It’s the mind. It’s the most complex and astonishing thing there is, that there’s a world inside each of us that no one else can ever know or see or visit.Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor
⚠️This review contains spoilers for the first book of the duology Strange the Dreamer ⚠️
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 astonishing and heart-stopping sequel to the New York Times bestseller, Strange the Dreamer.
Let me just start this by saying that Laini Taylor is now one of my favorite authors. As of this moment I want to buy every single book she has ever written and just dive into these enchanting worlds only she can create, guided by her melodic and exquisite writing that has me weak in the knees.
Before I go into my proper review for this work of art, let’s do a little recap. This duology explores the world of gods, godspawn, and humans. Strange the Dreamer follows Lazlo and his discovery of the strange city of Weep and the mysterious citadel in the sky that has haunted the city for years. Muse of Nightmares thrusts us into the aftermath of this story, which confronts death and loss in the most palpable of ways. The characters’ lives as they know them have completely changed and they now must find a way to move forward and adjust to this new reality. In this book Laini offers us an in-depth look into this world she has so fantastically created and how everything came to be. The origin of the Gods, the story of the Seraphim, she lays down every single puzzle piece so that we can see the full picture and what part every single character plays in this story.
That was actually one of my favorite things about this book. Watching the way all the sides of the story, through each of the characters’ perspective, came together. How everyone played their part and the fact that no character was left aside. I especially loved the redemption moments! I am not going to get into much detail to not spoil things but there are several characters who have incredibly poignant moments where they choose to rise above their emotional baggage and traumas, when they choose to have hope, and all of those were so very sincere. It really was a lesson on empathy.
The characters are absolutely magnificent. This book allows us to experience so much more through their eyes. There is an unquestionable character growth in this book, even the new characters that are presented, whose stories are equally devastating, have their complete story arcs and undergo incredible transformations. We also get to delve into Minya’s past and experience her terrifying story. As hateful as Minya’s actions may be she’s still a victim. A victim of something horrendous and she did the only thing she judged as right and acted the only way she knew how to: with more rage and hate of her own. And letting go of all that meant letting go of the only certainty she has ever had and she wouldn’t know what to do then. She wouldn’t even know who to be. None of that makes her actions okay but it does show us her reasoning, makes us understand just how much our emotions can shape us.
The most amazing thing about this book is that we get to see all the sides of a horrible situation (even sides we didn’t even account for). It all comes down to the empathy that we see on Lazlo and Sarai, they both see the reasons from both sides and understand that neither is right, they all just did what they judged as right when faced with an awful situation. It is all a battle of perspectives.
Taylor proves once more how masterful of a storyteller she is. This astonishing and vivid world she has managed to create, which didn’t seem like it could get any greater than it already was, just explodes in this book to a universe so extensive, exposing something that me as a reader could never have imagined. It went beyond anything I could have foreseen. She shows how much ability she has when it comes to transforming story lines, allowing them to grow and never losing control over them. Everything falls into place, and remains gripping and extremely well-structured. She allows things to adapt without ever making them inconceivable. I also loved the solutions she presented to the conflicts in this book, solutions that didn’t just rely on violence. She presented better ones, that rely on hope and love and that felt completely legitimate. That was honestly refreshing.
I also honestly love and missed Lazlo’s dreams so much. The worlds he builds in there, the infinite and endless possibilities, how he shapes them in the sweetest of ways. And most of all I love how the greatest interactions between him and Sarai happen in those dreams. It is such a bigger and unexplainable intimacy to have one’s mind touch another’s and to see how real it is and how their relationship was able to grow into what it is today because of those shared dreams. Lazlo’s real power, for me, are his dreams. And I felt an extremely nice correlation here because Lazlo shapes his dreams with as much ease as he can shape mesarthium, there is no resistance to him and he allows his imagination to run as wild as he ever did in those dreams.
All in all, this for me was a perfect conclusion to a perfect duology. It is a favorite for sure.