Strange the Dreamer
By Laini Taylor
Publication Date: March 28th 2017
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Find This Book: Strange the Dreamer
I was really put off by how horrendous the American cover is but I can’t believe I waited this long to read Strange the Dreamer! I really enjoyed Laini Taylor’s writing style but this was even better than Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Laini just has this way of creating awe and wonder like no other. She really captures the saying “It’s the journey not the destination”.
The prologue opens with a beautiful and sad scene that one doesn’t quote care about because it’s out of context, that the reader slowly starts to care about as the book goes on. And again, while some plot points might be predictable/foreshadowed it is the journey that matters and boy is the journey unexpected. I’ve been reading some contemporary recently and I’ve been thinking about how that has been refreshing in the face of my go-to fantasy genre, but this book brings refreshing takes to my beloved fantasy genre and its tropes.
Unfortunately, I really can’t say much without spoiling it, but Lazlo Strange and Sarai were fascinatingly intricate characters and I loved them. Even the side characters were incredibly developed and Laini Taylor’s use of language is dazzling (just like her developed world and the story she tells). Lazlo Strange is a rugged librarian who dreams of far off places, and surprise surprise he gets to go! This didn't happen the way I expected though, as with most plot points in the book. Lazlo wishes to discover the Unseen City that lost it's name, currently referred to as 'Weep', and I thought he'd just pack up his things and search for it like the Lost City of Atlantis or something- but he travels to Weep in a totally different scenario! Sarai is a goddess with a dark power which she uses to terrorize the people below who slaughtered her family. There’s a delicate balance of hurt between the ‘gods’ and the humans that it’s hard not to sympathizes with both sides. It felt very much like Greek Tragedy where there is no clear ‘right/good’ side, everyone has committed wrongs. Laini plays with the word monster in particular. All stories should be beautiful and contain monsters as her characters say, but I’m not sure if any character within the book could be considered monsters. They all have very real, complex, and understandable motivations, and labels don’t just perfectly fit people.
Seriously if you haven’t gotten around to this book already what are you waiting for??? If you love libraries, distant lands, dreams, and magic with a tragic backstory this book is for YOU.