Friday, February 20, 2009

Guest LitRec (moon.witche): Dreamhunter Duet by Elizabeth Knox

“When are you going to start reading real books?”

My mother has been asking me this question since I was thirteen years old. I am now twenty three and still my absolute favourite genre of book to read is a young adult fantasy-adventure with some romance thrown in. Does this mean I’m permanently stuck with the mentality and inelegant tastes of a thirteen year old?

First of all, no it doesn’t. Secondly, that misconception, that young teenagers are incapable of reading or appreciating intelligent literature with depth, is probably why my mother and so many other adults in my acquaintance refuse to give YA books any merit.

Some of the most entertaining, thought-provoking books I’ve ever read have been aimed at people between the ages of twelve and seventeen. These same books have featured themes around life and death, god and Satan, slavery and free will, psychology and physics. I have learned more from these books then I ever did in a high school classroom, unless I was reading one of these books in a high school classroom. Many of them have encouraged, almost demanded, that I go out and research more about the subjects alluded to within them.

Without YA books I never would have discovered my utter fascination with Schrodinger’s cat. Or my belief in the collective unconscious. I would never have learned how similar yet different the ancient religions are. No “adult” book has ever inspired me to research and learn more. No adult book has ever created in me the need to do my own writing.

When talking to smellyia online no matter what our conversation is actually about, joint ventures regarding fanfic, getting Skype to work properly, or writing articles for various blogs, books will come into the conversation. The conversation generally goes like this (and either one of us can be A or B):

A: Have you read this?

B: ooooo, no

A: you absolutely must! It’s about etc.

B: I will buy it tomorrow.

And ninety nine percent of the time we are talking about YA books. Thus the online conception of this article, in which I take time out of my week to recommend to you a wonderfully, intelligent YA book.

My first one is the Dreamhunter Duet by Elizabeth Knox

This book has political and family drama, mystery, fantasy, and most importantly, originality. Taking place in a time that resembles our early 1900s, it chronicles the journey of two fifteen year old cousins; one who is a dream hunter (meaning she can enter a special place, and catch dreams while sleeping there, bring them out to the people and share them with others who sleep near her) and one is not. Together they unearth a plot to overthrow the government and mystery within their own family about where dream hunting came from and how it is affecting their society.

The books are told with beautiful prose, the imagery of the three main landscapes (the ‘real’ world, the ‘place’ where dream hunters go to catch dreams, and the dreamscapes themselves) all have a distinct feel to the them and play in the theatre of my mind as clear as any movie has for my eyes.

The realism in the world and in the characters and in the situations makes any fantastical elements in this story completely believable. The author doesn’t normally write fantasy and it shows. None of the normal clichés are present and everything feels fresh and wholly new. I did not, at any point in the reading of these two books, have any idea where the story was going. The many twists and turns near the end took me completely by surprise. And while parts of the ending may not have completely matched up (I can’t be more specific without giving things away, but the author did it on purpose and I like the way it was done) I found it was actually a little relieving not to be bogged down by “scientific” explanations.

Instead it was a touching, emotionally satisfying ending that explained everything...except for one thing that still bugs me. I turn it over in my mind every now and then, its like visiting an old friend.

(Moon.witche is author of Echoes of an Enigma, and a host for the awesome podcast blog, Temptation Twilight. You can usually find her speaking of thespians, editing some sound file for the podcast and huffing indignantly when it goes awry because she knows as well as I that technology is secretly out to get us, or spreading love and being a generally kind and sweet-natured individual who is full of win and awesomenicity.)


  1. I am so thrilled to see this addition to TLYDF! I'm 26 and have been reading YA books pretty consistently for the past 2 years. They started as my wonderful escapism from a rigorous academic course load, but they have turned into one of my most favorite past times. I live for being able to curl up with, as you put it, "a young adult fantasy-adventure with some romance thrown in." Gah, that's heaven. My girlfriends initially teased me about my YA obsession, but it didn't take long for me to lure them in--I got them reading Twilight, and now they're begging me for more YA recs. Hah. It was only a matter of time.

    Thank you so much for starting this column. I will definitely check out Dreamhunter and can't wait to see other recs. I'm definitely in need of some new books.

  2. Good article, Caitlin, you've definitely convinced me to read these books! I like the sound of the whole dream thing. Have you ever read the Chrestomanci series by Diana Wynne-Jones? They're all about an enchanter who can enter and manipulate dreams, I think you'd like them.

  3. This was a really interesting post. I'm pretty new to fan fiction, so I'm totally shocked that people act this way!!
    I love this blog--it's where I come when I want suggestions on what to read, when I need a good laugh or when I just want to be awed by the abundant talent in Twilight fan fiction. Thanks for such a fabulous blog!!


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