Muse of Nightmares (Strange the Dreamer, #2) by Laini Taylor
Publication Date: October 2nd, 2018
Rating: 4 Stars
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Sarai has lived and breathed nightmares since she was six years old.
She believed she knew every horror and was beyond surprise.
She was wrong.
In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep.
Lazlo faces an unthinkable choice–save the woman he loves, or everyone else?–while Sarai feels more helpless than ever. But is she? Sometimes, only the direst need can teach us our own depths, and Sarai, the muse of nightmares, has not yet discovered what she’s capable of.
As humans and godspawn reel in the aftermath of the citadel’s near fall, a new foe shatters their fragile hopes, and the mysteries of the Mesarthim are resurrected: Where did the gods come from, and why? What was done with thousands of children born in the citadel nursery? And most important of all, as forgotten doors are opened and new worlds revealed: Must heroes always slay monsters, or is it possible to save them instead?
Love and hate, revenge and redemption, destruction and salvation all clash in this gorgeous sequel to the New York Times bestseller, Strange the Dreamer.
WARNING: This review may contain mild spoilers from Strange the Dreamer.
Strange the Dreamer introduced us to the city of Weep. A city shrouded with a deep history of violence and despair, but also saw two dreamers, Sarai and Lazlo, find strength in each other to search for a world of love, magic, and wonder. However, the concluding moments of Strange the Dreamer saw the shattering of this dream, and Muse of Nightmares sees Sarai’s fate tied to the will of revenge-seeking Minya, as Lazlo finds himself caught between the wills of his heart and conscience. His dream of bringing peace to the humans and godspawn of Weep seem like a distant memory as Minya’s wrath calls for the death of the humans that, fuelled by their own desperate despair, slaughtered the innocent whose crime had only been to exist among gods.
You may think that Minya would emerge as the villain of this tale, but Laini Taylor turned it on its head. Instead, we are treated to an introspective insight into Minya’s own trauma, and in turn, her own grief. Much like Eril Fane, Minya’s mind is trapped by the night of the slaughter, and throughout the book, we are treated to a breathtaking journey of retribution, grief, and freedom. Freedom from the weight of the past. In many ways, this felt like Minya’s story as we come to understand the trauma of a little girl who witnessed the atrocities of men. On this journey, we get an insight into this vengeful little girl, and along the way are hit by some startling revelations that highlight just how vulnerable Minya truly is. Her journey was incredibly moving, and a testament to how trauma can influence the direction of one’s life.
We are also introduced to two new characters, whose own lives have equally been shaped by the actions of the gods. Kora and Nova, sisters, bound together by the love and strength they find in each other. There is no one without the other. That is until Skathis comes along and in cleverly inserted chapters, we come to understand the anguish of a sister searching for her other half. This results in a cataclysmic showdown that pits our heroes against yet another casualty of the gods’ brutality. The tragedy of Kora and Nova’s century-spanning tale will have you weeping for their loss, their pain, and their futile hope.
Our characters have always been at the heart of this story, and while the pacing may stagger from time to time, Muse of Nightmares provides further insight into the heart of our haunted characters, treating us to some breathtaking character arcs that see a golden godson humbled by his time in Weep, and a tortured leader find forgiveness in his daughter. The subtlety of their development was both moving and natural as we unravel the fears and regrets of our most beloved heroes.
Muse of Nightmares is a stunning conclusion to a captivating duology. Once again, Taylor has crafted a world of endless possibilities but reminds us that the greatest adventures can come from the dreams we hold dear. It’s a story of freedom and forgiveness as Lazlo and Sarai must find the strength in themselves and in each other to end a cycle of destruction and despair.
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