Book Review: Strange the Dreamer

Strange the Dreamer
Taylor, Laini
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

Trying to write a review on any of Laini Taylor’s works, but especially this lovely beautiful book, that does the book justice, is like trying to fit a round nail into a square peg. It simply cannot be done. But I will try to do the best I can. I first came upon this work through goodreads first, as several of the people I followed recommended it, and also through a friend. When I saw what it was about, and that it combined all of my favorite elements of a fantasy, including librarians, books, magic, god’s, ghosts, monsters, angels, and a fantastical journey to an atmospheric and magical place, I jumped at it, and it did not disappoint.

Lazlo Strange is an orphaned junior librarian who resides in the city of Zosma. Like any librarian he spends his days among the stacks of dusty volumes in the library of Zosma, and like every librarian he also has dreams that he wants to follow. Since he was small, he has dreamed about a mythic lost city called Weep, whose real name has been erased from history, and whose stories are only told and remembered in the dusty old volumes of fairy tales and histories that have all been but forgotten. Reading and writing and dreaming about Weep, Lazlo naturally wishes one day to visit this mythic lost city. But honestly never expected his dreams to amount to much. Until one day, by chance, a group of warriors led by someone called the Godslayer, from none other than the mythic lost city, visits Zosma, seeking a delegation of people to go back with them to the city of Weep to help solve a problem. And suddenly Lazlo gets the chance to pursue his dreams in a way he never thought possible. On this journey he meets many people, including a half human goddess named Sarai, the Godslayer’s long suffering wife Azareen, and the prince Thyon Nero, among others, has many fantastical experiences, and many mysteries await him. Including: What is this mysterious problem in Weep that none of its delegates seem to want to reveal? What happened to Weep to hide it from the rest of the world? What creatures call themselves gods? And how could have Lazlo dreamt of a blue skinned goddess before he even knew she existed?

The themes running through this beautiful piece of fiction are vast and dense, and intense. This story is about many things including chasing your dreams and the importance of never giving up on those dreams. It’s about relationships and the difficult and painful things we can do to those we love and don’t love. It’s about war, and the tolls, both emotional and physical, it takes on everyone involved. It’s about hate, and the damage revenge can do on both those that give it and the ones receiving it. It’s about love, the different kinds of love we all
experience, and what we will do to protect those we love. But most importantly, at it’s heart this story is about identity, both individual, and the crazy journey, our hero Lazlo, takes to find it, and group identity in how we see those different from us and how we react to those differences. These themes are inter-mingled to form a compelling intense and beautiful narrative.

Where Taylor really shines through here is her prose. She really uses prose brilliantly to make each character take an emotional journey of their own, which serves to display and inter weave those narratives beautifully. And the words were so brilliantly chosen, that whenever a character spoke about a difficult subject, it was like I was there with them and felt what they did. When you have that strong of an emotional connection, that to me, says the author was doing their job. The atmospheric, dreamy, quality of the prose, also made the world’s, both dream and fictional, come alive in a way that I have seen few authors really achieve.

This brilliant beautiful adventure story about a junior librarian, should be on everyone’s to read lists. The emotional intensity of it… I felt like it ripped my heart out of my chest and then put it back again. If you haven’t yet, run, don’t walk, to put it on hold or check it out. This story has something in it for everyone, and you won’t be disappointed!

Reviewer's Name: 
Tawnie M.

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