Book Reviews

Review: Strange The Dreamer

Review: Strange The DreamerStrange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
Published by Hodder & Stoughton on March 28th 2017
Pages: 544
Goodreads

A brand new, heart-stopping novel and the first in a thrilling duology from the much-loved author of the DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE trilogy, Laini Taylor.

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.

I was late to the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, only picking up the first book at the beginning of 2016, despite having had it on my TBR for a long time.  I ended up loving it (as everyone had predicted) so I wasn’t sure what to expect from Strange The Dreamer – could it possibly live up to Taylor’s original trilogy?  In particular, where Daughter of Smoke and Bone was urban fantasy, Strange the Dreamer is true fantasy and while I much prefer new worlds, I have to admit that made me a little nervous – would Taylor’s world-building for a totally new world be as addictive?

Short answer: yes, and yes. I needn’t have worried!

Strange the Dreamer opens with a gripping mystery – the blue girl who died, and the people’s terror of her – and it had me hooked pretty much straight away.  After the intial drama of the opening, Lazlo’s life at the library is definitely a slightly slower pace, but I still loved getting to know Lazlo, the mysterious background of Weep, and to a lesser extent, Thyon Nero.  Taylor’s writing is beautiful, and between the way the writing flows so smoothly and the gripping story, I flew through this in a week – and I have to admit, I was savouring it, and could have finished more quickly but I just didn’t want it to end!

The characters in Strange The Dreamer are great, and although I can understand there maybe wasn’t space given how long the book is already, I’d have liked to see a bit more of some of the supporting cast.  Calixte is already a firm favourite, and Lazlo is a character I found very easy to connect with – his wishful dreaming of the mysterious city while everyone dismisses him, the way he doesn’t quite fit in, his love of books and of stories all made him so relatable.  I was seriously intrigued by Thyon Nero, Eril-Fane and Azareen, and I loved Sarai and the others.  This isn’t a black-and-white, good-and-bad kind of story (notice how my favourites never are?!) and I loved the depth of each of the characters, their flaws and shades of grey.

Strange the Dreamer has everything I hoped for and more; the romance is sweet, and tender, the story is addictive and full of twists, the writing is beautiful and the characters are just great fun.  All in all, I think I loved this even more than Daughter of Smoke and Bone – the fact it’s fantasy rather than urban fantasy, and the depth of the world-building and story made this feel more like a fantasy with a romance, than a paranormal romance, which Daughter of Smoke and Bone occasionally felt like.  If you’re new to Laini Taylor’s writing, or you didn’t quite love Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I’d definitely pick this up!  And if you’re already a fan, pick this up for more of what we’ve come to expect from Taylor: beautiful writing, wonderful characters and swoon-worthy romance.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

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