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Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor – Review

Cover of Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor is a fantasy story centered around two orphans from completely different worlds, Lazlo Strange and Sarai.

Lazlo is a junior librarian that spends all his free time reading and dreaming. His focus centers around the city of Weep and all the mysteries surrounding it, including the loss of its real name.

Sarai spends her nights in other people’s dreams, creating nightmares.

The story is entertaining and the characters paths are delightfully crossed in unexpected and expected ways. Lazlo and Sarai are both well developed characters, each with personal struggles and an overall desire to do what is right.

Some of Lazlo’s traits are a bit far-fetched. His work as a librarian in service of “scholars” seemingly left him with little time for himself, yet he was able to read an insane amount of books and learn a virtually unknown language. But it is easy to overlook this because he is so likeable. As a dreamer, his dreams spill out into reality, earning him a great deal of respect.

Speaking of dreams, this is a hugely (obvious) motif throughout the story. Thankfully, Taylor does a great job of making the dreams and the metaphor of dreams (and nightmares too) make sense. The reader isn’t bamboozled by long action scenes that turn out to be “just a dream”. We are along for the ride in the dream and know fully aware, and that is appreciated.

Some of the supporting cast is a bit standard fare and predictable. I won’t get into these too much to prevent spoilers. Almost the entire delegation is a pile of generic characters and none are well-developed. But interestingly enough, the villain is not what you’d expect and well crafted.

Strange the Dreamer is a series so I won’t say specifics on this book’s end. But I did enjoy the book as a whole and the ending, while a bit predictable, provided plenty of “feels”.

Taylor is great with descriptions, perhaps a bit too good. Her prose tends to over explain, making sure the reader fully knows exactly what is going on. A little more show than tell would be nice. There are so many times that “blue” is emphasized that it almost made it seem like the only difference between gods and humans was their blueness.

Laini Taylor also wrote the highly enjoyable and award-winning trilogy Daughter of Smoke & Bone. I highly recommend this series.

Pair Strange the Dreamer with some Iron Bean Coffee to really lose yourself in some enjoyable fantasy.