The Dream Quake picks up the pieces and knits them together. Why the Place sprang into being; whose dreams are being dreamt so powerfully; the nature of Laura's affinity with the place; all are explained, and come clear as part of the same story. Though it's not entirely Laura's story -- and, in a way that reminds me of Philip Pullman's female characters, Laura is a flawed and occasionally unlikeable protagonist, rather than one of the sweet-but-strong heroines who pervade YA fantasy.
Perhaps it's the story of Laura's golem, her sand-man (not to be confused with her friend Sandy, oh no!), as much as it's Laura's own tale. The story of the doggerel spell that Laura chanted to make him, and the letters that she inscribes on his body -- to give him free will, speech and self.
It's also the story of the original dreamer, and of the messages that are surfacing in telegrams and coded signals -- messages that weren't there when the telegram was sent.
It's the story of Lazarus, who died and lived again.
And the story of Rose, who may not be a dreamhunter, but nevertheless possesses a talent that her cousin lacks.
As Laura and her family try to make sense of the dreams, and simultaneously foil the repressively conservative plans of politician Cas Doran, a whole new future appears like a shadow overlaying the narrative of the book. It's not a nice future, but a desolate one: a future reminiscent of the American Depression ...
I got into trouble because people did, in the years when things were at their worst, with the bread lines and the men walking the roads looking for work.
Somewhere there's a shallow grave. Somewhere there's a bleak future. Somewhere, there's dreams that show not just the injustices, but the beauty of human life that injustice is a blasphemy against. Perhaps that future can be prevented: perhaps fate isn't immovable.
I keep finding more allusions -- is the earthquake a reference to the quake that levelled Napier in 1931? If I turn the map just so, does it mirror the actual geography of New Zealand? There are dreams mentioned, or mapped, but never described: what's in those? And what happens in the history of the dreamer?
Knox's prose is straightforward and plain, but with the most amazingly succinct poetry to it. Her teenaged girls are stroppy teenagers. Her characters make mistakes. I loved the scenario of The Rainbow Opera: The Dream Quake fulfils my hopes of the plot.