“It is like nothing else I've ever read. The characters are so real, you'll feel like you know exactly what they look like and how their voices sound and what they would say or do in any given situation. More than that, you'll want to hang out with them. Then the world is so amazing and unique. You will want to go there. You will want to walk into ‘the Place.' And you will want to sleep in a dream opera.” Stephenie Meyer, The Twilight Saga
“Fascinating . . . will surely lure readers back for multiple readings.” Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“A lyrical, intricate and ferociously intelligent fantasy . . . satisfies fully while pointing to the promised sequel. Provocative and compelling.” Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
“Readers pining for a fantasist to rival Philip Pullman or Garth Nix may have finally found what they seek in New Zealander Knox.” Booklist, Starred Review
“Attention-getting.” Chicago Tribune
“This series opener is a satisfying soap opera for young fantasy readers who enjoy intricate prose.” Voice of Youth Advocates
“Powerfully portrayed . . . It will appeal to lovers of fantasy set in the real world, who will eagerly await the resolution in the second volume.” School Library Journal
“An engrossing blend of Edwardian civility, family love, and powerfully imagined dreamscape. . . . Knox's writing is rich and interesting.” The Horn Book Magazine
“Knox effectively evokes the curious intersections and distances between the ordinary, earthly world and the parched otherworldly landscape of the Place . . . the adventures of the Dreamhunters are pleasingly harrowing.” Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
“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)"
As the daughters of Dreamhunters, 15-year-old Laura and her cousin Rose wonder whether they too have that very special gift: the ability to catch larger-than-life dreams like butterflies and relay them to audiences in the Rainbow Opera. But when they go to test their powers, the two girls discover not a wondrous opportunity but a horrifying secret. Then, suddenly, Laura's father disappears, and the girls' dreams of dream-hunting begin cascading towards nightmare. An enthralling, original fantasy.
Knox's (The Vintner's Luck, for adults) debut for YA readers, the first in the Dreamhunter Duet, recalls Arkady and Boris Strugatsky's sci-fi masterpiece Roadside Picnic. Both tell of a mysterious geographic region (here called "the Place") with unusual powers and properties, and of the societal caste made up of those designated to explore it. The Place is where dreams originate; dreamhunters enter it, capture dreams in their minds, then return to "perform" them for the masses at the Rainbow Opera palace. The novel centers on 15-year-old Laura Hame, whose father Tziga is the legendary dreamhunter who discovered the Place as a young man. Laura is about to have her "Try," a coming-of-age ritual which will test her sensitivity to dreams. She succeeds and, a few days later, her father vanishes. Laura ventures into the Place to find him, but instead receives a letter from him, confiding in her the essence of the Place and saddling her with a terrible mission-to clear up a mess of his own making. Knox's fascinating story imagines the intersection of a haunting dream-world with a gritty real world. A Regulatory Body oversees dreamhunters as if they were mundane laborers, maps point out the exact spots in the Place where certain dreams reside, and an industry emerges to sell eager customers the exact dreams they seek. And what Laura learns about how the government really uses dreams (especially in prison reform) makes for biting commentary. This fully imagined world will surely lure readers back for multiple readings. Ages 12-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
In this stunning novel, the New Zealand writer's first novel for young adults, Knox establishes herself as one of the most mesmerizing voices writing for young readers today. Cousins Laura and Rose are awaiting the moment when they will be of age to make their life-defining "Try" to enter "the Place" to see if they have the rare gift to cross over the boundary from our world into the barren, dusty landscape of the hidden territory of dreams. There they could become licensed dreamhunters who capture dreams that they can share with others in elaborately staged performances in sumptuous dream palaces. Knox's creation of the history, geography, and magical dimension of Southland is absolutely convincing in every carefully constructed detail. The book reads like a richly realized historical novel, rather than a fantasy: maybe there really is somewhere on Earth "a whole territory hidden in a fold in a map." The shifting dynamics of the relationship between Rose and Laura, as each finds her way to a different destiny, are brilliantly observed in every psychological nuance; we know them as well as we know the members of our own family. The plot reveals a dark scheme of political intrigue, where the powers of the dreamhunters can be abused in the service of great evil, and builds to a shattering conclusion. The first of a projected "Dreamhunter Duet," this is a haunting and powerful book that will be long remembered. 2005, Farrar Straus and Giroux, Ages 12 up.
Claudia Mills, Ph.D.
Gr 5-9-Laura Hame and her cousin Rose, 14, live in a recognizable early-20th-century society, realistically portrayed but for one thing: "the Place," discovered about 20 years earlier by Laura's father. It lies outside geographical boundaries, and only select people are able to enter and experience dreams there. These dreamhunters then "perform" their received dreams for large theater audiences, and those in attendance go to sleep and experience them. At the time of this story, dreams have become big business and are embroiled in issues of social control (especially the control of prisoners) and power politics. When Laura's father disappears, the girl takes enormous risks first to try to find him, and then to complete his mission. While the author leaves tantalizing clues throughout the novel, the plot moves slowly at first. However, patient readers will find themselves rewarded by the riveting action in the final third of the book. Relationships between the characters, especially Laura and Rose, are given center stage, but their interaction flags in the middle of the book. Particularly touching is the relationship between Laura and a golem-type creature sculpted out of sand in the magical world of the Place. Dry, unchanging, with nothing either fully living or dead, no wind or sounds, it is eerily suffused with atmosphere and powerfully portrayed. This novel, the first of a "duet" of books, concludes neither with a cliffhanger nor at "the end," but in the middle of the action. It will appeal to lovers of fantasy set in the real world, who will eagerly await the resolution in the second volume.-Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
A lyrical, intricate and ferociously intelligent fantasy explores the ramifications of treating dreams as commodities. Laura Hame, the adolescent daughter of the first and most famous "dreamhunter," is content with her privileged life, dominated by her confident cousin Rose. Everything changes when she becomes one of the tiny minority able to enter the otherworldly "Place," where free-range dreams can be captured and brought back to be sold-for healing, for entertainment and for other, darker, purposes. But when Laura's father mysteriously disappears, she and Rose are thrust into a web of official intrigue and deceit, and Laura discovers that there is more to her heritage than she ever suspected. Knox starts off slowly, gradually piling on the details of two utterly convincing worlds-one reminiscent of a genteel, turn-of-the-century Australia, the other arid, unsettling and surreal-both of which mask underlying corruption and grim purpose. The characters display equal complexity, with hidden depths and tragic flaws. Once the plot gathers momentum, it builds inexorably to a nightmare climax that satisfies fully while pointing to the promised sequel. Provocative and compelling. (Fantasy. YA)