a vein of sensuality that I'd not remembered; while I don't want to recap the whole story, there's passage between Laura (the young dreamhunter) and her golem (I know - there are golems, but I still don't find the imaginative world convincing - I'm a hard woman to please) that went straight through me:

Of course Laura went to sleep in Nown's arms and didn't wake until his gait changed. He was stepping from boulder to boulder along a beach heaped with stones ranging from fist-sized to elephantine. 'I think I'll stay where I am for now,' Laura said, and tightened her arms around his neck. 'Don't drop me.' She knew he wouldn't, only said it to savour how safe she felt.

And the thing I find most interesting is the way this sensuality is transferred over from the animated but unavailable - a man built out of clay and dirt to protect and serve her - into the human, a young dreamhunter named Sandy:

Sandy flushed, clenched his jaw and crossed his legs. Laura had picked up his hand and was playing with the soft flesh between his thumb and finger - childish and intimate. Sandy was having trouble with this, and Chorley saw, at last, that the young man was in love with Laura, not just drawn and possessive. Sandy was trying to control his desire, and having trouble with it. Chorley could see that the young man too thought that Laura wasn't ready for things to go any further between them. She was in danger of getting in too deep too young, not because Sandy was older and infatuated with her, but because of her own behaviour. Something - Chorley could not imagine what - seemed to have stripped away all the normal caution she should have about just touching another person, any other person. The attention she was lavishing on Sandy's hand was playful but intense. She stroked and pressed his hand as if in search of a secret mechanism that would make it open up, or turn into something other than itself.

And yet. In there, there's still something of the tell-not-show of these two books right here. We're mostly not shown Laura and Sandy's intimacy - we're told it. I can't lose myself in these books, as much as I'd like to. I'm self-conscious as I'm reading them - I'm watching what Knox is doing, not feeling it.
Profile Image for Kathleen Dixon.
3,628 reviews59 followers
April 1, 2015
Isn't it wonderful how one can keep finding excellent books?! I'm having a blitz on Elizabeth Knox at the moment, after receiving a copy of The Vintner's Luck purely by chance (no, that's not quite correct. It was purely by chance that I was present at a meeting where a book exchange was taking place, but as I had heard the title The Vintner's Luck it wasn't chance that caused me to take it with me).

I read The Vintner's Luck and loved it (review elsewhere), then borrowed The Angel's Cut and loved it also. Subsequently I went through the library's listings and reserved every title they had by Knox, because I didn't want to add her to my very long list of "to-be-read" books, as it's impossible to tell if I'm ever going to get through that, and books and authors tend to get forgotten there.

Dreamhunter (and the following Dreamquake) has similarities to the Vintner duo, in that they are set in our world, are set in the not-too-distant past, but add a fantastical element. Beyond that, they're completely different.

Dreamhunter's world isn't quite ours, in that it's not geographically factual. Nevertheless, its setting is close to New Zealand, with a sprinkling of native trees and creatures, and with (a nice touch) a historian, Dr Michael King, named after our own Michael King, who died tragically in a car crash the year before this book was published.

The fantastical element is the discovery, 20 years in the book's past, that there is a Place interposed on the landscape, which certain people (1 in 300 we're told) are able to enter, and in which a small proportion of those people are able to "harvest" dreams. This book's chief protagonaist, Laura Hames, is the daughter of the most famous dreamcatcher, Tziga Hames, and the niece of the most popular dreamcatcher, Grace Tiebold. Grace broadcasts romantic adventures to large audiences in the Rainbow Opera; Tziga takes healing dreams to hospitals, and contracts to the government. Laura and her cousin Rose are about to Try - a regulated occasion in which hopefuls (past the bottom age-limit) walk past the boundary marker to see if they remain visible (and therefore not able to enter the Place), or if they disappear into it. Rose is excited and supremely confident that she will follow in her mother's footsteps; Laura is scared and doesn't know what she thinks.

This book has all the elements I could ask for in a fantasy novel. I like all the characterisation and I like the development of the two teenage girls (being well removed from my own and my children's teenage years, and with my grandchildren being sufficiently distant at the moment from them, I can enjoy observing teenagism). The fantasy element is well presented - Knox is a fine writer and unravels the details beautifully within the plot, so that our understanding grows almost at the same pace as Laura's. On top of this, I love dreamworking, so I was intensely satisfied with this as a theme. Also, there's intrigue and excitement and friendship and the struggle over what's right and what's wrong ...

A great read. I began reading when I went to bed, and didn't stop until I'd finished.
Profile Image for Melliott.
1,424 reviews81 followers
December 23, 2010
The books are set in a fictional country called Southland (possibly drawn from Knox’s New Zealand origins) at the turn of the century (the last century—the early 1900s). The mores, dress and conduct are typical of that era, but what is atypical is the focus of the book, which is “the Place,” a land that lies outside of geographical boundaries. The main characters of the book, cousins Laura Hame and Rose Tiebold, are 15 when the first book opens, and they are shortly to have their “Try” at getting into the Place. Laura’s father, Tziga Hame, was the one who discovered it some 20 years previous, and it is a strange land to which only one in 500 people is able to gain access. Nothing changes in the Place—it is dry and silent, with trees, grass and vegetation that are neither living nor dead. No water flows, and no fire burns. The pivotal characteristic of the Place that makes entry desirable is that a certain percentage of the people who can go there can lie down to sleep and “catch” dreams, which they then bring back with them to the regular world and share with whoever goes to sleep within the range of their “penumbra.”

Twenty years after its discovery, dreams from the Place are much in demand, both for entertainment and for therapeutic purposes, and Laura’s father and Rose’s mother are two of the premier dreamcatchers who share dreams and make their living from it. But the government is also making use of some of the dreams (or call them nightmares) in much less appetizing ways, and the plots of both books hinge on Tziga's and Laura’s attempts to reveal this to the public in the face of the government’s desire to keep its socially manipulative plans a secret.

I found the premise of being able to transmit dreams to others a riveting one, and the mystery behind the Place—what it is, where it came from and why it exists—equally fascinating. The writing and characterizations are fluid, vivid and specific, and the juxtaposition of a typical early 20th-century society with the otherworldly land of dreams retained my interest throughout.
Profile Image for actual baba yaga..
91 reviews1 follower
May 21, 2014
I was so intrigued by the premise of this book and the originality of its idea - and so disappointed in the execution. While I love descriptive, lyrical prose - Victoria Schwab, Maggie Stiefvater, Laini Taylor, and the like - DREAMHUNTER was overly-descriptive and the writing was just impenetrably dry. There was entirely too much telling, and some absolute abominations of sentences, such as this treat:

"A boy baiting hooks on a line wound out from a boat in the sea below the mountain saw the train, its windows reflecting the setting sun in long and short flashes as though transmitting a message as it turned and slowed into the spiral."

None of the characters were remotely interesting and by the point I'd put the book down, nothing of note had happened. Additionally, I consider myself a fairly intelligent reader and I don't shy away from sophisticated world-building, but I shouldn't have to read the Wikipedia page for a book to figure out it's most likely set in an alternate version of New Zealand. Considering how closely aligned with our world this book is - complete with railways, indoor plumbing, electricity, and Christianity - not having this grounding piece of information left me scratching my head for a bit.

Lastly, creating an alternate history version of New Zealand in which there were no indigenous populations to speak of strikes me as a bit... gauche.

DNF, just over a hundred pages in.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
457 reviews19 followers
February 8, 2012
Wow! This novel is wonderfully imaginative, truly creating another world in which dreams might be real, might be the future, and seem to exist in little mappable pockets inside a conceptually unmappable piece of land with confines in this world and geography in another. The scope and awe inspiring imagination driving this book (and, I'm assuming, its sequel) remind me of the Northern Lights trilogy, and those are some of the most incredible books ever written for Young Adults (IMHO).
A mindblowingly original story written by an NZ author - this is well worth recommending to all readers. Its a pretty complex and mature read, though apart from a dreadful nightmare about being buried alive, the content is approachable by any secondary reader, but I think it will mostly appeal to the 15 and older group.
There's a wonderful character development between the two main female protagonists, and these are by far the most plumbed characters - its generally very plot driven, and our belief must be suspended and is stretched at times by the twists and turns of the plot, but the rewards are worth it for the ride offered to the imagination.
Profile Image for Crystal.
55 reviews3 followers
June 22, 2018
I, personally, did not like this book. While the premise is intriguing, the characters ended up being dull for me and the plot moved at a snail's pace. From the first pages, I fulled expected the Try to come asap, as the inciting incident in Laura's life, but it took nearly a THIRD of the book to get there as we wade through chapters of world building, setting up the mystery plot, and backstory for nearly every secondary character.

In addition to that, and far harder for me to get through, I just could not like the way the book was written. I felt we were told about far, FAR more information than we were shown, which made everything feel distant and boring. Even mid-dialogue the book would cut out actual dialogue in favor of telling us what was said. It was jarring at best and absolutely aggravating for the most part.

Coupled with characters I never ended up connecting with and a plot that felt haphazard and half-finished, I just didn't enjoy it.
137 reviews12 followers
August 25, 2020
⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ Bloody epic. I couldn’t put this down. I’ve never read a Knox novel and now feel so embarrassed about that! I love how she’s created a world that can be described as folds in the map. I wanted so desperately to spend more time in The Place. I love Laura the quiet cousin who doesn’t have great expectations of herself but feels the duty of whakapapa. Hummed through it in less than 24hrs!
Profile Image for Sean Williams.
Author 220 books432 followers
July 11, 2016
Slow to get going but full of character and unique world-building. I'm a big fan of Elizabeth's books. No one writes like her.
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