Friday, May 17, 2013

Unique Fantasy Duet

Stella recommended this pair of books to me a year ago, or more. 
I keep lists. 
The recommendation was not forgotten. 
And I'm glad.

This duet surprised me.  Author Elizabeth Knox is a New Zealander and I loved her writing.  First surprise.  (I've had bad experiences in this department, hasn't everybody?)   Knox's writing is lyrical and deliberate, slow and thoughtful.  I wouldn't say it is something I'm always craving (pacing is so important to me, and these are on the slower side -- but this feels careful rather than painful), but these are a lovely journey to take when you're looking for new talent and something special and different.  I needed talent after my disappointment with Clare.
Dreamhunter, Elizabeth Knox (Book 1)
  • The story and world are so strong and so original that I kept feeling as though I was reading a classic -- something that had already proven its worth for a century of readers; that I was reading something that deserved my time.  Essence of set-up without spoilers: the people of the story's world live near "the Place" -- a place where dreams may be gathered and brought back by a select few who can do so, to share through communal sleep.
  • The characters say things worth saying (yes, read into this whining about Clare still)
  • The relationships between the core group of friends and family is more important than romance.

Dreamquake, Elizabeth Knox (Book 2)
  • While the writing remains strong in Book 2, I grew a tad impatient with this book.  I still enjoyed it...but I was conscious of the time it was taking to read the book. 
  • The novel's climax arrives around three quarters of the way through, and from then on it feels like a wind-down.  But in retrospect, it is a satisfying close, even if it doesn't pack a huge punch.
  • I unfortunately didn't connect with the love story or love interest at all, which is a shame.  This didn't ruin the book, because I don't think this book is a love story.  Not romantic love, anyway.  It's a sideline.
  • And oddly, while I didn't mind the protagonist's voice (she's an intelligent youth, not a bumbling whino), her choices and emotional responses more than once surprised and confused me. 
  • Again, I closed the book and felt I'd finished something timeless, epic and classic...and that I'd never read anything quite like it.  I think it retells well, too -- the kind of tight and original story that you could tell to your child from memory over a week of bedtimes.  
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