Category Archives: YA Historical Fiction

Dreamhunter and Dreamquake by Elizabeth Knox

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Without a doubt, Dreamhunter and Dreamquake are hands down some of the most original YA Sci-Fi/Fantasy I’ve read in AGES. Like seriously. No werewolves, no vampires, no paranormal romance. In Knox’s world (set in 1905), a select few are able to hike into the “Place”–a barren inter-dimensional desert-like wasteland full of dreams. Yep, kiddos, dreams. And in this world, dreams are sold as commodities.

Tziga Hame and Grace Tiebold were among the first Dreamhunters, and are by far the most famous. So, you can imagine how excited Tziga’s daughter Laura is to “Try.” Grace Tiebold’s daughter Rose is also up for her Try this year. To pass your Try, you must simply be able to step over the invisible line that separates our world from the Place. With dreamhunting comes fame and fortune, depending on how impressive your skills are. You can soothe people, influence them, torture them, and even grant their wildest fantasies.

Dream palaces are like hotels that people go to–to pay for the privilege of sleeping near a Dreamhunter. Anyone within their penumbra experiences the same dream. Pretty wild stuff.

But when our protagonist Laura finds out that the government may be using her father’s amazing ability to hurt people, she must find a way to stop them. Because, if you torture the dreamer you’re also torturing the Dreamhunter.

I LOVED LOVED LOVED these books. Some of my new favorites. I liked them so much that I am actually kinda pissed that these have been out for seven years and I haven’t seen ANY marketing or press for them at all. Even their covers are dull and drab. But, read them people! They need a movie for sure. They have crazy dreams, political intrigue, a smattering of romance, magic, and even a SANDMAN. Get it?? Dreams?! A sandman!!? Love it.

There were a few slow moments, for which I am taking away a star, but other than that this duet was unforgettable. Do it!

4 bites of Wakeful of 5

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Freaks: Alive, on the Inside! by Annette Curtis Klause

Oh Annette Curtis Klause. How I LOVED Blood and Chocolate all through my teenage years–it’s still actually one of my all time favorites. Definitely one of the greatest werewolf books of all time in my opinion. That’s why I was SO disappointed with Freaks: Alive, on the Inside! 

Not only is the title awkward and confusing, the cover is super cheesy. Ok, ok, never judge a book by its cover. I get that. Too bad the inside is just as cheese-tastic as the outside. 9780689870378_p0_v1_s260x420

The story is set in 1899 and follows Abel Dandy, a “normal” 17 year old boy born to circus freak parents. They live and perform in “Faeryland.” (This mislead me into believing he lived in a land of fairies–he doesn’t, it’s a midget town). Abel decides he wants to leave his circus and pursue his knife-throwing act in a bigger show. So after a palm reading from a tiny fortune teller, he sets off.

What he doesn’t realize is that there’s a seedy underbelly to many traveling shows, and a tagalong friend puts both of them in danger. And the “older foreign lady” he is predicted to fall in love with is A LOT older than anticipated.

I get the idea Klause had and the direction she was trying to go. I really enjoyed the Egyptian theme, but I hated Abel’s voice. He was a horny 17 year old boy, but the vernacular sounded like a goody-two-shoes little kid. And the names! Oh my lord. So lame. Besides Abel Dandy, we have: Billy Sweet, Ruby Lightfoot, Willie Northstar, Mr. Bopp, Dr. Mink, Mr. Marvel… The list goes on. If the book was more tongue-in-cheek maybe it would’ve worked better.

I would’ve totally guessed this was Klause’s first novel, not one of her more recent. Skip it.

2 dog-faced boys of 5


The Kingdom on the Waves, Octavian Nothing Book II by M.T. Anderson

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I read Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation The Pox Party several years back and I thought I’d finally give it’s ending a go. But PHEW, The Kingdom on the Waves is not a joke. I give mad props to Anderson for researching American history as much as he did, even the language he got spot on. But damn. I have a MUCH higher than average vocabulary and even I found myself reaching for the dictionary every few pages. The fact that this book was written for teenagers is kind of staggering.

It follows the adventures of well-educated mulatto Octavian after his and his tutor’s escape from the College of Lucidity–where he previously learned they had educated him and studied him only to determine if Negros were an equal race to whites. Dr. Trefusis and himself stumble into British-occupied Boston during the Revolutionary War and must quickly take sides. They decide to get on board with Lord Dunmore, who promises freedom to any black man who joins his counter-revolutionary army.

Too bad Lord Dunmore’s offer isn’t as great as it seems. A dirty politician?? Who would’ve guessed it?!

Parts of TKOTW read as Octavian’s personal diary and his experiences with the war. He also learns some new information about his late mother. The other part is predominately letters from politicians and generals trying to bring the war to some conclusion. Meanwhile, Octavian is reduced to laboring and killing and watching his friends be cut down beside him. Nasty stuff.

I think Anderson gets 5 out of 5 stars for research and linguistic accuracy, but for readability… not so much. The book wasn’t as boring as it was difficult and too wordy in many places. Sometimes I caught myself reading aloud to piece together what they were talking about. I get that this demonstrated the supreme intelligence of Octavian and his tutor, but come on!

If you’re writing a book for youngsters, make it a little more digestible, will ya?

3 musket balls of 5

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(See? Cairo even found it tiresome!)