Lazlo Strange is the unofficial expert on a dessert city that shut itself of from the world nearly two hundred years ago and suddenly disappeared from memory fifteen years ago. From scraps of receipts, forgotten tomes and fairy tales Lazlo pieces together their language and history but one question still haunts him: what happened to it? His lifelong ambition is to refind the city, but he soon discovers how cruel the world can be when his dream comes to him.
The first aspect of this novel that I have to talk about is the writing style. I love Laini Taylor’s writing, regardless of which of her novels I read. Her quotes are magical, her descriptions vivid and her books are stuffed with exceptional uses of the English language that I fall completely into their realms. Peppered with unusual new words and an exciting narrative I was easily drawn into Lazlo’s story.
“There were no books to hide behind, and no shadows- only Lazlo Strange in his work gray robes, with his nose that had been broken by fairy tales, looking like the hero of no story ever told.
The characters in this novel are well written and complex. I enjoyed Lazlos internal struggle with staying safely among his books or searching the horizon for adventure, and loved the conversations he had with a fond elderly librarian who was convinced Lazlo should replace books with girls. Sarai faced similar internal conflict: support her family’s hatred of Weep or fight for a peace that nobody but her seems to want. These struggles made them both unique narrators and gave their decisions more gravitas to the reader. I also enjoyed how fleshed out many of the side characters were, particularly Nero and Eril-Fane, who’s characters were both important to Lazlo’s plot while following their own story and developing in their own way.
Character development is something Taylor does particularly well. Even minor characters like Ruby and Feral mature and grow throughout the novel and I love how in depth all the backstories and development is. Of course out protagonist, Lazlo, shows key development throughout the novel, as he learns who he is and that maybe, just once, this story is his.
“Lazlo couldn’t have belonged at the library more truly if he were a book himself”
Forbidden love is a key theme in this novel. It’s very Romeo and Juliet esque and I enjoyed seeing Sarai come to life as she met Lazlo. I wouldn’t say it was a slow burn romance but it was so sweet how they made each others dreams come true, quite literally, and slowly learnt to trust the impossible together. Their love is sweet but often mixed with the darked undertone as it is shown to the reader early on that they both often put too much stock in dreams. I also enjoyed seeing the developing relationship between my favourite character, the wall climbing, spunky, jewel thief Calixite, and her girlfriend, and hope they’ll get more page time in the sequel.
Another key theme was friendship. The friendship between Ruza and Lazlo was full of short quips and friendly banter, which balanced the serious tone of the novel and was heart warming to read. It would have been nice to have seen more of Lazlo’s friendships in Weep, but given the novel was already 500 pages this might be a bit ambitious. The theme of friendship further purists in the Citadel where the five residents treat each other like family, bickering and helping each other, and the nature of their relationship to each other was often brought into question throughout the story.
“I think you’re a fairy tale. I think you’re magical, and brave, and exquisite. And I hope you’ll let me be in your story“
I found the book well paced. The challenges characters face are woven amongst the scenes of romance and action, giving the novel a good balance and catering well to a variety of fantasy readers. The plot is well balanced and works well, it has dark themes and I wouldn’t recommend this novel to younger readers, but would suggest it to Adult Fantasy fans.
Being set in a different realm and involving vasts amounts of details about the mysterious city, Weep, and the lives of its occupants, a lot of the novel is world building. This is entertaining to read and the details are dotted throughout the plot, and often is explained through story telling, meaning you don’t end up wading in pages of monotonous detail. The vividly describes world, creative and intricate details, created a magical backdrop for this story to be told on.
“Life won’t just happen to you boy, You have to happen to it”
Overall I really enjoyed Strange the Dreamer. The writing is beautiful and the characters vivid and interesting, and I’m very excited to share with you all my opinions on Muse of Nightmares Thursday!