I don’t think I could possibly pull a quote from this book–there are just too many. The book demands to be read in its entirety. Once again, Laini Taylor’s writing astounds me. She truly has a gift for describing her own odd, ethereal, beautiful, and sometimes ghastly worlds. One thing you can always expect to see in her writing are images of the vivid and surreal–no doubt her artist’s imagination informs the world of her fantasy. And I have to say, I will always love Dreamdark and Daughter of Smoke and Bone, but Strange the Dreamer might have dreamed its way into the title of my favorite Laini Taylor book. Maybe it’s because it’s about a dreamer and a librarian…and I am a bit biased.
In any case–I loved the world, the gods, the godspawn, the Mesarthim and Mesarthium. I loved that Lazlo Strange’s nose was forever broken from a book of fairytales. I can still remember Laini Taylor speaking about dreams to an eager audience at the Texas Teen Book Festival. This book was everything I hoped it would be after listening to her speak–she is a true champion of following your dreams and it is very evident in her novels–this one most especially.
I only had one major issue with this novel. Perhaps I’m being too critical or nit-picky–I really did enjoy it. BUT….I did feel that the big revelation of Lazlo’s identity was a bit too…..convenient. Or perhaps its because this big revelation of identity IS a major component of the YA novel. I’ve seen it done time and time again–sometimes masterfully and sometimes clumsily. On the spectrum, I felt this revelation inched toward the latter. Perhaps because it felt a little too Dickensian to me–that Lazlo instantly found out who he was and that he could save the day (almost). It was just too easy and yes there were some clues (his skin reaction to the Mesarthium, Nero’s discovery, and the white bird), but it seemed to be too much too soon for me there at the end.
I’ll have to say–it was the very ending and revelation of who Minya is that really saved the novel for me. I will wholeheartedly be looking forward to Muse of Nightmares. And despite my feelings on the identity, I definitely would recommend this book to any dreamer or fantasy reader.
This is the sequel to the amazing Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I realize that it has taken me awhile to get to reading the sequel, especially since I enjoyed the first book so much. I read the first book in the series for a class I took in Spring 2013, a class where I was encouraged to seek out many new books and not read sequels. That is part of the reason why I waited. The other reason was reading A Song of Ice and Fire and also The Demon King series this summer. What can I say? I love me some fantastical worlds.
In any case, I wish I had been able to pick up sequel closer to when I read the first book, because I was simply enthralled, once again, by the world of angels and chimaera that Laini Taylor has created. I love that she has chosen such interesting places to ground the reader in our world, first Prague and now Morocco, to then transport us to the world of Eretz. I really like that none of Karou’s choices are simple, her path is not straightforward, and she is faced with the immense and lonely task of growing up and taking her mentor’s place amongst her people–her people who killed her in a past life. For Karou, the guilt and the loneliness is all-consuming. Taylor once again balances the strangeness of the fantasy world she has created with the fierce inner struggles of her characters. I especially enjoyed when Karou’s friends, against all odds, find and invade her world and refuse to leave her alone. I will be looking forward to the final chapter of this riveting series!
The Book Hunter
Daughter of Smoke and Bone follows the story of Karou, a lonely, very unique, blue-haired girl who attends an art college in Prague. Unlike many heroines in high fantasy, she does not have magical powers herself, but must rely on her adoptive “family” of monsters (Brimstone, Issa, and others), for the power of wishing that she has. It is Brimstone, part beast, part man, the Wishmonger, who deals in wishes. Traders bring him teeth from every species on earth, and Brimstone gives them “wishes” accordingly. Karou longs to know how his magic works, what he does with the teeth, the exact location of his shop (which has portals in every corner of the human world), and why he will reveal nothing about her past. But he keeps these secrets from her, forcing her to be his errand girl in the human world. As a result, Karou feels more alone than ever and struggles to find her identity. At the same time, a devastatingly beautiful and dangerously heartbroken seraph is fighting to end the lives of Karou’s family.
Read this book. Seriously. Over the past few months I have really been enjoying realistic contemporary fiction more than fantasy or science fiction, but this book made me fall in love with the genre all over again. Even though it has a somewhat lengthy page count, I read through this novel ridiculously fast, it was just impossible to put down. Despite the kooky “out-there”-ness of this story, it is so focused in the protagonist of Karou that I had no problem suspending my disbelief as a reader. Karou’s loneliness and her quest for identity are truly what grounds this story, which in all other ways soars high above reality.