Book: Strange the Dreamer
Series: Strange the Dreamer, #1
Author: Laini Taylor
Genre: YA Fantasy
My rating: ★★★★★
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.
I really don’t know how Laini Taylor was able to string such gorgeous, melodic words together. Here I am, staring at this blank page, trying to figure out how to even form normal words. I wish I’d read this book a year ago, back when I bought it. I don’t know why I waited so long. I think the size, as well as its vague synopsis, intimidated me.
Don’t be like me. If you’re apprehensive, don’t be. You may really end up loving this book as much as I did.
I’ll try to summarize a quick synopsis (in a less vague fashion) without spoilers, and then I’ll break down what I liked and disliked. However, you may prefer to dive into this book blind, to which I say: Go for it!
Strange the Dreamer is told in dual POV’s. First we meet Lazlo, a 20-year-old librarian with a thirst for knowledge and fairy tales. He immerses himself in old stories and legends, so much so that he becomes obsessed with a lost city called Weep. Then one day, a man known as the Godslayer arrives and recruits a group of scholars (including Lazlo) to accompany him back to Weep. Each person in this group possesses a certain skill, but the Godslayer doesn’t tell them much about their mission or what their skills are needed for.
Lazlo then begins to have dreams of a blue girl named Sarai (which is the book’s second POV.) From here, we learn more about this mysterious girl and the important role she plays in the city of Weep.
Now let’s talk about The Good and The Bad:
- The writing. I already talked about how magical and lyrical Taylor’s writing is, so I won’t sit here and gush about it for hours. Seriously, her writing speaks to my soul.
- The character development for Lazlo is, hands down, one of the best I’ve read.
- The world building and magic. This book has it all: Adventure. Libraries. Gods and monsters. Forgotten worlds. Alchemy. A forbidden romance. It checks off all my fantasy genre boxes.
- The romance. Ok, so the romance is a bit of a slow burn. But you will be rooting for this particular couple every step of the way. I ship them so hard. Also, shout out to sex being presented in a positive, believable way.
- Morally grey characters. Are the gods monsters? Are the monsters really the villains of this story? I always gravitate toward stories that focus on that grey line between good and evil (hence my love for Victoria Schwab), so I was really happy when I came across all these morally ambiguous characters!
- The themes. The theme of race is a constant reminder that we cannot blame a group of people for what that group has done in the past. How no one should be guilty by association. I’ve mentioned this before in my review for Children of Blood and Bone; how I love when a book raises awareness for the treatment of POC. We need more of this.
The Bad (LOL JK there aren’t any):
- Ok, but for real. I do think the book started out a bit slow. It took me a while to “get into the groove” of Taylor’s writing. The story is a slow burn, but I promise you, it is worth it.
- I was hoping to get a bit more page-time for Thyon Nero (which I guess we could dub a “villain”, sort of?) because the idea of alchemy really intrigues me.
I hope my review did some justice for this gorgeous piece of art. I devoured this book in just a few days, and I am so ready for the sequel, Muse of Nightmares. I hope you enjoy Strange the Dreamer as much as I did.