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Review: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

“The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around”– and this much is true for Lazlo Strange, a junior librarian obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, a fallen world whose very name disappeared from the world, the city along with it. Filled with dreams and monsters, gods and magic, Laini Taylor’s new fantasy is just as fairy-tale-esque as it sounds.

I was hooked from the start. Lazlo Strange is a sweet and likable protagonist who I enjoyed following. He suffers a bit from Laini Taylor’s typical protagonist blandness (they’re all just so nice!), but really it was the plot I was there for. Intriguing from page one, Laini Taylor presents us with so many fantastic ideas and interesting questions to be answered, all written with a prose so purple I should have hated it, but when it’s Laini Taylor I just lap it up.

“There were two mysteries, actually: one old, one new. The old one opened his mind, but it was the new one that climbed inside, turned several circles, and settled in with a grunt – like a satisfied dragon in a cosy new lair. And there it would remain – the mystery, in his mind – exhaling enigma for years to come.”

Laini Taylor has truly stand-out ideas, fantasy that draws from myths and fairy-tales, the kind of stories where you have no way of predicting what’s going to happen. Flowery language just works with these sorts of books, where it feels like you’re reading a relic from another time. I could have her spoon-feed me her prose. Well, most of it anyway. Some was a bit excessive.

Tears sheeted down her cheeks the way the monsoon rains sheeted down the smooth contours of the citadel in summer, flooding in through all the open doors, a rolling deluge of rain across the slick floors and nothing to do but wait for it to stop.

It’s difficult to know what to say when part of the enjoyment of this book comes from going in blind. The blurb is vague, my initial description even more so, but sometimes a book comes along that is worth the leap of faith.

All I will tell you that it is a myth, a legend with so many elements that we do not see enough of in the fantasy genre, especially in YA. It’s a book that will enchant you and mystify you, and that is where I will leave it.


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