Review: Strange the Dreamer - Laini Taylor

Strange The Dreamer
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
Series: Strange The Dreamer #1

My rating: {★★★★★}

YA Fantasy
Published March 28th 2017 by Hodder & Stoughton

Source: Jonathan Ball Publishers

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.

This is my first Laini Taylor book and I have to admit it has been such a treat. I'm about to go and find ALL the Laini Taylor books to devour. This is the beginning of something beautiful!

First and foremost, I have to mention that I didn't realise that this was a part of a series (duology) until I was very near to the end - I'm not sure why I keep doing that to myself lately! And yet I'm so pleased that there will be more to this completely unique story with the amazing characters and world I have fallen in love with.

The world building is simply amazing. It is slowly conjured around you through gentle, floral words. The prose is almost too much, and then it's not quite enough - a sumptuous treat that is finished at the height of enjoyment giving the perfect amount of pleasure and leaving you wanting more.

I've never had a problem with a slow-build and I can really appreciate that there is zero info dumping, however this does make the beginning a little slower than some may like but if you stick with it - it's breathtaking.

There's so many questions raised here - about hatred and prejudice and how this is dealt with; about slavery and wars and blood and death and how the repercussions of actions can be felt throughout time; about love and hope and desperation: It's more than I could have ever asked for.

Vengeance. Sarai heard the way he said it, and she understood something. Vengeance ought to be spoken through gritted teeth, spittle flying, the cords of one’s soul so entangled in it that you can’t let it go, even if you try.
If you feel it— if you really feel it — then you speak it like it’s a still-beating heart clenched in your fist and there’s blood running down your arm, dripping off your elbow, and you can’t let go.

The story begins with Lazlo Strange and I immediately connected to him: That wild youth who felt all the magic and was so obsessed with a forgotten city and his make believe world of play. I even connected to the quiet gray person he became with his wildness not quite gone but rather simmering for all that time - that underdog who wanted to be so much more than he was, the dreamer who never stopped dreaming.

There were no books to hide behind, and no shadows — only Lazlo Strange in his worn gray robes, with his nose that had been broken by fairy tales, looking like the hero of no story ever told.
Or. No story yet told.

The plot is oh so unique and I loved the world that is created here - there are gods and goddesses, ghosts and monsters and myths and fantasy and none of them are like anything I've read before. It was a fresh and wonderful and utterly beautiful place to be.

“Beautiful and full of monsters? ”
“All the best stories are.”

The characters are fantastic - complex, believable and easy to connect with. Too easy in fact - before I even realised that I was, I was way too invested in the story and found myself sobbing at the end.... Although it's not exactly an unhappy ending it definitely wasn't what I was expecting and now I'm waiting on tenterhooks for the next book.

What I admired the most is that for (almost) each and every character there was no simple story and no cardboard cut out or stencil that they are drawn from - there were many sides to each and every personality and MOTIVES to their actions, so much so that you could feel compassion for so many of them even when you couldn't condone their actions.

The romance in the book was pretty darned awesome and I loved the ferocity of love and hope that was displayed. At the end of this book I'm pretty heartbroken and yet strangely hopeful too: I'm not sure where we can go from here but I honestly can't wait to find out!

This time tomorrow, they would be mysteries no longer.
The end of wondering, he thought, but not of wonder. That was just beginning. He was certain of it.

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