Strange the Dreamer Review
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor: My Review
Rating: 5/5 stars
As for fairy tales, he understood that they were reflections of the people who had spun them, and were flecked with little truths - intrusions of reality into fantasy, like toast crumbs on a wizard's beard.
It's very rare for me to find a book that I just want to infuse into my soul and wrap around me like a warm blanket and makes me consider purchasing a second heart that functions only to love the characters and the universe of the story because my current heart can't contain it all.
But guess what? I found one.
I think it's relevant for me to point out that I dedicated entire days to reading this in bed, and I can confidently confirm that the best possible way this book can be read is while sipping a hot drink in soft candle lighting with rain pitter-pattering on the windows, and just utterly submerging yourself inside this world of blue-skinned goddesses and lost cities and dreamsmiths that just completely eclipses any sense of reality. I wish I could tattoo the feeling of reading this book on me forever, and the gaping hole left inside of me when I came to the end will only be repaired once Muse of Nightmares is in my hands and I'm once again under my duvet reading it. And then I'll probably have an even bigger hole when my heart decides to altogether break out of my collarbone because the duology will be over, but we'll leave all of that devastation and heartbreak until October.
Because now we're talking about the sheer masterpiece that is Strange the Dreamer, and the goddess of a writer that is Laini Taylor.
For months I was sure that I'd never find a book that contained the same level of lucious, opulent, spell-binding prose (that pervades senses you didn't even know you had and makes you wish words were edible because they would for sure melt on your tongue like all the sweet vanilla and buttery caramel in the world) as The Night Circus. Ladies and gentlemen, I was wrong. Reading Laini Taylor's writing is like watching honey drizzle off a spoon - frankly, I would read her shopping lists and still be captivated. I was a literal human sponge absorbing every evocative description, relishing every exquisite sentence on the page - the whole world she creates feels like its very own fairytale. If I could write half as well as she does, I'd stop speaking altogether and write down everything I wanted to say as a beautiful metaphor until everyone gets so bored with me that I'd have to live on my own creating fictional characters to be my friends.
Ah, and speaking of characters.
I don't actually remember who I was before I was introduced to Lazlo Strange. But I can tell you I'm a far better person now.
Lazlo Strange embodies everything that is right and good in the world. He deserves only the softest cashmere, rose petals scattered on his bedsheets, an endless supply of contentment and self-acceptance, because the world would be a much worse place without his endlessly kind, patient, devoted, adorable spirit in it. From this excruciatingly bashful, vulnerable child he grows into a strong, respected young warrior who would sacrifice anything just to help the people he loves. But you know what I love most about him? He's an introvert through-and-through, and that doesn't change. If he belonged in a Hogwarts house (let's be honest, we all belong in a Hogwarts house), there is no doubt in my mind he would be a Hufflepuff. And not only is he an introvert, he's a reader, he's a book lover, who "couldn't have belonged at the library more truly if he were a book himself". He's the kind of book lover I want to manifest in my life right about now so we can have late night adventures in desolate libraries and discuss Harry Potter over mugs of hot chocolate. He understands what it's like to try too hard to fit into a society of people who all seem to know the appropriate level of eye contact and don't share your passions, and nothing makes me want to cry joyous tears more than than knowing he exists.
He read while he walked. He read while he ate. The other librarians suspected he somehow read while he slept, or perhaps didn't sleep at all.
Without his books, his room felt like a body with its heart cut out.
And then we have the Muse of Nightmares herself - Sarai. The flawed and beautiful daughter of the goddess of despair, who screams moths of her consciousness every night to infiltrate the dreams of humans and turn them into nightmares. Reading about Sarai seriously makes me want to paint my skin blue and build a floating citadel with orchards of plum trees grown by Sparrow and take hot baths warmed by Ruby's fire and conjure storms with Feral and hang out with Minya's ghost... well, maybe not that part. And just thinking about the warm intimacy of Lazlo and Sarai's relationship physically turns my pupils into heart shapes.
Coming back to Minya, though - wow, she's a controversial one yet so precious to me at the same time. Minya, who catches human souls like butterflies in a net and keeps them to cede to her every whim, who looks only six years old but yearns for vengeance because she's lived for so much longer, who descends from the cruelest member of the Mesarthim and saw The Carnage unfold before her eyes. She is so utterly detestable in the way she handles things and how she treats the others, and the thick armor she wears truly is seven shades of gruesome. But I hope people can see that underneath exists a confused child who's only ever wanted to protect her family, and is the reason they're still alive. She may be godspawn, but at the end of the day she's just like one of us, and I think there must be something very wrong with you if you can't find at least a small part of yourself in each of these extraordinary characters.
So if you haven't already, I strongly urge you to read this book. Everyone needs to read this book. I don't care who you are or where you come from, I don't care that the ending was pure cruelty and purged my body of far too many tears. You need to read Strange the Dreamer. Right now.