Compelling and engaging
happened to the city and why does everyone now call it Weep?
Taylor infuses these scenes of Lazlo as a boy, rushing about on his imaginative quests, with such pure joy that she quickly establishes him as the character to root for.
Of course, we know Lazlo is never going to stay put, but Taylor’s writing often makes us forget this foregone conclusion.
In fact, the possibility of Lazlo remaining in the strict and stuffy abbey at times seems like a real danger.
Strange The Dreamer feels both unique and familiar at once. It’s a dichotomy that is meticulously planned and yet fresh. There are tropes from fairytales across the ages, a travelling general who gathers heroes, masters, and companions to him, and then there are the gods, monsters, and magical creatures.
Taylor not only fits all these pieces into her book, she turns out a fantasy fiction that restores magic to its finest. She comes at these disparate elements from such varied perspectives that even with a foreshadowing of plotlines you’ll be surprised and delighted by where she takes her characters.
The main earthly antagonist is the alchemist Thyon Nero, a well thought-out villain who acts from a grounded motivation. He’s a ravishingly handsome man who seems to have everything except the final key that can transmute lead into gold.
The more we learn about the smug and selfish Thyon, the more he becomes the baddie we love to hate. You know him: He’s the popular guy from high school with the looks, the money, and the bad attitude. But Taylor also takes care to humanise him by peeking behind his gilded façade.
It’s a signature move on Taylor’s part. She builds Lazlo’s world and its characters up until you think youknowitall,andthenshe changes everything with one sentence.
Beyond these do-gooders and evil-doers, Taylor also introduces a blue-skinned goddess named Sarai.
She’s begins appearing in Lazlo’s dreams, and becomes the other mystery he sets out to solve. The only way to do this is to join the general’s quest that’s going to piece together the mystery of Weep.
As these characters become ever more intertwined, Taylor flips among their points of view. She may start a sentence with one character’s POV but she’ll finish with another character’s opinions. It’s less disconcerting than you’d think, because her elegance in writing means this trick always lands.
Taylor’s prose is immediate, compelling, and engaging. Strange The Dreamer is the sort of book you can’t put down until you finish what you’ve started. It took me back to my childhood when I would sneak a torchlight into bed at night so I could continue reading a book under the covers long after lights out.
There’s no date yet for its sequel, The Muse Of Nightmares. But in the meantime, after you’re done with Strange’s world, check out Taylor’s Daughter Of Smoke And Bone series, as well as her 2009 Cybils Award-winning novel Dreamdark: Silksinger from her Faeries Of Dreamdark series.
Laini Taylor Little, Brown, young adult fantasy