Muse of Nightmares (Strange the Dreamer, #2)by Published 02 Oct 2018
|Muse of Nightmares (Strange the Dreamer, #2).pdf|
|Publisher||Little, Brown Books for Young Readers|
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 Times bestseller, Strange the Dreamer.
"Muse of Nightmares (Strange the Dreamer, #2)" Reviews
Good little girls don’t kill. They die.
And Minya was not a good little girl.
I know a lot of us were expecting Muse of Nightmares to be good, but I have to say, this book actually exceeded my expectations. I have a lump in my throat and I can't stop thinking about it. I usually spend time making detailed notes while reading a book but, at one point, I opened Notes on my computer just to type "oh fucking god, this is so good".
No spoilers, of course. The beginning opens by introducing us to two new characters - Kora and Nova - and their compelling story eventually becomes deeply-entwined with the main plot in ways that were unexpected, thrilling, and sad.
If you are that sort of reader, this is definitely a crying book. There is one scene - you'll know it when you come to it - that was so heartbreakingly emotional that I had to put the book down for a few minutes to organize my feelings. Taylor creates such strong ties between characters that it feels like a physical, painful thing when those ties are broken.
The story at the heart of Muse of Nightmares continues Strange the Dreamer in that it's about discovering the origins of Weep and the floating citadel. What really happened all those years ago? How did five half-human children survive the Carnage and become trapped in a secret prison?
Finding out opens up doors to horrors and, let me tell you-- some parts of this are really creepy.
The little girl thrummed with a dark fervor, eyes big and glazed, breath fast and shallow, skin seeming to crackle with a barely contained energy. In a baleful singsong that sent chills down Sarai’s spine, she said, “You shouldn’t be in here,” and Sarai didn’t know if she meant in the nursery or in the dream, but the words, the tone, seemed to slide into a dance with the unmoored shadows and the thrum, and it was all getting faster and louder, and the shadows were closing in, and a terrible dread stirred in her.
Taylor tells the story in parts, through different perspectives, and these eventually come together to form a whole. The plot and world here are pretty dense, but that made it even more rewarding for me when I discovered how everything was connected. It's such a complex, thoughtful and imaginative plot, quite unlike anything I've ever read before.
When a hundred sets of eyes pin you in place, and all of them see the same thing, how can you not be that thing? The Tizerkane looked at children and saw monsters, and Minya’s darkest self rose to the challenge.
Older characters continue to fascinate, while the new additions bring something fresh and exciting to the story. Minya, for one, is such a fantastic messed-up character, and we get to delve deep inside her mind (literally!) in this book. Cute side relationships between Ruby and Feral, and Calixte and Tzara, offer some much-needed light and happiness, too.
I think, overall, this is just a really great book. It's well-plotted, it's unique, and it's... maybe not the end(?) 🤞
CW: [spoilers removed]
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This book holds more wonder and beauty than most places in the world. It’s as if the universe decided that it was tired of being so immense, so it compressed all of its complexity and splendor into a smaller form just so it could make everyone around it feel like they were a part of the stars.
This whole experience already feels so far away—like something out of a dream—and the whole of my being is wrapped around so much fondness and aching love for this series. I genuinely wish I could find some way to hook myself to this world, and never leave.
Once upon a time there was a silence that dreamed of becoming a song, and then I found you, and now everything is music.
So, what's this book about?
After the citadel’s lurch from the sky has tipped everyone into grief and chaos, Sarai's a ghost now, held in Minya’s thrall and all they would ever be able to do about it is what they’d ever been able to do about it: nothing. And Lazlo—once a faranji dreamer and a war orphan of Zosma—is now confronted with the truth of him being the half-human son of a god, blessed with the same power that had been Weep’s curse for fifteen years.
Now the scales have a heavy weight on them: Minya’s anger like a canker at the center of everything, dancing them around a chessboard, and Sarai and Lazlo’s hearts are things edged with the fear of it, every sweet moment spent together not really theirs, but just borrowed for a little while. And even though their lives had been so long a thing of hideous dread that for the length of a few pages, they’d forgotten to be alarmed by the horror of Minya being the only hook Sarai could tie the tethers of her soul to, there is a part of them—and of the reader—spinning and wondering, that wants to know how long Minya’s calm and patience would stand, how long until it fell or crumbled beneath the hate and fear that weren’t a legacy left by their slayed kindred, but new and bright and all her own.
How long before Minya came to chase them out of whatever corner they’ve carved for themselves? Could they defuse the hate that had woven itself into her veins, as much as her power had roots under her skin? What will befall Weep if Minya’s will for vengeance made its way to it? Who is the mysterious Nova, looking for the Mesarthim who had taken her sister and left her not even scraps of memory to try and catch her with?
And what happens when all the secrets so long kept close to the chests of those who held them spill out and prove deadlier than even Minya’s wrath?
I would have chosen you, if they had let me choose.
There’s something quite indescriptible about Laini Taylor’s storytelling. The fortitude of her bright mind ceaselessly surprises me; I know what to expect, and yet I am still thrown off by her ingenuity. Lush, reverential language and her gift to infuse every page with magic and heady emotions remain a hallmark of her work. It’s that rare kind of book that you want to read slowly, deliciously, relishing every exquisite sentence. But Laini Taylor doesn’t only draw you in with sensuous passages, she leaves you reeling with a fantastical tale at the thresholds of love and family and identity, and there, a wish flickers in your heart to become part of the story.
I’m also so impressed by how she deftly dances across genres, careening between fantasy and science-fiction. Even more inspiring is how she sprawls out from her story’s already expansive beginning to an even broader canvas of magic and war and divinity, brilliantly tying the myriad threads of her story together by the end. It’s something that can be so easily abused and leaned on like a crutch, but in the hands of a skilled author like Taylor, the world of the book only manifolds, unfurling like concealed pages of a map, and uncovering a future full of terrible, unguessable magic. It's like falling into a nautilus shell: every time you think you've reached the end, another chamber opens. It’s…breathtaking.
I was honestly split between sorrow and elation after finishing this book, the two states seemingly inimical but right then, they were sharing the same shadow. I genuinely love this book so much. And oh my God, the characters .
I adore absolutely every single character of this book; my heart is a big cherry pie, enough for everyone! Laini Taylor imbues every character no matter how minor with heart and soul. Their development is so beautifully rendered that they all eventually settle into themselves like an impression in the sand, and only growing stronger from there.
✨ LAZLO STRANGE
The warmest feeling is when you find that one character. That one character that is your absolute favorite. The character that, just by thinking of them, makes you so incredibly emotional. That character you love so much, the kind of love that is so deep and so strong that you begin to doubt that you have ever truly loved anyone prior. You want to take care of them and be their number one supporter and protect them from the ravages of the world. You know that character is the one for you. They’re your number one, and you know you will never love another more. Lazlo is that character for me.
Lazlo Strange is the most beautiful thing I’ve seen this earth create. He holds his eyes wide and sees everything, really sees, and seems to love it, all of it, life and the world and everyone in it. He’s a gardener and people are his roses. His love is so concentrated. He literally has the sun inside of his soul and it’s like…how can one person have so much vitality and kindness? He’s the kind of person to whom you would willingly give so much of your heart. I was half-afraid that the torrents of the collective horror that had been building in this book would wear away at the edges of his soft-heartedness, but he is still the same gentle dreamer whose nose has been broken by fairytales and whose kindness still radiated from him, and made you find faith in humanity again. Anyway, nothing makes me sadder than the fact that Lazlo Strange will never think about me as much as I think about him.
Sarai, the transcendental goddess of my heart. I wish she would send her mind and senses and moths winging down to my room and spin whatever dreams she wants to torment me.
I loved how she thought she wasn’t strong enough to do so many things until they were over, and she had done them. How she was far from helpless, and when in positions of impotency, how quick she was to address the issue and attempt to take control in whatever way she can. She had passed through a long dark time and had come out of it—if not alive—so much stronger.
✨ SARAI AND LAZLO
I obviously only ship things that are guaranteed to cause me immense pain but I haven't experienced this much joy since Lazlo & Sarai have been in close proximity of each other so there's that. I love them. I love how they clung to whatever fleeting, small, precious joy they were allowed, how they were a constant reminder that happiness do not cease to exist in the shadow of something large and ominous, that surrounding yourself with your loved ones can make you feel human again, a person beyond whatever troubles you. Everything about them is so soft and heart-shaped and I just [clutches fist] love them.
Speaking of which, when is someone going to come and sweep me off my feet and feed me chocolate cakes because time is running out?
Minya has spent so long sustaining herself on all the anger she had brewed since that day when the Godslayer slew babies so humans could live. She had honed her rage as a razor blade and planned a thousand parries to blows that may never come. The Carnage mangled her emotions, poisoned her faculties for love and trust until they were so tangled with hate. And still, she protected Sarai and the others, she sheltered them, she kept them from the winds that would batter them into the earth. They were her family and she was theirs—bound not by something as coincidental as blood but by shared trauma and survival and choice—and that is a bond that could take a great deal of strain before it snapped.
This book might have started out as an Us from which Minya was excluded but every acidic confrontation that followed was less about the moment Minya held Sarai’s soul as a bargaining ship and more about the vast sweep of their past, the warp and weft of old resentments. It was more about loving the people you care about like you would love the moon—not only when it’s full and bright, and being there for them not only when the sun is shining, but also when a thunderstorm is brewing inside of them.
I’m still so incredibly emotional over Minya. This kid needs to sit on some soft grass, or a foam mattress in the sun to give her cold shadow a soft place to rest. She’s always on that pavement, that cement, in her mind, it's not good for her.
Since book one, I have felt every stab of the remorse I knew Eril-Fane was inflicting on himself. The regrets, the resentments and all the things that pressed into him, and made his heart feel as though it might give and break like a bone. The apologies that were too heavy for his tongue and the almost-palpable memories of a war where he’d experienced terrible acts of violence, and perpetrated many of his own. It honestly pained me that he had so many secrets, so many fears and places he did not let anyone—not his wife, not his mother—bring light into.
But the pain was quickly sucked away in the wake of his incredible character development: Eril-Fane realizes that a good portion of healing is in simply allowing sensations to arise, just sitting with them and feeling them instead of bottling them up. He realizes that sometimes, in order to survive, you must see the good in your past. There will always be things that he wishes had never happened, things he wishes he could rewrite. There will always be bad memories and things that he regrets. But they are part of who he is—all he can do is accept that they have happened and celebrate the person they’ve allowed him to become.
✨ THYON NERO
Reading this book comes with this weird onslaught of affection for Thyon Nero that you never expected, but just grows the more you read.
In the first book, and even at the start of this one, he’s arrogant, self-centered and insufferable. By the end, he still kind of is but with an overlaying sense of responsibility and maturity to quell the worst bits. His character development isn’t a complete overhaul, but he does end up so much better than when he started. He tries to earn everyone’s respect and friendship rather than assuming he deserved it because of his privilege. And there is a humility that comes with that understanding. It was a good look for him, knocking the hauteur away and leaving a remarkably pleasing vulnerability in its place. I genuinely thought I have been wrung out of every last ounce of the sincere affection that might have bloomed in my heart for Thyon, but he proved me wrong.
On a VERY important note, my queer heart has always suspected that Thyon was one of us AND I WAS RIGHT. I would lay down both of my kidneys for a spin-off series featuring him getting called out on his haughtiness by a certain someone. Also I would give up forty years of paycheck for my favorite lesbian girlfriends Calixte and Tzara, I love them so much I'm so glad we got to see more of them. I’m even gladder for Calixte and Thyon’s friendship, they’re the epitome of mlm and wlw solidarity. ICONIC.
She had more than she had ever dared dream, and yet, new dreams sprout up when old ones come true, like seedlings in a forest: a new generation of wishes.
Lastly, if you haven’t found your way to this wonderful series, please do so now. Trust me: you need these characters in your life.
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Do y'all like my funko pop I made of Sarai? I would liked to have made a better one but it's okay =)
Listened to the audible first thing. I can't even right now!! I love Laini Taylor!! God, this book. More thoughts later and pics of my not professionally made Funko! 💙 To be continued......
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I'm pretty sure Laini Taylor books just exist to capture and devour your entire SOUL AND IMAGINATION. I just went on such a wild adventure omg, I feel acTUALLY DRAINED. Like this duology has totally filled my creative well. I am heart eyes and my heart so so full and !!!! my emotions are just !!! which is exactly how a professionally reviewer would summarise a book.
So this takes off basically seconds after Strange The Dreamer ends. Who needs to pause for breathe. No you don't. You get tossed back in with your heart in your mouth, watching everything unravel. But may I just say the pacing was perfect?! This duology isn't a "break neck speed action adventure" and for that I love it. Oh there are plenty of action scenes at the end. But it balances them with so much thoughts and feeling, explorations of ACTUAL OTHER DIMENSIONS AND UNIVERSES, and delicately crafted characters who just feel real now.
THE CHARACTERS AFDJAKSLDFLJFD. They are the light of my little heart!! Ahh!! We actually start the book getting introduced to two new girls: Nova and Kova. Who become so pivotal to the story omg. But we get all the old favourites and I just !!! I really truly care about so many of them. And my favourite thing is how the characters aren't always GOOD or BAD. They can so easily fit into both. I absolutely feel for the antagonists. AHHHH I feel all the things for Minya. Holy fafhfashs I love Minya.
But also we have:
• LAZLO AND SARAI: Actually Lazlo doesn't have quite a front-position for this one. We don't spend as much time in his head. I missed him a LOT. But he's there!! It's just there were a lot of other things to cover, and I really did feel this was Sarai's book. (HELLO THE TITLE.) And ajfdkslad SaRAIA. She is so sweet and obviously her role in the story (and in life) is tenuous and terrifying. AHHHHH. I love love love how she wants to save people and turn her nightmares into understanding others and helping them out of their cycles of hate and terror.
• RUBY, SPARROW AND FERAL: Ok they are the best teens ever. Because they're like these little blue-skinned wizard gods and such teenagers. Lmao. Feral is clueless. Ruby is a bundle of raging hormones. Sparrow is soft and perfect...and surprising !!
• MINYA: I freaking love her ok. Everything she does is to protect the others. I can't even. I love love love how she's written - so you can fully hate her and what she does BUT UNDERSTAND HER. [spoilers removed]
• THYRON NERO: Can I just say that he has an amazing character arc. I kind of love Thyon. I always shipped him like just 2% with Lazlo at the beginning lmao. And omg Thyon. I'm dyyying. I love how he and Calixte develop a friendship, and then he and Ruza and Tzara. LIKE LIVING FOR THYON BECOMING AS PRETTY INSIDE AS HE IS OUTSIDE. [spoilers removed]
• ERIL-FANE: guyyyys I love this tortured damaged soul. I think he's such a good representation of PTSD and I just ache for him but am also so proud!!
• SUHEYLA: an actual queeeeeeen I love her so much [spoilers removed]
basically perfect characters are perfect. Everyone is dimensional and complex and STOLE MY HEART. I love that I could hate/love the antagonists (they're never really villains) and care about the side-characters after only a few heartbeats!
Also book 1 left us with SO many questions. This one answers! And it will EXPLODE your mind how big the world gets. It's complicated and huge and detailed. The first book is riddled with foreshadowing and omg it ties in so well?! Also shout out to those Daughter of Smoke and Bone references! I see what you did there.
We get to find out where the seraphim came from, who the blue-skinned gods are, why they were breeding babies, what else the gods can even do, what this means for Weep...
...oh and I KNOW WHAT WEEP'S TRUE NAME IS. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I also just adore the magic and how fervently and beautifully it's crafted. Seriously the descriptions are lush and the world building is perfectly and extraordinarily magic. IS there writing I love as much as this?! sajfkldsad I am besotted and cannot be made to stop.
One thing I always worry about with finales is: "hey but will this break me or be satisfying?" And I'm proud that MUSE did both these things. It is satisfying, but it doesn't shut doors. It is heartbreaking, but it doesn't leave me disappointed. IT IS PERFECT IS WHAT I'M TRYING TO SAY.
HOW IS IT SO PERFECT.
IT IS PERFECT.
ARC provided by Hachette in exchange for an honest review.
1.) Strange the Dreamer ★★★★★
“I would have chosen you, if they had let me choose.”
Strange the Dreamer was my favorite book of 2017, and Muse of Nightmares is probably going to be my favorite book of 2018. These two books just bring so much love into my heart, and so much hope into my soul. I have no word combinations to ever begin to describe how much this book meant to me, or to do a review worthy of it, but I am going to try.
“Sarai had lived and breathed nightmares since she was six years old. For four thousand nights she had explored the dreamscapes of Weep, witnessing horrors and creating them. She was the Muse of Nightmares.”
Whenever I try to give a synopsis for Strange the Dreamer I always say it’s about a librarian who is in love with a lost city, and a girl who only wants to know what love is. Muse of Nightmares is a story all about love, and the different kinds of love that we will experience, and some that we will never experience, in our lifetime. The love between found families everywhere, between siblings both blood and not, between parents both distant and close, between lovers both new and old. And how all this love makes us choose actions that are both good and bad and all the things in-between. Love is truly the most complex force in the entire world, but when someone loves selflessly it can change everything. Sometimes we are unaware of how much power we have inside us, especially when that power is kindled from unconditional love.
“For fifteen years, the people of Weep had lived with the certainty that the monsters were dead, and Eril-Fane had lived with the burden of it…”
And this book picks right up after the harrowing events in Strange the Dreamer. So many of these characters, both blue and not, are dealing with a monumental amount of sorrow and grief. Lazlo, the librarian who has finally found the city that has taken over his heart and mind for his entire life, is going through the greatest amount of changes.
If Strange the Dreamer is about finding the lost city of Weep, Muse of Nightmares is about why no one can remember the city in the first place. We get so much background on so many different worlds, and we get to see them all thread together to create a universe truly unlike anything else. But beautiful and terrible things happen in the name of good and bad, and we get to see pivotal choices be made, that resulted in what happened to Weep.
“Skathis: god of beasts, king of horrors, daughter-stealer, city-crusher, monster of monsters, madman.”
Yet, Muse of Nightmares also introduces you to two new characters: Kora and Nova. They are sisters that were born long before the last Godspawn, but the two stories quickly entangle with each other. And their sisterhood, even though heartbreaking, is so damn beautiful. Laini Taylor really expands on not only this story, but this world and universe too! And you’ll quickly see how this can all be connected to the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. And even though this was the final book in this duology, I believe Laini has so much more in store for us.
I’ve been reading stories for over two decades and, in my opinion, Laini Taylor is the best storyteller I’ve ever read. Her words have such a magical impact on me, and I honestly think she has to be a little supernatural to weave words the way she does. (I’m secretly hoping she is fae!) You can just feel so much emotion while reading her passages, like she truly pours every ounce of herself into the words she uses, and I truly think there isn’t another human on earth who can do what she does. The word “beautiful” doesn’t even do her prose justice, so I’ll just say that it’s completely magical, so very immersive, and totally enthralling. She is easily my favorite author of all time.
“The gods had been dead for fifteen years, after all, but their hate had lingered, and ruled in their stead.”
I can’t even believe I’m typing this paragraph, but this book also heavily deals with children in cages, which is something that I truly, with my entire being, wish was only in fiction. Sadly, it’s not. Some of the scenes in this book were a little harder than most, just because of what is going on in 2018, so please be warned going in. Also, trigger and content warnings for war themes, death, torture, graphic blood depictions, slavery, human trafficking, a lot of talk of implied past rape, rape, extreme parental abuse, child abuse, thoughts of suicide, suicide, PTSD, grief, trauma, and sexual content.
Trauma and grief, and how each person deals with those two things very differently, plays a huge role in this book. Yet, this story is a love letter to how we don’t have to be the mistakes of our ancestors. We can change, we can do things differently, and that it’s never too late. And vengeance will always be a driving factor, but you’ll soon realize that nothing, not even redemption, will lessen the feeling of loss. The only thing that can heal is love, but that’s a lesson that is so very hard to learn at times.
“Once upon a time, a sister made a vow she didn’t know how to break, and it broke her instead. Once upon a time, a girl did the impossible, but she did it just a little too late.”
Overall, I’m not sure another story will ever touch me like this duology has. My review doesn’t even do it justice, honestly. This is a once in a lifetime story that I will cherish for the rest of my life. This isn’t just a shining star in literature, but a glowing constellation over the world. If you haven’t picked up Strange the Dreamer, please do so, because I love this series with every bone in my body, with my heart, with my soul, with every fiber of my very being. And remember, it is never too late to start over, and it’s never too late to do good.
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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
(Forever thankful for Arys, for trading me an ARC of what I'm sure will be my favorite book of 2018! You will never know how much this means to me, but I promise I'll cherish this ARC forever. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart and soul, thank you! 💖)