Title: Strange the Dreamer
Series: Strange the Dreamer #1
Author: Laini Taylor
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: March 28th, 2017 (Hodder & Stoughton)
Synopsis: 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 to 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?
In this sweeping and breathtaking new novel by National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor, author of the New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, the shadow of the past is as real as the ghosts who haunt the citadel of murdered gods. Fall into a mythical world of dread and wonder, moths and nightmares, love and carnage.
“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.”
Lazlo Strange is a war orphan who has never really felt like he fit in, except for in the Great Library, surrounded by stories of magic and monsters that he loves. He has always been fascinated with the tales of the mythical city, and one day, its true name vanishes from all memory and is now simply known as Weep. He is only a junior librarian, but Lazlo has always dreamed of travelling the world in search of this city shrouded in mystery to discover what truly happened two hundred years ago – a seemingly impossible dream, until opportunity presents itself in the form of the legendary Godslayer himself, and Lazlo manages to join his group on their quest to save the city that has become the stuff of legend.
When a book is as hyped as this one was, it usually makes me that much more reluctant to read it if it wasn’t already on my list. However, I’d seen an outrageous number of rave reviews for Strange the Dreamer and I was too curious to skip it. This is the first book by Laini Taylor that I’ve read, and I’m certainly curious to check out her other series now. The book opens with the death of a character we know nothing about before taking a step back in time to introduce us to Lazlo Strange, a book nerd who dreams of adventure. I’m quite fond of this style of narration (I loved it in Furyborn, particularly), because as a reader, I know the major event of the book and the narrative builds up an entirely different kind of tension throughout as we get to know the world and characters.
There’s something about the narration style of this story that felt dreamlike and ethereal – very disconcerting at first to be sure, but once I got the hang of the story, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The slow narration rarely works for me (as I ranted about earlier this year when I read The Starless Sea), but curiosity alone kept me reading until the action really began, despite the pacing issues and the fact that a good chunk of the book felt like filler. It was certainly one of the tougher books I’ve read in recent years and took me quite some time to get through, but in the end, well worth the effort.
Despite this book being Lazlo’s story – and he is by no means your typical YA hero – the other characters we meet are equally intriguing, particularly the Godspawn up in the Citadel, who, unknown to those in the city below, survived the Carnage all those years ago. I really appreciated how well developed all these characters were, and Strange the Dreamer has set a perfect stage for the events to follow. However, contrary to many opinions I’ve seen, for this book atleast, I enjoyed the plot and world-building over the characters, despite this undoubtedly being a character driven book. So did it live up to the hype? To a certain extent, yes. It’s a beautifully written book but there were certain elements that annoyed me (the very instalovey romance comes to mind), and I’d save the lion’s share of the praise for the sequel, Muse of Nightmares.
Strange the Dreamer is not a book that can be speed-read. It takes time and a lot of patience to really appreciate the prose and fully enjoy this world that Laini Taylor has created – magical, mysterious, and so very unique and I will have to reread this series someday to better appreciate it. Overall, this is not your typical YA fantasy, but it is definitely worth a read. Highly recommended!
Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
Other reviews in this series:
Book 2: Muse of Nightmares