Dreamhunter and Dreamquake by Elizabeth Knox are two volumes, but one complete story, so I am reviewing them together.
Laura and Rose are about to take the test that will determine if they
are dreamhunters -- individuals who can enter The Place and capture
dreams to bring home and share with others in the glittering Dream
Palaces of the city. Both girls have a famous dreamhunter parent, but
while Rose confidently believes that she will be able to cross into The
Place, Laura is less certain that she will be able to . . . or that she
even wants to. Laura's father, the famous Tziga Hume, was the first-ever
dreamhunter, first to enter The Place when it mysteriously appeared
twenty years ago, but now Tziga seems haunted, and Laura wonders why.
When Tziga disappears after his most recent foray into The Place, Laura
is left on her own to figure out her role. There are many mysteries that
Laura must unravel: what happened to her father? What had he been doing
in The Place that caused him so much mental anguish? What is The Place,
and why did it so mysteriously appear?
I am not doing this duet
of books justice, because I'd hate to give something away. This is a
wonderful, thoughtful fantasy set at the turn of the 20th century in an
alternate New Zealand. The setting is fully realized, the characters are
complex and morally conflicted in realistic ways, and the plot is
intricate and thought-provoking. This isn't a story to race through, but
it's what I think of as "chewy" -- you'll want to take time to savor
it, to speculate on what's coming up and to work through surprising new
twists. I've never read anything quite like this, though I'd recommend
it to fans of Jonathan Stroud and Philip Pullman. One word of caution:
be sure to have the second book on hand when you start the first,
because the first book ends abruptly (frustratingly so, to readers who
picked it up when it first came out, I'd imagine) and the second book
picks up just where the first leaves off.
(Reviewed from my personally purchased copies.)