I’m here today to talk about my most recent read (and my last one of 2019), Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. This book was released in 2017 and had a huge amount of hyper surrounding it. I’ve had a copy a looong time. However, a part of me put off reading it because Laini’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy didn’t impress me very much. And since that trilogy also had a lot of hype talking it up, I was nervous for this book. However, I went to a Cassandra Clare signing last year and Laini was the moderator of the night, and she was also signing books. I bought the second book in this series, Muse of Nightmares, and had her sign it. She was also super nice and friendly, and she personalized my copy 🙂 She also lives in Portland, Oregon, which is my city. Because of this, I decided it was finally time to give this book a real shot.
I had no idea what to expect going into this book. I hadn’t read any reviews recently and couldn’t recall the main plot. I didn’t even read the summary on the jacket before diving in. Sometimes hype is the enemy of enjoying a book, no matter how good it is. I wanted my expectations neutral. However, I’m happy to say that I really enjoyed this book! It did start a little slow, so it took me a few days to get into it. I’d say around the 70-page mark, I started feeling invested in the characters.
The actual plot is one that’s very unique. The idea of a whole city lost to the world, not even it’s name left behind to remember, by a simple act of magic, feels possible in this fantasy world. However, when we meet Lazlo, one of the main protagonists, everyone in his life calls him a Dreamer. I began to feel a kinship with him through his love for books and knowledge. This is a character who gets his human connections from fictional and historical worlds, through words. Familiar to anyone else? 😉 I didn’t connect quite as easily to the other protagonist, Sarai. She lives her life in a very difficult situation, but she has some pretty cool superpowers. At the beginning, she felt a little frivolous to me. However, we soon learn that her powers came with a cost. And that Gods used to rule this city that lost it’s name. And that many lives were lost during a fight for power between Gods and humans.
The writing of this book is beautiful. There are tons of quotable lines that read almost like poetry. And the way the history of our lost city is described, I felt sympathy for everyone involved. The “hero” was broken by his decisions. The survivors still live with fear in their hearts. I loved learning about this city through Lazlo’s eyes, because he made me see the beauty in the messiness of it.
“You’re a storyteller. Dream up something wild and improbable,” she pleaded. “Something beautiful and full of monsters.”
“Beautiful and full of monsters?”
“All the best stories are.”
My main issue, really only issue, with this book was the ending. Honestly, it was beyond frustrating, teetering on infuriating. I had so many feels that even though I own the sequel, but I had to take a break from this story and read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to relax my brain. 😂 However, I definitely do want to see how this story ends! I’m not sure I’m ready yet, though. I think I’ll put Muse of Nightmares on my February TBR. Overall, I enjoyed the creativity that went into this story, the lyrical writing, the character relationships, and the history given to this strange new world. I’m knocking off a star for the ending (although I suppose the sequel could make up for it) and giving this book 4 stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟.
I recommend it, just be prepared to feel all the things in the last chapter. I was not prepared. 😅
Cheers to a happy January! ☕️