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Strange the Dreamer

A reread, so I can finally read Muse of Nightmares, which has been sitting on my shelf so long it’s got dust.

Lazlo Strange has always been fascinate by the tales of Weep, a city that lost it’s name and disappeared from the world 200 years ago. Since his time as an orphan child with the monks. Now, the warriors of Weep are on his doorstep, and Lazlo is about to start a story all his own.

I read this book in 2017, which feels like a lot longer ago than 5 years, but it was long enough that I forgot a lot of what happened.

Starting off, as I do, with my complaints. The whole of the book happens in the span of roughly a week, besides the beginning, which has a 6 month time jump. Normally I’m okay with a bit of a squished story, but it’s a YA romance, so it was just too fast. It‘s especially frustrating when the dates could’ve been fudged a little bit. It’s fantasy, I don’t need to know exactly when things are happening.

Another thing: I get that it’s important to know exactly where Lazlo and Sarai and the rest fall in terms of the Carnage, because that’s the fixed point in this story, but also their ages could‘ve been fudged just as much as the dates. It makes me feel icky. Lazlo is 20, he’s seen the world and he‘s a man for all intents and purposes. Sarai is 17, ‘on the cusp of woman-hood’ and she is essentially a teenager who’s only been exposed to very little, and only through the dreams of people, so not exactly real experiences. So the fact that Lazlo and Sarai are the big relationship in the story really doesn’t sit right with me. I get that it’s a fantasy book, but also, coming from someone in their 20s, the idea of dating a teenager makes me want to vomit. And the idea of Sarai and Lazlo together is so much less romantic than Taylor probably intended, and not a good look for a book marketed at teenagers.

The book takes it’s time, which usually isn’t a problem, but it makes it hard to reread, especially at the end there. I get impatient, particularly when I know something’s going to happen. I really skimmed the last few pages, because I wanted to get into Muse of Nightmares, and Strange the Dreamer is over 500 pages long. It’s not a bad story, I’m not saying it’s bad, I’m just saying that reread-ability is low because of how slow the story is.

Onto the things I liked!

Weep! Weep is a gorgeous city, and so well described both through Lazlo’s dreams and from the inhabitants of both the citadel and the city. I would love to visit Weep, before Skathis and his gods. I like to imagine it‘s like Lazlo’s dreams, that those stories are real, which just makes it all that much sadder when Skathis comes along to destroy it all. Taylor really makes you feel for everyone involved (except for Skathis and his band of sadists).

The characters are just so well rounded. Even Minya, who is a bit of an asshole for a child, is given a very strong voice and presence. This point goes with about their ages. Besides Minya, it’s not really relevant, especially when Lazlo doesn’t really know how old he is. Their characterization itself is enough to imply their age and maturity. Lazlo isn’t very mature, for an adult, and had be also been 17 or 18, the easy problem of Lazlo and Sarai’s ages is solved. Regardless, the characters are well-defines.

Despite the cliche of Ruby and Sparrow’s abilities, the other powers are really neat. I like their original-ness. I’m excited to hear more about them in the next book, hopefully with a bigger look into Minya’s power.

Overall, I enjoyed my reread. There’s some heavy topics the book covers, rather excellently if I do say so, and I look forward to reading the sequel.

Trigger warnings: death, blood, child death, rape, sexual violence, slavery, sexual assault, sexual content, kidnapping


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