________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 21 . . . . June 8, 2007


Dreamhunter. (Dreamhunter Duet, Book One).

Elizabeth Knox.
Toronto, ON: Viking Canada/Penguin Group, 2005.
365 pp., cloth, $20.00.
ISBN 978-0-670-06431-1.

Grades 8 and up / Ages 13 and up.

Review by Ronald Hore.

***½ /4


"Being sullen doesn’t suit you," Rose said, annoyed.

"You sound like your mother," Laura said, “Telling me to be ‘ladylike.’ No one ever says that to you! They think you won’t need to be." She lay down and began to cry. "They think you’’ll succeed and I won’t. I’ll have to be ‘careful of my station in life,’ like the women in novels about women who make mistakes and end up miserable."

"Laura," Rose said. She stroked her cousin’s back. "You’ve got it all wrong. They don’t say those things to me because I bite their heads off. Instead they pretend to be brightly positive about me and all my habits. ‘Rose is a big, robust, forthright girl,’ they say, as if by describing me I’ll start feeling properly self-conscious and pull my head in. It doesn’t have anything to do with our Try and what they think of our chances. Your da never tells you to be ladylike. Nor does mine. Your da is too artistic, and my da is a real gentleman and a lot less worried about being proper than poor nervous Ma and our teachers. Our teachers have had to think about being respectable to get ahead themselves. And Ma was poor. She’s had to put up with all sorts of snubs since she got rich and married Da. Ma’s worried about both of us, but only you ever listen to her when she goes on about how we should be ‘ladylike.’"

Dreamhunter is the first book of two (hence the name "Duet") in a tale that opens with two 15-year-old girls in a world very similar in many ways to our own and set in the year 1905. We have stagecoaches, steam trains and early automobiles. Much is familiar, except for "Dreamhunting." There is an area of the land known simply as "The Place." People who have the gift can enter this Place, pick up dreams, and then share these dreams with others. Dreamhunters can become wealthy using this talent. The best among them may share their gift with several people at once in elaborate settings, such as the Rainbow Opera House. Children are allowed to attempt to enter the Place to see if they have the talent to Dreamhunt once they reach the age of five. This attempt is called the Try. In this book, both the girls who are the central characters have reached the age when they are eligible to Try.

     The setting seems like a much gentler time than ours, although you feel the growing power of a government that may be corrupt and the commissions set up to control the dreamers and their hunting. Dreaming is also used as therapy for the sick and to control prisoners. Part of the tale is told through the dreams the Dreamhunters experience.

     The two main characters are Laura Hame and her cousin, Rose Tiebold. Laura’s mother is deceased. and her father, Tziga, is a famous Dreamhunter. Rose’s father is Chorley Tiebold, a wealthy man interested in the answers to several questions, and her mother, Grace, is another famous and highly respected Dreamhunter. Chorley often has the difficult duty of keeping an eye on the two young ladies. Tziga is the man who first discovered the Place. Early on, Tziga disappears. He may be dead; he may be confined by the government because he knows something they don’t want made public.

     The story becomes in part a mystery, in part a tale of two girls growing up. The book is well written and often in a language that takes you back to that earlier age of innocence. The author is from New Zealand, and, as you read the description of the settings, you will notice small things that may be slightly different to what the North American reader is used to, such as eucalyptus trees. The reader will be eager to read the next volume in the series.

     The book consists of 365 pages and has a couple of sketch maps that should help keep the reader aware of the location of most of the events. The publisher recommends the book for ages 12 and up. That may be a bit young for some readers as there are a few more adult themes such as the loss of a parent as well as the normal pains of growing up at 15. I suspect that several older readers, including adults, will enjoy the story as well as it never talks down to them.

Highly Recommended.

Ronald Hore, involved with writer’s groups for several years, retired from the business world in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.