Muse of Nightmares
Okay, I haven’t TECHNICALLY finished the book but I got bored and skimmed the rest of it. Sue me.
After the events of Strange the Dreamer, Lazlo and the rest have to figure out what their lives look like. Lazlo is blue, Sarai is dead, and Minya wants to destroy the city of Weep. But there’s something else happening, a parallel story drawing nearer, and Lazlo and his allies might be the only ones that can save everyone.
I really, really wanted to like this book. Taylor is one of my favorite authors for writing the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. My problem is, with how interesting this book is, it should probably be much shorter than it is. The plot is twisty and long and takes a minute to get started, like it did in Strange the Dreamer. The problem comes up when you realize this is a sequel, and it should not be taking this long to pick up.
The relationship between Sarai and Lazlo makes me sick to my stomach. Lazlo is 20, he’s seen the world, he’s a whole ass adult. Sarai is now eternally 17, ‘at the cusp of womanhood’, and wants to climb Lazlo like a tree. I do NOT want to read sex scenes between a teenager and an adult, thanks. This is fantasy, and nothing about the plot says that Sarai/Lazlo’s ages are important to the plot, besides pre- and post-Carnage, which means that Taylor wants them to be an adult and a teenager, and it makes my skin crawl.
Their love story being told opposite Skathis’ war crimes and reign of terror also makes me sick. In the same breath we’re told about how and why Skathis was doing what he was doing, and then Lazlo and Sarai are talking about kissing again. Gross. Grody. I do not want to think about fucking my boyfriend in the same bed that my mom tortured countless men in order to feed some demented grasp for power. It’s sickening.
There wasn’t a whole lot I liked about the story, to be honest. I appreciated that Minya got some of her tale out. It was nice to humanize the little shit. It was done in a roundabout way, and it made me feel sorry for her more than helping forgive her. Her story, however nice, did get repetative and boring at parts. So she killed the Ellens? Not surprising, we’ve seen how much she hates people. She split herself in thirds to give the other kids people to look up to and take care of them. It also tracks with how she acts. I feel like a lot of this could’ve been included in the first book, if that was cut down a little.
I also like that Taylor connected this world with the worlds explored in Daughter of Smoke and Bone, which gives hope for Sarai’s happy ending. It wasn’t a necessary plot point, but one I can appreciate nonetheless. There are other books that tried to do something like this and it felt unnecessary and glued together (Maas we’re looking at you). For this, it makes sense. Taylor has already explored the different worlds, and this is just one more. It’s natural.
There were parts I could have done without. Korako and Nova’s story was so drawn out to end like that. It didn’t fit within the confines of the story Muse of Nightmares was building, other than to give context for future adventures. There were better ways for Strange the Dreamer and Muse of Nightmares to fit, and this was quite possibly the dullest way to do that. I’ll finish it, properly…eventually.
Trigger warnings: death, grief, blood, rape, slavery, suicide, death of parent, body horror, kidnapping, misogyny, adult/minor relationship, physical abuse, pregnancy, murder, sexual content, torture, violence