Lazlo was a dreamer in more profound a way than they knew. That is to say, he had a dream—a guiding and abiding one, so much a part of him it was like a second soul inside his skin. The landscape of his mind was all given over to it. It was a deep and ravishing landscape, and a daring and magnificent dream. Too daring, too magnificent for the likes of him. He knew that, but the dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around.Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever. What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving? The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?
Every once in a while I’m lucky enough to read a book that feels like it was written just for me. And even though I know it wasn’t, the feeling of belonging and understanding that comes from the words is so overwhelming that you can’t help but feel like the story is about you. As if the lines are telling the story of your life or who you are.
That’s how I felt reading Strange the Dreamer. From the very first beautifully written chapter I allowed myself to be swallowed by this story and the descriptions of Lazlo’s extremely immersive dreams and his yearning for stories and most importantly their magic.
The story follows Lazlo Strange, an orphan, raised by monks, who fantasized about a legendary city since he was a little boy. But one day, everyone forgets the name of this fabled place, and the only name left on their minds is Weep—or as Lazlo calls it, the Unseen City. Escaping from the monks and moving to a library, Lazlo spends his life lost in books and uncovering the secrets of Weep. Of course, Weep doesn’t exist, according to everyone else. But then, one day, the warriors from this fabled city, led by a hero known as the Godslayer, come to the Great Library seeking help from outsiders. They have a problem they can’t solve by themselves. So, Lazlo joins the group and travels with them to Weep, where more and more mysteries are waiting for him.
This was one of those books that caught me by surprise with every turn of the page. I seriously had no idea of what would happen next, it kept me on my toes from the very beginning and I honestly loved that. Because even when I started to get a grasp of what the story was truly about I still couldn’t figure out what would happen on the next chapter, it was like a world that I had never imagined before just coming alive right in front of me for the very first time. It’s such a magical story, and I absolutely love how Laini guided me through it all.
And what a beautifully written book this is. The words and the way they are mixed and matched, they form a melody. It felt like I was reading a song, and dancing to it. Being guided by Sarai and Lazlo’s beautiful and hopeful story. I feel in love with it.
The world-building is just insane. Taylor presents us the culture, environment, religion, backstory, location, attire, animals, traditions, everything necessary to immerse the readers without making us feel overwhelmed. Everything is just so vivid.
Taylor doesn’t stop there though. Of course she is able to give us some of the most well built and beautiful characters. Their development is palpable, there aren’t loose ends. Lazlo is by far my favorite. His love for books, his dreamer personality, his kindness, his acceptance, everything about him screams relatable and pure. I couldn’t have picked a better character to take me on the beautifully crafted ride that was this book. His yearning for knowledge, for adventure, for connection, for a foreign land he has never really seen, it’s all so palpable that when he works up the courage to make his dreams a reality, to find a way to visit the fabled city of Weep, you can’t help but cheer out loud. Sarai is also fantastic. We get to see how much she has evolved and how much a person and their beliefs can change through time. How much they can grow. Lazlo and Sarai deserve all the happiness in this world and they deserve each other so so so much. My heart clenched with the end of this book. There were so many emotions and I cannot wait to dive into the next one.
This is a book that I hold close to my heart. It’s one of those stories that leave their mark on you and every single thing I learned and felt while reading it will resonate with me for so long. Please read this book.