Book Review: Strange the Dreamer Duology

Stange the Dreamer

“Sometimes a moment is so remarkable that it carves out a space in time and spins there, while the world rushes on around it. This was one such.”

Strange the Dreamer

I was enticed by these books for a while, but not until I had written my own dreamscape fiction that I decided to read this.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor started and within a few pages I stopped and looked back at what I had just read. And what made me stop were the words, just the words in this books… the language, the wordsmithing, the artistry of the sentences… it was magic.

It was stunning.

There have only been a few books in my life that made me stop to figure out what the author was doing and research just HOW this author was doing it. This was one of them.

A wasp stung me on the toe, my second toe, next to the biggest. I’ve always had slender toes, and when it first happened, I was confused at something hurting so much. I thought at first I had stepped on some wood shard that gave me a sliver, but after such intense pain and swelling, pain that made me nauseous, swelling that climbed up my foot, I had to go to the ER for help. There was just no where for the poison to go. My toe went from this slender, delicate thing to a fat, link sausage that would not cool for the life of me. (Which didn’t feel better for weeks. BTW)

I took Strange the Dreamer to the ER with me. Being in our weird pandemic state, I was the only one allowed in there, no family could come in. So it was just me and this book. The radiology tech saw it and her being a reader, she asked what it was about.

I was stumped. “Well, it’s like this girl can enter people’s dreams by vomiting up moths and then they land on you and that’s how she sees in the dream. But then there is this librarian that is so nice and he can see her in the dreams when no one else could.” She looked puzzled, so I turned the conversation to more of what she liked to read, because I think I grossed her out by using the word “vomit.”

“He wasn’t an alchemist, or a hero. He was a librarian, and a dreamer. He was a reader, and the unsung expert on a long-lost city no one cared a thing about.”

Strange the Dreamer

But that’s how this book (series) was, one unexpected story after the other. Everything in the story was completely unexpected. If I quickly sum things up: Lazlo Strange is a nobody, given the last name Strange to label him as no one, grew up in a library among scholars and has a strong fascination with the magical city of Weep, whose name was stolen from the lips of everyone. What a curse. I think this was the record scratch in my brain where I went…. wait, what?

Then the story twists to a group heading to Weep to remove a ship stuck in the sky after the slaying of Gods, with spared children from the slaying unknowingly living on the ship.

You see what I mean? I can’t explain this story.

“Get out of doors, Strange. Breathe air, see things. A man should have squint lines from looking at the horizon, not just from reading in dim light.”

Strange the Dreamer

What I can express is the language used in the unique telling of magic, was some of the most eloquent I have ever experienced. In those refrains I got lost in the tangle of words. It reminded me of my first days writing, when I searched further than I knew to poetically wrap every sentence as if dusted with sugar. I fell into this dream world with Lazlo and Sarai.

The other thing was the incredible love story discovered in dreams between Lazlo Strange and Sarai, the muse of nightmares. It was youthful, full of firsts, familial but still very dreamy. And sweeter than anything. It actually started dripping into gooey, and possibly embarrassing to fresh faced youth, I had to roll my eyes, but then fell again into their tale, and found myself dreaming again.

“I think you’re a fairy tale. I think you’re magical, and brave, and exquisite. And I hope you’ll let me be in your story.”

Strange the Dreamer

Also, pointing out that this is a duology, meaning only two in the series – Strange the Dreamer and the Muse of Nightmares. However, it is so full, you won’t miss a third book. The first book drops you at the end, hollow and gutted, so I immediately dove into the other. Be prepared.

I gave this as many stars as I could. I delighted in the language, I marveled at the story, and I praise the unique blend of elements brought together to make a reader fall in love with their past time – reading books and telling stories.

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