Friday, April 07, 2017

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Lazlo regularly dreams of a faraway land, one of mystery and marvel. This place traded regularly with Lazlo’s home city…until one day it disappeared, never heard from again. Two hundred years later, Lazlo is one of few remaining people who remember the tales of this majestic place. As a young child, during one of his imagined recreations of the city’s legendary presence, the impossible happens. The real name of the city disappears from his mind, and he remembers it only as Weep. He isn’t the only person effected; no living person or written record recalls a name other than Weep. As Lazlo leaves the monastery where he was raised to become a junior librarian, his life goal is to learn what happened to Weep. The book would be without purpose if Lazlo did not get a chance to travel to Weep and uncover its mysteries, so an opportunity arises.

Strange the Dreamer entraps the reader’s interest immediately with this gripping beginning. This mystery is one of many presented by the novel; with each new detail the reader solves, the author brings out something new that shocks and awes. The world Laini Taylor creates is beautiful and so full of wonder, partly because Lazlo's thinks in that way. He is relentlessly optimistic, and hopelessly innocent, and incapable of seeing the bad in people without first recognizing the good. Strange the Dreamer is Lazlo’s story—the title is named after him—but he shares his adventure with many others. Each of those characters adds their own depth to the story.

Sarai, the Muse of Nightmares, is Lazlo’s other half. With identities that clearly juxtapose each other, there is no doubt that Lazlo and Sarai are destined for something together. The love between a wistful dreamer and a nightmare-bringer is the making of legends. Half the book goes by before these two get to meet, but the reader spends that time patiently anticipating the inevitable connection.

Taylor knows how to create the unpredictable, and does it better than she ever has before with this book. Strange the Dreamer never stops building the suspense. The world building is perfect; Taylor developed a rich, detailed fantasy realm. The writing is poetic and dreamy and showcases every bit of Laini Taylor’s incredible writing talent. If you want a book that will make you happy, sad, wistful, surprised—any emotion you can imagine—Strange the Dreamer should be your next read.

Strange the Dreamer will be available soon at VBPL. I read the book as an Advanced Reader’s Copy (ARC), provided to me by Baker & Taylor at VBPL’s 2017 All Staff Training Day.

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