In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep.
Lazlo faces an unthinkable choice–save the woman he loves, or everyone else?–while Sarai feels more helpless than ever. But is she? Sometimes, only the direst need can teach us our own depths, and Sarai, the muse of nightmares, has not yet discovered what she’s capable of.
As humans and godspawn reel in the aftermath of the citadel’s near fall, a new foe shatters their fragile hopes, and the mysteries of the Mesarthim are resurrected: Where did the gods come from, and why? What was done with thousands of children born in the citadel nursery? And most important of all, as forgotten doors are opened and new worlds revealed: Must heroes always slay monsters, or is it possible to save them instead?
Love and hate, revenge and redemption, destruction and salvation all clash in this gorgeous sequel to the New York Timesbestseller, Strange the Dreamer.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH TO HACHETTE AUSTRALIA FOR SENDING ME A COPY OF THIS NOVEL.
Read my review of Strange the Dreamer (#1) here
Once upon a time there was a silence that dreamed of becoming a song, and then I found you, and now everything is music.
Lazlo Strange is a dreamer, and I am caught in one of his dreams because this is one of the most beautiful novels I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Laini Taylor’s sequel and conclusion to the phenomenal Strange the Dreamer series is a book that will stay with me for years to come.
I had thought that Taylor’s writing skills were impeccable in Strange the Dreamer, and then I read Muse of Nightmares and was blown away by her rich prose, her alluring descriptions, so realistic, it felt like I was a character in the novel myself. What I find most beautiful is her ability to seamlessly flow between narrator and storyteller: one, a writer who relates the story as it unravels, chronicling the action and the plot; the other, an artist who paints vivid pictures with her words. Aside from Strange the Dreamer, Daughter of Smoke and Bone is the only other Laini Taylor novel I have read, and I will rectify that immediately because if her other works are anything like Muse of Nightmares, they are books I should be reading.
Muse of Nightmares picks up immediately after the end of Strange the Dreamer, with Sarai now a ghost, beholden to the revenge-fuelled Minya, and Lazlo a smith god, the only being capable of harnessing mesarthium, the metal of the gods. But Minya wants retribution against those, including Sarai’s father, who murdered her people fifteen years ago, and now that she holds Sarai’s soul, she can make Lazlo do anything … even start a war between the monsters in the sky and the humans down in Weep.
There comes a certain point with a hope or a dream, when you either give it up or give up everything else. And if you choose the dream, if you keep on going, then you can never quit, because it’s all you are.
I wish I had the words to explain how much I adore each and every character in this series. My absolute favourite character is Lazlo Strange, that gorgeous little nerd who walks into walls because he’s trying to read and walk at the same time. Lazlo has come a long way from war-torn orphan turned junior librarian — he’s now a god, and not just a god, but one of the most powerful gods there is within the Mesarthum race. But Lazlo is still Lazlo: he still blushes fiercely, still loves with all his heart, and still finds wonder and joy in the most mundane things. I love this sweet boy.
Sarai has come so far from the young girl she was from Strange the Dreamer. Sarai seeks to alter her god-like powers: she no longer wants to be the Muse of Nightmares, rather, she wants to cast off that last yoke leftover by her cruel mother, Isagol, and become her own goddess. I’m immensely proud of this young woman for all she achieves, and yes, I’m aware I’m talking about her as if she is a real person in my life (but she’s real to me!). Sarai and Lazlo’s relationship is the most precious romance I’ve ever read. They’re both sweet together, understanding that what they have between them is precious and soft and sacred. They are a tender and gentle couple who deserve the world.
I have had a soft spot in my heart for Thyon Nero since he first appeared in Strange the Dreamer. Yes, he’s arrogant and uncaring and cruel, even at the beginning of Muse of Nightmares, but, friends, he goes through some exceptional character development! Thyon has never spent any portion of time with someone of a lower class than he, until he joined the delegation to Weep. He comes from a world of the highest privilege, and he’s awkward around people because he doesn’t know how to talk to them — but he desperately wants to. Thyon aches to be friends with someone, to form a connection with someone who might care for him in return, the first in his life. As the novel progresses, Thyon comes to understand his past behaviour was deplorable, and he sets about earning the respect of Lazlo’s friends, one of whom — a young man (but I won’t say his name!) — Thyon slowly begins to develop feelings for. I knew my boy was queer.
I would have chosen you, if they had let me choose.
The biggest surprise of the novel is how much I came to treasure Minya. Taylor shows us time and time again that Minya is not inherently evil, she is a young woman (in the body of a child) who is dealing with her trauma in the only way she knows how: by tending to the hate and anger growing inside of her for fifteen years, to the point where she can no longer differentiate between herself and her pain. She is the strength holding up the small group of godspawn, protecting them for years and years, while submersing herself in darkness. But, like Thyon, there are depths to Minya’s character, depths you can’t even begin to imagine — some of which Minya is not even aware of herself. It’s a heartwarming reminder that the people we think are cold or heartless have complexities.
Eril-Fane is perhaps the most sympathetic character of the novel. I don’t think anyone reading this series could stop themselves from caring for this man and the pain that he has endured. He had to make a terrible decision years ago, one that still haunts him, one that he will not allow himself to move on from. In Strange the Dreamer, Eril-Fane helps his city heal from the wreck the gods left behind, but he will not let himself heal — but in Muse of Nightmares, he’s finding ways to come to terms with his regrets and let himself feel again with his wife, Azareen.
I think it is safe to say that Muse of Nightmares is not a novel I will be forgetting anytime soon. These wonderful characters have burrowed their way into my heart and they are not leaving. I want you to read this series. I want everyone to read this series, because you won’t regret it.