The Dreamhunter Duet by Elizabeth Knox (Dreamhunter and Dreamquake, which really should be read back to back) only qualifies as an Honorable Mention as a Girls Underground story, but the books are so unique and fascinating that I wanted to profile them here anyway just to draw attention to them.
Laura is coming of age in 1905, in a world just like ours except for one thing – twenty years before, her father discovered the Place, a land invisible and inaccessible to most, but constituting a strange new world for a small percentage of people who can pass through the boundary. In the Place, there is no sun but it is always light, there is no color or moisture, and no signs of life – but for some special people, falling asleep there brings vivid dreams, dreams they can share with others once they return to the regular world and sleep next to them. Laura’s father becomes the most famous and powerful of these dreamhunters, although he has been emotionally distant since her mother died.
Laura and her cousin Rose – along with other teenagers – try their luck at entering the Place, and Laura succeeds. But her career as a dreamhunter is immediately threatened by her questionable talent for catching nightmares. She soon suspects there is a conspiracy surrounding the Place, led by the government entity in charge, and with her dreamhunter companion Sandy, Rose, and the rest of her family, begins to uncover it. Her closest companion, however, is a creature she makes out of sand and imbues with life via an old family magic she discovers.
Laura’s father disappears, along with many other dreamhunters, and Laura must get to the root of the nefarious plans by corrupt government agents (one in particular, who heads the dreamhunting regulatory body, is probably the primary adversary) that are threatening their whole world.
As I said, the story only loosely fits the Girls Underground plot. But it stands out for me amongst the many, many GU books I have read. Knox’s Place is a truly unique concept, especially once you discover what it really is, and how it came to be. The relationship between Laura and the man/monster she creates is also special and different. The setting of 100 years ago worked well for the story without being overly emphasized – it wasn’t a period piece per se, just one more aspect of an overall convincing and engaging story. Unfortunately, the best parts of these books are also the biggest spoilers, and in this case I don’t want to say too much. Go read them for yourself, it’s well worth it.