Title: Muse of Nightmares
Author: Laini Taylor
Series: Strange the Dreamer #2
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: October 2nd, 2018 (Hodder & Stoughton)
Synopsis: Sarai has lived and breathed nightmares since she was six years old.
She believed she knew every horror, and was beyond surprise. She was wrong.
In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep.
Lazlo faces an unthinkable choice–save the woman he loves, or everyone else?–while Sarai feels more helpless than ever. But is she? Sometimes, only the direst need can teach us our own depths, and Sarai, the muse of nightmares, has not yet discovered what she’s capable of.
As humans and godspawn reel in the aftermath of the citadel’s near fall, a new foe shatters their fragile hopes, and the mysteries of the Mesarthim are resurrected: Where did the gods come from, and why? What was done with thousands of children born in the citadel nursery? And most important of all, as forgotten doors are opened and new worlds revealed: Must heroes always slay monsters, or is it possible to save them instead?
Love and hate, revenge and redemption, destruction and salvation all clash in this gorgeous sequel to the New York Times bestseller, Strange the Dreamer.
“Wishes don’t just come true. They’re only the target you paint around what you want. You still have to hit the bull’s-eye yourself.”
Picking up immediately after Strange the Dreamer, our characters are still in shock from Sarai’s death. Only now, Minya holds Sarai’s ghost in thrall, and through her Lazlo, intending to wreak her long-awaited vengeance on Weep.
The terrified people in the city flee to safety, expecting at any moment to be attacked by the Mesarthim long thought to be dead. As the fate of Weep hangs in the balance, Muse of Nightmares looks back in time, seeking answers to some very important questions. What really happened on the day of the Carnage? How did Lazlo end up all the way in Zosma? Who were the Mesarthim and where did they come from?
Muse of Nightmares introduces two new characters, the sisters Kora and Nova. They were an excellent addition to the plot, and their story is narrated parallel to that of our main characters until the two collide in a most unexpected manner. Through their story, we get some fascinating glimpses into the Mesarthim who so far, have only been described through the memories of those who suffered under their rule.
Where Strange the Dreamer was Lazlo’s book through and through, Muse of Nightmares is more about exploring the world Laini Taylor has built. And as far as characters go, though Minya herself does not take centre stage until much later in the book, many answers – and even more questions – arise from her memories of the Carnage. Minya is such a messed-up character, yet as the story progresses and more of her past is revealed, it’s really hard to not sympathize with her.
This is a surprisingly hard book to review (considering I’ve been trying to put this into words for the better part of two weeks), but the main thing that stood out to me was simply the feel of the book. I loved that the world-building and backstories had such an epic fantasy feel to them (though the story itself reads more like science fiction to me). This was something I definitely did not find in the first book and it was mainly curiosity that drove me to finish that. This time around though, I was drawn into the story completely, and I attribute that to Taylor’s beautiful, lyrical writing style and how she brings the tale to life. For a book so serious, there were surprisingly enough, quite a few light-hearted moments – mostly in Thyon Nero’s POVs. The golden godson is still in Weep, shocked to realize that the ordinary librarian he looked down upon is actually Godspawn. Though his plotline is very much secondary, his character development and insight into his thoughts were very well written.
As with the first book, this one does take a good while to really get started which was annoying, but atleast this time around, I knew it was coming. The bulk of the action took place in the last third of the book. However, I do have to say that this fell a little flat after Strange the Dreamer. I expected a much more dramatic reveal considering all the build up and the high stakes involved. The other thing was that though the story itself was really good, I cannot say the same for the characters, whom I just did not feel any connection to this time – and let’s not even get me started on the romance. It had me rolling my eyes for the better part of the book and just felt very out of place this time around.
All in all, I’d say it was a satisfactory read, and I liked it well enough that Laini Taylor’s other series, Daughter of Smoke and Bone will be going on my TBR at some point. The ending, though not dramatic enough for my taste, left things resolved, but not quite closed – there’s still another adventure waiting.
Other reviews in this series:
Book 1: Strange the Dreamer