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Set in 1906, Dreamhunter describes a world very similar to ours, except for a special place, known simply as The Place, where only a select group of people can go. These people are called Dreamhunters and they harvest dreams which are then transmitted to the general public for the purposes of entertainment, therapy, or terror and political coercion. Fifteen-year-old cousins Laura Hame and Rose Tiebold both come from famous dreamhunting families, but only Laura proves to be blessed with the gift and once inside ...
Set in 1906, Dreamhunter describes a world very similar to ours, except for a special place, known simply as The Place, where only a select group of people can go. These people are called Dreamhunters and they harvest dreams which are then transmitted to the general public for the purposes of entertainment, therapy, or terror and political coercion. Fifteen-year-old cousins Laura Hame and Rose Tiebold both come from famous dreamhunting families, but only Laura proves to be blessed with the gift and once inside The Place she finds out what happened to her missing dreamhunter father and reveals how the government has used dreams to control an ever-growing population of convicts and political dissenters.
"Fascinating. Will surely lure readers back for multiple readings." —Starred, Publishers Weekly
"A lyrical, intricate and ferociously intelligent fantasy . . .Satisfies fully while pointing to the promised sequel. Provocative and compelling." —Starred, Kirkus Reviews
"Readers pining for a fantasist to rival Philip Pullman or Garth Nix may have finally found what they seek in New Zealander Knox." —Starred, Booklist
“Attention-getting.” —Chicago Tribune
"This series opener is a satisfying soap opera for young fantasy readers who enjoy intricate prose." —VOYA
"Powerfully portrayed . . . It will appear to lovers of fantasy set in the real world, who will eagerly await the resolution in the second volume." —School Library Journal
"Knox effectively evokes the curious intersections and distances between the ordinary, earthly world and the parched otherworldly landscape of the place." —Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Knox's writing is rich and interesting. A highly original exploration of the idea of a collective unconscious." —The Horn Book
Advance praise for Dreamhunter:
“Dreamhunter will find a large and enthusiastic audience
among those who’ve grown up with Margaret Mahy, grown
out of Harry and Hermione, or run out of Lyra and Will
. . . Knox hits all the marks of adolescent fantasy fiction:
gifted young people, powerful but absent parents, a
mysterious place that both nurtures and threatens, a
frightening conspiracy to be unraveled en route to maturity . . . This time next year, we’ll all be queuing for the sequel.”
– Jolisa Gracewood, New Zealand Listener
“Dazzlingly inventive . . . In a book that is full of tenderness
and family affection as well as presentiments of corruption
and horror, Knox beguiles with vibrantly realized detail . . .
A tantalizing feat of imaginative fiction.”
– Katharine England, Magpies magazine(Australia)
Chorley turned and waved before he disappeared. Laura stared at the empty, sun-splashed path. She saw black bush bees zipping back and forth through the air above the nettles and heard the muffled roar of Whynew Falls, where the rest of the party were headed.
Laura and Rose; Laura's father, Tziga; and her aunt Grace were sitting under a sign. The sign read, CAUTION: YOU ARE NOW ONLY 100 YARDS FROM THE BORDER TO THE PLACE.
"The falls are loud today," Tziga said. "It must have poured up in the hills."
They listened to the cascade pound and thump. Laura, who had never been allowed near the falls, tried to imagine how they would sound up close.
Her father said, "Think how startled Chorley would be if one of these girls suddenly skipped up behind him."
Aunt Grace squinted at Laura's father. "What do you mean?"
"Come on, Grace. Why don't we just getup and wander along that way?"
"Tziga!" Grace was shocked. Laura and Rose were too. The family had owned a summer house at nearby Sisters Beach for ten years, and at least once a year they would go with friends for a picnic up in the old beech forest. Every summer those who could would continue along the track to see the falls. And every summer the girls were forced to wait at the sign with their dreamhunter parents. Tziga Hame and Grace Tiebold couldn't go and view Whynew Falls themselves because, one hundred yards from the honest and accurate warning sign, they would cross an invisible border. They would walk out of the world of longitude and latitude, and into a place called simply the Place. Tziga and Grace could no more continue on to Whynew Falls than Laura's uncle Chorley could walk into the Place. Uncle Chorley, like almost everyone else, couldn't go there. Tziga and Grace were part of a tiny minority for whom the rules of the world were somewhat different.
"Come on, Grace," said Tziga. "Why should we make the girls go through all the ceremony of a Try? It's only for the benefit of the Regulatory Body, so they can see their rules enforced. Why can't we just find out now, in a minute, in private?"
Rose wailed, "It's against the law!"
Tziga glanced at Rose, then looked back at Grace. He was a quiet man, self-contained, secretive even-but his manner had changed. His face had. Laura thought that looking at him now was like peering into a furnace-its iron doors sprung open on fire. Her father was a small man. He was a mess, as usual, his shirt rumpled and grass-stained, his cream linen jacket knotted around his waist, his hat pushed back on his dark, springy hair. Laura's aunt Grace wasn't any better turned out. Both dreamhunters were thin, tanned, and dry-skinned, as all dreamhunters became over time. Rose was already taller than her spare and weathered mother. She was white and gold and vivid, like her father, Chorley, and like Chorley's sister, Laura's dead mother. Laura had, unfortunately, not inherited her mother's stature or coloring. She was little and dark, like her father. But-Laura thought-her father, though small and shabby, still had the aura belonging to all great dreamhunters. She liked to imagine that the aura was a residue of the dreams they'd carried. For when Tziga Hame and Grace Tiebold ventured into the Place, dreams were what they brought back with them. Dreams that were more forceful, coherent, and vivid than those supplied to all people by their sleeping brains. Dreams they could share with others. Dreams they could perform, could sell.
Laura's father was saying, "We were pioneers, Grace. You didn't 'Try,' you crept past the cairn beyond Doorhandle early one morning when there wasn't a soul on the road. Do you remember? That moment was all your own. There wasn't anyone standing by with a clipboard and contracts."
Laura saw that her aunt had gone pale. Grace stood up. Laura thought Grace meant to walk away, back toward the road, to go off in a huff and put an end to Laura's father's crazy talk. But then she saw Grace turn to look up the track toward the border.
Laura's heart gave a thump.
Her father got to his feet too.
Rose didn't move. She said, "Wait! What about our Try? You've even bought us outfits-our hats with veils."
"Rose thinks she's a debutante," Laura's father said.
"I do not!" Rose jumped up. "All right, I'll go! I'll go now! I'm not scared. I was only trying to follow the law. But if you don't care about it, why should I?"
"Good," said Laura's father. He offered his hand to Laura. She looked at it, then took it and let him help her up. She busied herself brushing dry moss from her skirt. The others began to amble slowly along the path. Laura caught up with them and gave her hand to Rose, who took it and squeezed it tight. Rose's hand was cold, much cooler than the air, which, even in the shade of the forest, was as marinated in heat as the open paddocks, the dusty roads, and the beaches of Coal Bay. Rose's hand was chilly, her palm coated with sweat.
Around the first bend was another, very similar. The track was flanked by black beech trunks. The sun angled in and lit up bright green nettles and bronze shoots of supplejack.
"I guess we won't see the Place until we're there," said Rose.
"That is right," Grace said. "There's nothing to see. No line on the ground."
Tziga said, "The border is around the next corner."
They didn't slow, or hurry. Laura felt that their progress was almost stately. She felt as though she were being escorted up the aisle, or perhaps onto a scaffold.
She didn't want to know yet. It was too soon.
In two weeks Laura and Rose were due to Try. Any person who wanted to enter the Place for the first time had to do so under the eye of an organization called the Dream Regulatory Body. The Body had been set up ten years before. It employed rangers-those who could go into the Place but couldn't carry dreams out of it-to patrol the uncanny territory and its borders. The dream parlors, salons, and palaces in which working dreamhunters performed had to obey laws enforced by the Regulatory Body and its powerful head, the Secretary of the Interior, Cas Doran. The parlors, salons, and palaces were businesses and had to have licenses. Dreamhunters, too, had to have licenses. A Try was the first step on the road to a license, and a livelihood.
The Body held two official Tries a year-one in early spring and one in late summer. Each Try found hundreds of teenagers lined up at the border. It wasn't compulsory to Try, but many did as soon as they were allowed, because dreams represented a guarantee of work and the possibility of wealth and fame. Any children who showed an inclination-vivid dreaming, night terrors, a tendency to sleepwalk-were thought, by hopeful families, to have a chance at the life. A dreamhunter or ranger in the family was another indicator of potential talent. More boys than girls Tried, since parents were more permissive with boys, and the candidates were, by and large, in their midteens. The earliest age of a Try was legally set at fifteen.
Rose and Laura had celebrated their fifteenth birthdays that summer.
Walking along the Whynew Falls track hand in hand with her cousin, Laura felt desperately unprepared for an impromptu Try. Every night that summer as she'd put her head down on her pillow, she had mentally ticked off another day-the time narrowing between her and her life's big deciding moment. She had felt as though she were hurtling down a slope that got steeper and steeper the farther she fell. For Laura knew that, after her Try, she would either be in her father's world or remain at her school-Founderston Girls' Academy. She would have a calling or be free to continue her education, to travel, to "come out" when she was sixteen and appear at every ball that season. If she was free, Laura knew she'd inherit the Hame wealth-but not the Hame glamour. And, free, she would lose Rose, because Rose fully expected to walk into the Place, fall asleep there, dream, and carry back her dreams intact, vivid, and marvelous. For Rose had already been into the Place, had been a number of times, because Grace Tiebold had gone on catching dreams when she was pregnant with Rose. (When her sister-in-law Verity said to her, "Did you ever think that you would go there and leave the baby behind?" Grace had put a hand on her stomach and laughed at Verity-also pregnant-saying, "Oh! Darling! What a bloody thought.")
As Laura approached the bend around which her father had said the border would be, she began to drag her feet. Rose gave her hand a sharp tug. "Come on," she whispered. "Stick with me."
"Tziga," said Grace. "Just tell me this-why now? We could have tried last year, or the year before, or when they were only ten. We could have whipped them across quickly when they were really tiny, and they wouldn't even have known where they were. We would have learned whether they could cross or not, and just waited to make it official."
Laura saw her father shake his head at Grace, but he didn't answer her.
"Why do you need to know now?" Grace asked again.
Laura gave a little sob of tension. Then she crashed into her aunt, who had suddenly stopped in her tracks. "Jesus!" Grace said. They all stepped on one another. When Laura righted herself, she saw a ranger approaching along the path.
The man came up to them. He looked, in quick succession, surprised, suspicious, and polite. "Mr. Hame, Mrs. Tiebold," he said respectfully. "Good day to you. Are you going In?" Then he looked beyond the adults at the two girls. He stared pointedly.
"No, of course not," said Grace. "We are just waiting for my husband and our friends. They went along to the falls."
"I see," said the ranger. He stood blocking their path. He cleared his throat. "Perhaps it would be wiser to take these young ladies back to the sign."
"We do know exactly where the border is," Grace said, frosty. "It isn't as if it moves."
"It is very well marked," Tziga said, neutral. "We're not likely to make any mistakes."
"But you can't always keep your hand on your children near the border-best not to go too near." The ranger was quoting a bit of the Regulatory Body's official advice, saying something he no doubt had to say to many people on his patrols. But because he was addressing the undisputed greatest dreamhunters-one of them the very first-he at least had the decency to blush. "I'm very sorry," he said.
"We're not dopes, you know," Rose said, indignant. "Laura and I are Trying in two weeks, for heaven's sake. Why would we spoil that by sneaking across now?"
"It is better to be careful," the ranger said. He focused on a point above Rose's bleached straw sun hat and composed himself into a stiff state of official dignity. He looked blockheaded.
"Come on, girls," Grace said. She turned Rose and Laura around and propelled them back along the track.
Laura swallowed hard to suppress her sigh of relief.
The ranger hovered for a moment. He seemed to realize that Tziga Hame meant to stay put, so he followed Grace and the girls.
* * *
At Whynew Falls, Laura's uncle Chorley Tiebold filmed the other picnickers as they requested. He shot them pointing up at the waterfall, wet from spray. He filmed them jostling and giggling at the pool's edge.
When he was finished, Chorley packed up his movie camera, hoisted it onto his shoulder, and followed his neighbors back along the track. He was itching to return to his workshop in Summerfort, the family's house at Sisters Beach. He wanted to see whether he'd managed to capture on film the scales of shadow pushing down the white face of the cascade. Chorley picked up his pace to catch up with the others. He passed the orange-painted circle of tin tacked to a tree trunk-the border marker. He went on a few steps, then for some reason glanced back. He saw the track, tree ferns, gray, knotted sinews of a redbush vine. Then he saw a flicker of color and shadow in the air, and his brother-in-law, Tziga, materialized on the track behind him.
Chorley flinched. He had filmed this phenomenon-people passing into and out of the Place on its busiest border post, the cairn beyond Doorhandle. It was Chorley's best-known film; he'd sold copies to all corners of the world. Everyone wanted to know just what it looked like-and that it didn't look like trick photography. It didn't. It was a quiet, unfussy, terrifying sight. The only time Chorley had seen it and hadn't felt frightened was when, shortly before they married, he and Grace had played a stalking game in the long grass on the bluff above the river at Tricksie Bend. Grace, inside the Place, hadn't known where Chorley would be outside of it, and he hadn't known where she would emerge. She jumped back and forth, sometimes startled to find he was close by and could grab her. It had made Chorley anxious, made his heart ache to see Grace come and go like that-go where he couldn't follow. But it was magical too.
"There you are," said Tziga. "You always come last when you're carrying your camera." He stepped around Chorley and walked ahead of him, turning back now and then to speak. Looking up, for Chorley was quite a bit taller. "You know-there's far too much interest in Laura's and Rose's Try," he said.
Chorley couldn't remember anyone mentioning the girls' Try at the picnic. Not even Rose, who grew more excited the nearer the event came. He said, "I may be following you, Tziga"-he poked his brother-in-law with the legs of his camera-"but I don't follow you."
"There's too much interest in the outcome of their Try. That's all I'm saying. I don't want them besieged with publicity, or contracts."
"That's why we've bought them hats with veils, to keep their faces out of the newspapers," Chorley said. "To keep it all as private as possible. We could, at least, all agree to do that much. You do realize that I've been trying to talk to you-and Grace-about this for months now?"
"I know. But there was never any question that they'd Try as soon as the law allowed."
Chorley took one hand off his precious camera to grab Tziga's arm. "I questioned it," he said. "The law can say what it likes, but I think they're still too young."
"They want to Try," Tziga said. He looked very unhappy.
Chorley said, "Rose wants to-Laura just doesn't want to be left out." He watched Tziga's face go remote. Even Chorley, who knew his brother-in-law better than anyone, couldn't tell whether Tziga was offended, angry to be told something about his own daughter that he should know himself, or whether he had just dropped down into a colder and deeper reach of his usual sadness. "Tziga," Chorley said, and gave the arm he held a little shake. He was annoyed with himself for poking the chisel of his complaints into this crack in his brother-in-law's certainty. "Look," he said, "it'll soon be over. It'll be decided one way or the other."
Chorley told Tziga to get a move on. The others would wonder where they were. "You do know it will be all right whatever happens," he said as they went along. "I'm not a dreamhunter, and I'm all right. Grace and you are dreamhunters, and you are too-all right, I mean. Aren't you?" He gave Tziga yet another chance to confide in him, to tell him why, lately, he'd seemed so hunted.
Tziga just made a faint affirmative noise, then asked Chorley if this was the camera Chorley wanted him to take into the Place.
Chorley immediately forgot his worries. "Yes," he said. "Are you saying you will? Finally?"
Tziga said yes, he'd take Chorley's camera In tomorrow.
Chorley was rapt, and for the next hour, long after they'd caught up with the others, he talked. He gave instructions, advice, almost gave a shooting script for the film he most wanted to make but couldn't make himself.
Tziga interrupted only once, when they reached the cars, which were parked at the gate of the farm beside Whynew Falls Reserve. He said to Grace, "There he is," and tilted his head in the direction of a man in a duster coat, a shadow against the tangled trunks of the whiteywood forest.
Excerpted from Dreamhunter by Elizabeth Knox Copyright © 2005 by Elizabeth Knox. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted December 9, 2010
I read this book based on a recommendation of another author that I enjoy. I loved this story!! It was original in so many ways, definitely not predictable. Absolutely loved both of the books in the duet.
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Posted March 2, 2012
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Posted February 27, 2012
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.
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Posted May 3, 2011
The Place is where dreamhunters go to find dreams. Dreams that are very different than the ones we have ourselves. These dreams can be shared and shown in a way similar to our movies. Only a select few have the ability to capture dreams from the Place and share them with other nearby sleepers. Laura and her father are two of these people.
When Laura's father, the first dreamhunter known to exist, disappears she has to follow a strange trail of clues to find out what he was working on. A trail that leads to many disturbing discoveries. Will she have to strength to carry on and follow in his footsteps, or will she instead choose to follow the status quo and let his knowledge disappear as he did?
I found the story fascinating. There were so many different levels of relationships and personalities that were explored without making the characters overly complicated. The world was where the author lost me a little. There was so much that I just didn't understand. While it was all made clear as the story continued on, I feel like there were many things that I missed and would have understood or appreciated more had I known more about the world itself. It led to a bit of a disjointed story.
Posted December 15, 2009
Posted November 6, 2009
Very rarely are authors able to invent a truly original fantasy, and even among that group, only a select few are able to take that original idea and make it into a compelling, well-written novel. Fortunately, both are definitely the case with this book. Knox, who is usually an adult writer took a stab at some young adult fantasy fiction and has executed it brilliantly. The world is tangible as are its rules. The characters are real, and are involved in more than 'banding together against a great evil to save the world', which is an all too-often used plot in fantasy books and young adult books alike.
There are many subplots, factions between the characters, and political and historical intrigue throughout the text. The relationships between characters is as complex as the characters themselves, and, in many ways, this reads like excellent fiction that happens to be set in a fantasy world. The aesthetics, dialogue, and use of language is, to Knox's credit, written splendidly. I recommend this book to all readers 13+, and I hope the sequel will be just as good.
-Lindsey Miller, www.lindseyslibrary.com
Posted October 28, 2009
Posted October 17, 2009
I purchased this book twice and tried to read it both times. I got as far as chapter 7 or 8 and still was lost and no interest was there in the story to keep me reading. This book was a let down.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 5, 2009
I read this series last year and I still often ponder the underlying meanings and philosophies of the story. The characters are deep and though the story is obviously fantasy, the psychological parallels to our world are very realistic. I enjoyed this series immensely, and highly recommend it. As an avid reader who reads over 100 books every year, I found this one to be unforgettable!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 17, 2008
I thought that it was a little slow starting, because I did't understand it. I soon thought differently. I absolutely love this book!!! I can't wait to read the second one!!! I thought that it was so thrilling and I just could not get enough of it!!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 17, 2007
This book was ridiculous long and tells the reader a short plot. I read this book not because I wanted to I was forced to read it and I tried my best to like it but it was just too long and I felt like the story wasn¿t moving along. I wouldn¿t say it was bad, I just think that the author is very detailed and you can visualize the scene but the story line was moving so slowly. Its okay but I just didn¿t like the fact that it was long and basically I felt like I wasted my time reading it. It¿s about this girl name Laura who has a cousin name Rose and they did everything together until they TRIED out for becoming dreamers and Laura gets accepted but not Rose. But both of their parents are dream hunters and Laura¿s dad is famous for catching dreams. Then one day Laura¿s dad disappears and now Laura wants to figure what happen to him. No one knows if he is alive or not. She is now trying to fit unsolved puzzles to find her father, by the way she does not have a mom. That¿s pretty much it. I think the author could have shortened it down. And now I have to read the second book and find out what happens.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 25, 2006
I really loved this book. From the moment i started it i found it intriguing and very suspenseful. The plot was very unique and i found that i never lost intrest in it. The book ended and left me eager to read the next book in the duet.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 18, 2006
I was really excited when I found this book. I thought the title was intriging and the prologue was interesting. When I started reading it, I thought it was pretty good. But once I hit page 80, everything changed. I was incredibly confused . . . there was too much to remember to even follow the book like the Try, the Rainbow Opera, and stuff like that. The book just seemed to drag on and on and on. By the time I got to page 100, I was pretty much skimming through the whole book. The only reason I gave it 2 stars was because I liked the beginning, but everything, pretty bad.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 10, 2010
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Posted January 31, 2010
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Posted April 28, 2010
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Posted December 30, 2009
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