Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
This is a spoiler free review. You do not need to have read The Daughter of Smoke and Bone to read this — it is completely separate.
If you’re anywhere near the Bookstagram or Twitter community, you know all about the excitement and anticipation surrounding the release of Laini Taylor’s Strange the Dreamer. Like Caraval, this book had so much hype in the weeks leading up to its release. However, unlike Caraval, Strange the Dreamer exceeded my expectations. This is a tale as gorgeous and sumptuous as its beautiful cover.
The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.
What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?
The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?
Welcome to Weep.*
Lazlo Strange lives in a world fit for a fairy tale. This is the kind of tale you’d imagine a character in a fantasy novel would tell. Taylor does an incredible job building a world that dazzles, frightens, and inspires the reader. She doesn’t just create a place for her characters to interact, she creates cultures, histories, and mythologies that suit the story so beautifully. It feels organic, as though they are plucked from an existing and exotic place.
There are a number of wonderful and sympathetic characters in the book. No one is exactly as they seem, no one fit the mould they are cast in. I can understand the motivation of every single character main and secondary character we meet – no easy feat. I don’t want to say too much because you should go into this book not knowing much, but I will say that Lazlo Strange himself is lovely, but bland in comparison to everyone else, and he’s a wonderful character. Sarai is one of my absolute favorite characters in recent fiction, and I’ll leave it at that. I truly loved every character in this book – from good to bad – because everyone was complex and had a level of grey area to them.
Overall, Strange the Dreamer is a stunning novel. It does exactly what good fantasy should – it sweeps you away into another world filled with gods and monsters where the most ordinary people can do extraordinary things. I turned each page in wide-eyed wonder as the hours flew past. No book has made me feel quite like this in a long time.
Have you read Strange the Dreamer? Is it on your TBR list? Want to have a spoilery discussion? Let me know!
*Copy courtesy of Goodreads