Book cover of Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

On the second Sabbat of Twelfthmoon, in the city of Weep, a girl fell from the sky.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Beautiful and full of monsters

I judge fantasy books based on their ability to contort reality, making me believe this entirely fictional world is real. What I focus on is the dynamic nature of a fantasy story. In that plot-twist atmosphere, conspiracies, magic, running, and fighting (if it’s all done well), I can sometimes overlook some imperfections in the world-building. That still makes for a great book, and I will praise it when I finish reading it, but the enthusiasm will probably disappear with my next read.

The books that check all the boxes and leave me in awe are rare. Those are the ones where I feel like I’m closing the doors to an entirely new universe when I turn the last page, and I can still see the light of those strange stars shining from it. That light is the magic they spilled on me, showing me a beautiful dream a human has threaded while awake.

This was Strange the Dreamer for me. I read it for the first time a few years back, and since then, it’s been on my shelf glistening and waiting for me to pick it up again. For some reason (and I really don’t know what that reason was – I have no excuse), I never picked up the sequel, and I can’t believe I let that happen.

Strange the Dreamer – a Hero of No Story Ever Told

Every mind is its own world. Most occupy a vast middle ground of ordinary, while others are more distinct: pleasant, even beautiful, or sometimes slippery and unaccountably wrong-feeling.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Laini Taylor’s mind is brilliant. I am so happy that the world has the chance to witness that. There’s not a moment in this book where my focus dropped. Her voice and just general storytelling are so unique.

I love that she used the third-person narration because we’re obviously one step ahead of the characters, and we realize and connect things before them, but I also like how intimately we get to know their thoughts. The third-person narration doesn’t create distance between the character and the reader.

Lazlo couldn’t have belonged at the library more truly if he were a book himself.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Dreamy world of Lazlo Strange

Obviously, a big part of this story is the world of dreams. Dreams are a particular pocket of our conscience that almost have no rules to abide by. That’s why it’s always fun to see them in books. In Strange the Dreamer, we see in such a creative way just how they can be used to thread the story. Laini Taylor used the characteristics of dreams, like no borders, shifting through scenes, and changing shapes, and gave the story a unique flow.

But in the world of dreams also resides the nightmare. Strange the Dreamer perfectly showed how nightmares affect people and what feeds those nightmares, and it was just a great depiction of the process of dreaming. That part, the torment, and the agony were executed fantastically. As I said, the real life of the characters in the book, and their trauma, have a lot to do with what they dream of, and I love how Strange the Dreamer connects those two realities. It makes it so much more terrifying and dreadful.

Strange the Dreamer Come to Life

The motif of dreams ties well with the next point of the book I want to talk about. That is the voice and the narration. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that was this poetic, and it’s what got me the most in Strange the Dreamer. Everything felt like poetry. I got a sense of the full richness of language through this book.

I’m a very visual person, and this book gave me everything. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I can always envision everything a book describes except the characters’ faces and then came this book. It’s so vivid. It masters visual presentation like no other, and that’s where its magic lies. I could give so many examples of this, but just Lazlo’s description is enough. I could see him clearly the whole time. Laini Taylor wrote details that keep the book – any aspect of it – so real and alive.

A Dream to a Nightmare

Looking at the story itself, it managed to be dreamy, sweet, magical, infuriating, gut-wrenching, dynamic, terrifying, and exciting all in one. Lazlo was an optimist who saw the light and beauty in everything. He was so innocent in his view of the world. I loved how his character developed throughout the book. Everyone liked him. He was just like that. He was definitely giving golden retriever energy. He dreamed big and made his dream come true.

His actual dreams were a safe space both for him and Sarai to hide in and for us readers to read. It was the one place all of us could escape to, to hide from the nightmare outside.

I loved his relationship with Calixte. Their friendship and humor were a much-needed pause from all the overall terror of the story. They acted like siblings, and I like how it made Lazlo comfortable to hold conversations and show his wit. From the loner librarian, he really blossomed in Weep (which sounds so ironic).

Strange the Dreamer gave us many tragic stories. They were so hard to digest because of how layered they were. Everyone was right in their reasoning, which is the most agonizing part. It showed different ways trauma affects people. It burdens them, guides their choices, and confronts them with each other.

She was young and lovely and surprised and dead.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

In that aspect, the story of Sarai was incredibly sad. She is the only one who knows both sides of the story and is torn between them. Her hopelessness and the loneliness she feels are so real and present. At times it felt factual, which is the ultimate loss of hope.

Every character deserves their own mention, but the Minya – Eril-Fane link was particularly complex. I feel like they are the two faces of the same coin. They both act the same and have the same determination. They are two different results of the same trauma, so they oppose each other directly.

Minya was the hardest character to understand. The trauma consumed and corrupted her. At times it feels like she’s trapped inside her own mind. I feel like that predestines her character because there’s only one solution for her.

Strange the Dreamer and Muse of Nightmares

Moth by moth, the tale of Strange the Dreamer unraveled. And when I turned around, it was dawn, and the sun shined again. But I don’t have to blink the dreams away just yet…

I’ll wrap this review up, so I can go back to reading the sequel – Muse of Nightmares. I have so much more to say about our ever Strange, the Forever Dreamer. There are so many things in this book to discuss, although all the analyses will lead to the same conclusion – I want to memorize every single word, so I always have this book with me. I want it tattooed on me. I love it, and also please read it (or reread it), so we can both gush over it.

Have you read Strange the Dreamer? How did you like it? If you haven’t, go do it. It’s okay, you can thank me later 😉

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