In the second book of her Dreamhunter “duet,” Elizabeth Knox brings a very satisfying close to her beautifully written, intricate fantasy. In the first novel, readers learn about the dry, barren Place, where only the few who are able to enter its borders can sleep and “catch” dreams, then “perform” them for others. Many dreams are comforting, relaxing, entertaining or scintillating; some others, however, are sinister and disturbing.
Laura Hame, the daughter of a famous “dreamhunter” who actually discovered the Place, finds she is able to enter the Place in the first book. But right around that time, her father starts acting very strangely and disappears. Laura is left with what she believes are some clues and instructions to follow, along with a strange helper. Laura’s “mission” to learn more, put the clues together and expose those who are perpetrating injustices becomes more involved and isolating as time goes on. At the same time that Laura is trying to better understand what is happening in the Place and why, readers are doing so as well. The mysteries of how and why the Place came to be at all, what Laura needs to do, and how her family figures into the puzzle become more complex before they become clear.
Dreamhunter ends with many questions; Dreamquake slowly begins answering them, making all the pieces of the puzzle start to come together. Knox paces each new bit of information perfectly, dropping in tiny, subtle hints to the reader about the big picture, making the novel impossible to put down.
However, the book is not about its mysteries as much as it is about a strong, loving family. Laura and her close-knit family members are all fleshed-out, sympathetic characters; their family unity resonates and draws readers in because of their devotion and goodness, yet it is made more compelling by their little quirks and even their mistakes. Their happiness is paramount in Laura’s and in readers’ minds, and her quest for answers is vital to their future as a family.
Dreamquake is an unparalleled fantasy, with a mature complexity on many levels. The end will have readers looking back not only to appreciate how each piece does fit in to the final picture, but also to savor the lovely relationships and deep human feelings, the beautiful poignancy that lingers, dreamlike, after the book’s final words. Ultimately, Knox’s story is one of love, hope and redemption and of the ties that bind with the softest but strongest cords.
Rated: Moderate, for teen readers. The book has some occasional uses of mild language. But it does have a scene of teen sex, which has very little detail. For adult readers, the book is mild.