Book Review : Muse of Nightmares (Strange The Dreamer #2) by Laini Taylor

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.

It looks like Laini Taylor can never disappoint me. This sequel did things I’d never imagined it would. I’m thoroughly satisfied.

I was at my wit’s end, when I finished Strange The Dreamer, thinking about how Lazlo and Sarai would be able to escape the predicament they were in at the end. It’s not even a predicament. Sarai is dead. A ghost! How do you even overcome that? But I forgot that it’s Laini freaking Taylor! She can make anything possible and that too convincingly.

Right at the beginning, we get thrown into the story of two brand new characters. And I never like when that happens in a sequel. I find it very difficult to invest in the story of new characters when there’s already-established favorite characters I’m worried about! It was the same for me here when we get introduced to the twin sisters Nova and Cora. But Laini weaved such a beautiful tale that slowly and surely I was hooked.

The plotting is done brilliantly. Every little detail is made relevant. The way Taylor connects everything and executes her ideas is nothing short of genius. The book lives up to its title. It’s the Sarai Show. I’d actually thought that with Sarai being a ghost, it would all be up to Lazlo to save the day. But that wasn’t the case. Rather, he takes the backseat to Sarai more often than not in this book.

I can’t remember the last time I was this satisfied with character development in a book. There isn’t one character I couldn’t empathize with. There’s no villains here. Even the characters I absolutely despised in Strange The Dreamer undergo such growths that one can’t help but feel for them. At times I didn’t even need any character-growth to feel empathy. For instance, I found myself empathizing with Miniya even when she was unleashing her cruelty on Lazlo and Sarai. But I think the character-growth that most pleased me was Thyon. His arc was one of the most interestingly written ones.

Lazlo and Sarai were as amazing as ever. Their faith and love for each other was beautiful. I especially loved how Lazlo played a big part in Sarai building her self-confidence. And their capability to empathize and be inherently good earned my appreciation even more. Though, I gotta say that most of their romance scenes were a bit on the fluffier side. Not something I could enjoy when there was so much at stake. It also made for a slower pace at the middle. I think I’ll enjoy those fluffy scenes more my second time reading it as I won’t be in a rush to find out the answers to my questions.

The second half was more tightly paced and only then I could realize how brilliant the build-up to it was in the first half. I loved the epilogue too. There was a part in the end with a clever reference to Taylor’s Daughter of Blood and Smoke. That had me grinning widely!

(Funnily enough, I couldn’t help but think of an adventure game scenario when I was reading the climax. That actually made me realize that this series could be adapted perfectly into a RPG/adventure game.)

Only Laini Taylor can combine a character driven story and a strong plot with enough twists and turns to make it exciting. I would give this 6 stars if I could.

My Rating: ★★★★★

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I’d Love to Meet

Happy Tuesday, people! This is the first time a Top Ten Tuesday prompt has made me sad. Because most of the authors I would love to meet are sadly no more. And it’s also a difficult prompt because every time I read a complex and well-developed book, I feel like meeting the author and picking their brains.

So, I’ve decided to divide this list into two parts – English authors and Non-Engish authors. It so happens that all the Non-English authors have passed away and you might not have heard of most of them. This is sort of a tribute from me to them.

Btw, Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly blog meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Check out her blog for more awesome content!

English Authors

Neil Gaiman : One word – Sandman. I dare anyone to read Sandman and not be left speechless. Of course, all his works are amazing. But Sandman is just out-of-the-world brilliant. Any man who can create something like that is a man I would love to know personally.

Laini Taylor : I’d love to get a glimpse into the mind that comes up with the things Laini Taylor does. She’s one of my most favorite contemporary storytellers and her writing blows my mind every time. A conversation with her would be awe-inspiring.

Melina Marchetta: I need her to write more stories from the Lumatere Chronicles universe. I don’t see any chances of that happening anytime in the near future. So, I need to meet her and ask her about some of my favorite characters and what she imagines in their future. I would even attempt to persuade her to write short stories about these characters. There’s no harm in trying, right?

V. E. Schwab : I need to meet this woman and make her assure me of happy ending for all my favorite characters in the Villains Universe. I would even plead with her to start a X-Men kinda academy for the EOs. A girl can dream, right?

Khalid Hussaini : I just need to sit and talk with this man. I don’t know what we’ll talk about. But I know that it’s gonna be enlightening.

Non-English Authors

Stieg Larsson : I still remember the void I felt when I discovered only after finishing the Milennium Trilogy that Stieg Larsson had passed away without giving a proper closure to the series which he planned to extend to write 10 books. It’s one of the impactful trilogy I’ve read and yet I can’t make myself reread it in fear of suffering that same despair. What I wouldn’t give to find out what Larsson had in mind for the series!

Rumi : I am not particularly obsessed with poetry but I do appreciate its beauty whenever I come across it. Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi is a poet who never fails to captivate me with his poetry. I haven’t read all of his works, not even close. But whatever I’ve read of his has left an impact on me. His poetry always leaves me feeling serene. I wonder what his real presence would be like.

Kazi Nazrul Islam : He’s the national poet of Bangladesh. His name is synonymous with youthfulness, revolution avante garde music and secularism in our country. He was termed as the Rebel Poet for his open social activism against the British Colonialism of the Indian Subcontinent through his literary works. His “Bidrohi – The Rebel” might be my favorite poem of all time. He lost his ability to write at the age of 43 due to rare neurological disease. What a trafedy for a gem like him. I think even half an hour under his presence could have an irrevocable effect on my life.

Rabindranath Tagore : The first Non-European to have won the Nobel Prize in Literature, his impact on the culture of the Indian Sub-continent is unparalleled. Tagore’s works shaped up my childhood. Aptly called ” The Bard of Bengal”, his wisdom comes across in spades in his literary works and music. I have read some great stories about people meeting him. Made me sad that I never could.

Begum Rokeya : She is a pioneer for women rights and female education in the Indian-Subcontinent through her social activism and literary works during the British rule. The women of my country owe a lot to her. It still amazes me how she managed to accomplish so much in an age when women going out or being activists was an unimaginable feat. Although I wouldn’t want to be born in her time, I do long to meet a woman of her strength.

I know I rambled a lot more than usual in this one. Meh. Couldn’t help myself.