Review of PAPERBOOK Strange the Dreamer – Book 1 in the Strange the Dreamer series by Laini Taylor #Brainfluffbookreview #StrangetheDreamerbookreview


I loved Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series – I think she’s an extraordinary writer, who pushes the boundaries, so I was really excited to see Strange the Dreamer was due out. I treated myself to the paperback with my birthday money and then promptly became engulfed in a flood of Netgalley arcs that needed reading first. So I reckon I’m one of five people on the planet who haven’t yet got around to this one…

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 or lose his dream forever.

That’s as much of the rather chatty blurb that I’m prepared to share. I love, love, love Lazlo – his daydreaming as a child chimes with my own intense imaginary worlds I used as a refuge from a rather complicated childhood, though I hasten to add that’s where the resemblance ends. No one beat me for my imaginary adventures – unlike poor old Lazlo. But although he is bookish, he is also clever and unexpectedly courageous. Writing such a nuanced protagonist takes a lot of skill and talent, which Taylor possesses in shedloads.

As the story progresses, accounts of Lazlo’s life are interspersed by what is going on in the Citadel floating above the city of Weep, inhabited by five young people, who are the sole survivors of a savage attack that took place some fifteen years earlier. Their skins are bright blue and each one has a godlike talent, which they mostly use to eke out a difficult existence. Though one of them is determined to be revenged on the wicked humans below who stormed their stronghold and slaughtered everyone in the night…

As ever, Taylor takes an intriguing story and pushes it adrift from any comforting tethers where mercy or love prevent the worst atrocities happening. Yet she manages to do this while still keeping the book a thing of beauty and wonder by the lyrical quality of her prose and depth of characterisation. Even the antagonists have strong, plausible reasons for their behaviour. I was lost in this story, even dreaming of it, which doesn’t happen all that often these days. And despite the fact that Muse of Nightmares is more money than I’d usually pay for an ebook – when I came to the end of Strange the Dreamer, I bought it anyway, because I need to know what happens next.

24 responses »

  1. I read the first Daughter of Smoke and Bone book and wasn’t sure what to think! I liked the concepts but wasn’t sure on elements like the romance and such. This one sounds really interesting though, hmm…good to see such a positive review!

    • Oh do get hold it it! It’s right up there with one of my favourites reads of the year – if not THE read of the year so far… And I’d love to know what you make of it, Kathy:)

  2. Nice review, Sarah! I don’t think I enjoyed this book as much as you did; if I remember correctly, the second half of the book felt too long and overwritten. But I did enjoy it enough that I now have Muse of Nightmare waiting patiently in my TBR pile. Hopefully I’ll get to the sequel in the next few weeks.

    • I’ll freely admit that I fell for this one hook, line and sinker… I’ll grant you that her prose is lush and lyrical, but I didn’t ever feel it dragged. I think it spoke to my inner diva:). I look forward to hearing what you make of Muse, Sara. Have a great week!x

  3. I have to admit, I’m torn about this one. I consider the author’s writing beautiful and worth every minute reading, but at the same time Daughter of Smoke and Bone left me… not wanting to read more. I appreciated some things in the story, but had structural issues, and by the end of the book, I ended up disinterested.
    At the same time, this book does sound soooooo delicious…. 😉

    • Yes… I can understand that – though I think Strange the Dreamer is a better book than Smoke & Bone. And the sequel certainly split a lot of readers, but I just love the way she uses words. She’s brave and writes with the brakes off – I always love that:))

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