Muse of Nightmares (Strange the Dreamer, #2)by Laini Taylor Published 02 Oct 2018
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|Publisher||Little, Brown Books for Young Readers|
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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 astonishing and heart-stopping sequel to the New York Times bestseller, Strange the Dreamer.
"Muse of Nightmares (Strange the Dreamer, #2)" Reviews
Good little girls don’t kill. They die.
And Minya was not a good little girl.
I know a lot of us were expecting Muse of Nightmares to be good, but I have to say, this book actually exceeded my expectations. I have a lump in my throat and I can't stop thinking about it. I usually spend time making detailed notes while reading a book but, at one point, I opened Notes on my computer just to type "oh fucking god, this is so good".
No spoilers, of course. The beginning opens by introducing us to two new characters - Kora and Nova - and their compelling story eventually becomes deeply-entwined with the main plot in ways that were unexpected, thrilling, and sad.
If you are that sort of reader, this is definitely a crying book. There is one scene - you'll know it when you come to it - that was so heartbreakingly emotional that I had to put the book down for a few minutes to organize my feelings. Taylor creates such strong ties between characters that it feels like a physical, painful thing when those ties are broken.
The story at the heart of Muse of Nightmares continues Strange the Dreamer in that it's about discovering the origins of Weep and the floating citadel. What really happened all those years ago? How did five half-human children survive the Carnage and become trapped in a secret prison?
Finding out opens up doors to horrors and, let me tell you-- some parts of this are really creepy.
The little girl thrummed with a dark fervor, eyes big and glazed, breath fast and shallow, skin seeming to crackle with a barely contained energy. In a baleful singsong that sent chills down Sarai’s spine, she said, “You shouldn’t be in here,” and Sarai didn’t know if she meant in the nursery or in the dream, but the words, the tone, seemed to slide into a dance with the unmoored shadows and the thrum, and it was all getting faster and louder, and the shadows were closing in, and a terrible dread stirred in her.
Taylor tells the story in parts, through different perspectives, and these eventually come together to form a whole. The plot and world here are pretty dense, but that made it even more rewarding for me when I discovered how everything was connected. It's such a complex, thoughtful and imaginative plot, quite unlike anything I've ever read before.
When a hundred sets of eyes pin you in place, and all of them see the same thing, how can you not be that thing? The Tizerkane looked at children and saw monsters, and Minya’s darkest self rose to the challenge.
Older characters continue to fascinate, while the new additions bring something fresh and exciting to the story. Minya, for one, is such a fantastic messed-up character, and we get to delve deep inside her mind (literally!) in this book. Cute side relationships between Ruby and Feral, and Calixte and Tzara, offer some much-needed light and happiness, too.
I think, overall, this is just a really great book. It's well-plotted, it's unique, and it's... maybe not the end(?) 🤞
CW: [spoilers removed]
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Once upon a time there was a silence that dreamed of becoming a song, and then I found you, and now everything is music.
This is one of the most beautifully written books I have ever read. I am always mesmerized by how much emotion a single word can carry and Laini Taylor has honed that skill to perfection. Her writing is truly divine. Every time I read one of her books I never fail to notice that she uses words so perfectly that not a single phrase could have been written any better. Every sentence seems near musical and not a single one is out of place. Words simple seem to do her bidding and I am forever in awe. Inconsequential of the characters, the plot, and the story, her writing is simply magical.
This book and the last were both absolutely fantastic and are on my favorites list. The characters are beautifully written and I love every single one of them from this world to the next and back. Lazlo Strange is everything that's right in the world personified in one body. His character is one of my favorite things about this series and even though so much happens in this book and the last he maintains a central role in the story which I absolutely loved. Sarai, Sparrow, Feral, and Minya each have remarkably different personalities and watching them revolve around one another and now Lazlo is fascinating. We also see Eril-Fane, Azareen, Thyon Nero, Calixte, and Suheyla and all of them play amazing roles in this story however simple they might be.
The story is exceptionally narrated. Every single part of the book contains so much emotion about love, loss, and heartbreak. If you think about it, the story is fundamentally very simple but the abundance of emotion that follows every instance is what makes the book so uniquely beautiful. Every character brings out more emotion from the person they’re standing next to and even when all we hear is the thoughts of one character the depth of emotion that is infused into it is unbelievable.
This book reveals a lot more about the past of the godspawn and a few new characters are introduced in this world. We see so much more about Minya in terms of her character and the burden she bears and I loved the part she plays in this story. In this book, Laini Taylor switches between the story and characters that we already know and another story from this universe’s past. This story takes place before that of Lazlo and Sarai and watching this story collide with ours in the present is breathtaking.
I loved every single sentence in this book and will miss this series dearly. I obviously give this book 5 stars and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
I'm pretty sure Laini Taylor books just exist to capture and devour your entire SOUL AND IMAGINATION. I just went on such a wild adventure omg, I feel acTUALLY DRAINED. Like this duology has totally filled my creative well. I am heart eyes and my heart so so full and !!!! my emotions are just !!! which is exactly how a professionally reviewer would summarise a book.
So this takes off basically seconds after Strange The Dreamer ends. Who needs to pause for breathe. No you don't. You get tossed back in with your heart in your mouth, watching everything unravel. But may I just say the pacing was perfect?! This duology isn't a "break neck speed action adventure" and for that I love it. Oh there are plenty of action scenes at the end. But it balances them with so much thoughts and feeling, explorations of ACTUAL OTHER DIMENSIONS AND UNIVERSES, and delicately crafted characters who just feel real now.
THE CHARACTERS AFDJAKSLDFLJFD. They are the light of my little heart!! Ahh!! We actually start the book getting introduced to two new girls: Nova and Kova. Who become so pivotal to the story omg. But we get all the old favourites and I just !!! I really truly care about so many of them. And my favourite thing is how the characters aren't always GOOD or BAD. They can so easily fit into both. I absolutely feel for the antagonists. AHHHH I feel all the things for Minya. Holy fafhfashs I love Minya.
But also we have:
• LAZLO AND SARAI: Actually Lazlo doesn't have quite a front-position for this one. We don't spend as much time in his head. I missed him a LOT. But he's there!! It's just there were a lot of other things to cover, and I really did feel this was Sarai's book. (HELLO THE TITLE.) And ajfdkslad SaRAIA. She is so sweet and obviously her role in the story (and in life) is tenuous and terrifying. AHHHHH. I love love love how she wants to save people and turn her nightmares into understanding others and helping them out of their cycles of hate and terror.
• RUBY, SPARROW AND FERAL: Ok they are the best teens ever. Because they're like these little blue-skinned wizard gods and such teenagers. Lmao. Feral is clueless. Ruby is a bundle of raging hormones. Sparrow is soft and perfect...and surprising !!
• MINYA: I freaking love her ok. Everything she does is to protect the others. I can't even. I love love love how she's written - so you can fully hate her and what she does BUT UNDERSTAND HER. [spoilers removed]
• THYRON NERO: Can I just say that he has an amazing character arc. I kind of love Thyon. I always shipped him like just 2% with Lazlo at the beginning lmao. And omg Thyon. I'm dyyying. I love how he and Calixte develop a friendship, and then he and Ruza and Tzara. LIKE LIVING FOR THYON BECOMING AS PRETTY INSIDE AS HE IS OUTSIDE. [spoilers removed]
• ERIL-FANE: guyyyys I love this tortured damaged soul. I think he's such a good representation of PTSD and I just ache for him but am also so proud!!
• SUHEYLA: an actual queeeeeeen I love her so much [spoilers removed]
basically perfect characters are perfect. Everyone is dimensional and complex and STOLE MY HEART. I love that I could hate/love the antagonists (they're never really villains) and care about the side-characters after only a few heartbeats!
Also book 1 left us with SO many questions. This one answers! And it will EXPLODE your mind how big the world gets. It's complicated and huge and detailed. The first book is riddled with foreshadowing and omg it ties in so well?! Also shout out to those Daughter of Smoke and Bone references! I see what you did there.
We get to find out where the seraphim came from, who the blue-skinned gods are, why they were breeding babies, what else the gods can even do, what this means for Weep...
...oh and I KNOW WHAT WEEP'S TRUE NAME IS. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I also just adore the magic and how fervently and beautifully it's crafted. Seriously the descriptions are lush and the world building is perfectly and extraordinarily magic. IS there writing I love as much as this?! sajfkldsad I am besotted and cannot be made to stop.
One thing I always worry about with finales is: "hey but will this break me or be satisfying?" And I'm proud that MUSE did both these things. It is satisfying, but it doesn't shut doors. It is heartbreaking, but it doesn't leave me disappointed. IT IS PERFECT IS WHAT I'M TRYING TO SAY.
HOW IS IT SO PERFECT.
IT IS PERFECT.
ARC provided by Hachette in exchange for an honest review.
1.) Strange the Dreamer ★★★★★
“I would have chosen you, if they had let me choose.”
Strange the Dreamer was my favorite book of 2017, and Muse of Nightmares is probably going to be my favorite book of 2018. These two books just bring so much love into my heart, and so much hope into my soul. I have no word combinations to ever begin to describe how much this book meant to me, or to do a review worthy of it, but I am going to try.
“Sarai had lived and breathed nightmares since she was six years old. For four thousand nights she had explored the dreamscapes of Weep, witnessing horrors and creating them. She was the Muse of Nightmares.”
Whenever I try to give a synopsis for Strange the Dreamer I always say it’s about a librarian who is in love with a lost city, and a girl who only wants to know what love is. Muse of Nightmares is a story all about love, and the different kinds of love that we will experience, and some that we will never experience, in our lifetime. The love between found families everywhere, between siblings both blood and not, between parents both distant and close, between lovers both new and old. And how all this love makes us choose actions that are both good and bad and all the things in-between. Love is truly the most complex force in the entire world, but when someone loves selflessly it can change everything. Sometimes we are unaware of how much power we have inside us, especially when that power is kindled from unconditional love.
“For fifteen years, the people of Weep had lived with the certainty that the monsters were dead, and Eril-Fane had lived with the burden of it…”
And this book picks right up after the harrowing events in Strange the Dreamer. So many of these characters, both blue and not, are dealing with a monumental amount of sorrow and grief. Lazlo, the librarian who has finally found the city that has taken over his heart and mind for his entire life, is going through the greatest amount of changes.
If Strange the Dreamer is about finding the lost city of Weep, Muse of Nightmares is about why no one can remember the city in the first place. We get so much background on so many different worlds, and we get to see them all thread together to create a universe truly unlike anything else. But beautiful and terrible things happen in the name of good and bad, and we get to see pivotal choices be made, that resulted in what happened to Weep.
“Skathis: god of beasts, king of horrors, daughter-stealer, city-crusher, monster of monsters, madman.”
Yet, Muse of Nightmares also introduces you to two new characters: Kora and Nova. They are sisters that were born long before the last Godspawn, but the two stories quickly entangle with each other. And their sisterhood, even though heartbreaking, is so damn beautiful. Laini Taylor really expands on not only this story, but this world and universe too! And you’ll quickly see how this can all be connected to the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. And even though this was the final book in this duology, I believe Laini has so much more in store for us.
I’ve been reading stories for over two decades and, in my opinion, Laini Taylor is the best storyteller I’ve ever read. Her words have such a magical impact on me, and I honestly think she has to be a little supernatural to weave words the way she does. (I’m secretly hoping she is fae!) You can just feel so much emotion while reading her passages, like she truly pours every ounce of herself into the words she uses, and I truly think there isn’t another human on earth who can do what she does. The word “beautiful” doesn’t even do her prose justice, so I’ll just say that it’s completely magical, so very immersive, and totally enthralling. She is easily my favorite author of all time.
“The gods had been dead for fifteen years, after all, but their hate had lingered, and ruled in their stead.”
I can’t even believe I’m typing this paragraph, but this book also heavily deals with children in cages, which is something that I truly, with my entire being, wish was only in fiction. Sadly, it’s not. Some of the scenes in this book were a little harder than most, just because of what is going on in 2018, so please be warned going in. Also, trigger and content warnings for war themes, death, torture, graphic blood depictions, slavery, human trafficking, a lot of talk of implied past rape, rape, extreme parental abuse, child abuse, thoughts of suicide, suicide, PTSD, grief, trauma, and sexual content.
Trauma and grief, and how each person deals with those two things very differently, plays a huge role in this book. Yet, this story is a love letter to how we don’t have to be the mistakes of our ancestors. We can change, we can do things differently, and that it’s never too late. And vengeance will always be a driving factor, but you’ll soon realize that nothing, not even redemption, will lessen the feeling of loss. The only thing that can heal is love, but that’s a lesson that is so very hard to learn at times.
“Once upon a time, a sister made a vow she didn’t know how to break, and it broke her instead. Once upon a time, a girl did the impossible, but she did it just a little too late.”
Overall, I’m not sure another story will ever touch me like this duology has. My review doesn’t even do it justice, honestly. This is a once in a lifetime story that I will cherish for the rest of my life. This isn’t just a shining star in literature, but a glowing constellation over the world. If you haven’t picked up Strange the Dreamer, please do so, because I love this series with every bone in my body, with my heart, with my soul, with every fiber of my very being. And remember, it is never too late to start over, and it’s never too late to do good.
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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
(Forever thankful for Arys, for trading me an ARC of what I'm sure will be my favorite book of 2018! You will never know how much this means to me, but I promise I'll cherish this ARC forever. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart and soul, thank you! 💖)
11-1-18 Look what came today! I already showed Strange the Dreamer but I got Muse of Nightmares too through Illumicrate with Silver Sprayed Edges to go with the front of the book. A dream journal, beautiful art work and a letter from the author and signed editions. Just keep them coming! ♥
Do y'all like my funko pop I made of Sarai? I would liked to have made a better one but it's okay =)
Listened to the audible first thing. I can't even right now!! I love Laini Taylor!! God, this book. More thoughts later and pics of my not professionally made Funko! 💙 To be continued......
Blog: Melissa Martin's Reading List