This review is spoiler-free so don’t worry about being spoiled if you haven’t read Strange the Dreamer. I suggest skipping the synopsis though. If you’re interested in my review for Strange, you can check it out here. It’s one of the first reviews I posted so don’t judge me too harshly.
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.
Published October 2, 2018 by Hodder & Stoughton • 528 pages • Fantasy, Young Adult • Series: Strange the Dreamer #2
I really enjoyed Muse of Nightmares. It was a bit slow in some parts, but the story was beautifully written, the characters were multi-dimensional and the conclusion was remarkably satisfying. Muse answers burning questions and expands this world in an unexpected way. In fact, this expansion led to more questions.
Muse of Nightmares picks up exactly where Strange the Dreamer left off. Everything is kind of chaotic and confusing for the characters. The plot is centered on the fallout from the end of Strange and flashbacks that eventually intertwine with the present-day story. It’s a pretty tragic story; however, Taylor did a phenomenal job connecting the two plots.
The characters. One of my favorite things about this duology are the characters and their growth. Lazlo is still a sweetheart with a kind soul, which is not typical for YA male characters. Sarai stands out in this book in a powerful way, and Ruby and Sparrow are still fantastic side characters. Even though the plot doesn’t revolve around Ruby and Sparrow, they contribute so much to the story. The other side characters (Aril Fane, Thyon, Calixte) were written well and they received just as much development as the main characters.
I understand a lot of people hate Minya, but I love her character. I liked the way Laini Taylor explored her past in Muse. I thought it was handled with care and patience given what she experienced. Although she is driven by vengeance and acts like a little tyrant, Muse peeled back some layers that I think helps readers who hate her empathize with her.
Laini Taylor has a way with words. By some strange magic, I was really impressed with her writing in this book. I didn’t know that was possible because I liked her writing in Strange. It feels kind of enchanting. Her writing is the reason I finished this monster so quickly. Not to mention, she employed one of my favorite tropes —strong sibling relationships — and managed to redeem an unlikable character. She made me care about a character that I used to hate. That’s some kind of sorcery right there because very few authors have done that.
As I stated, this book is beautiful. However, the pacing was slow at times and I had mixed feelings about the romance. Because of the way Strange ended, I expected Muse to keep its foot on the gas the entire story. I think some of the flashbacks could’ve been shortened because they dragged the plot at times. That wasn’t always the case though. The other problem I had with this book was the romance, which is quite surprising. I liked Sarai and Lazlo’s relationship in Strange despite it being super insta-love. In Muse, their declarations and the intensity of the relationship was a bit too much for me in the first half. I still think their relationship is adorable though.
I’m surprised—and pleased—that I finished Muse as quickly as I did because it’s a pretty big book. I loved Taylor’s execution and her ability to tell a story that’s so character-driven. I would love to know what these characters are up to in 5+ years (anything before that would be too soon) because there’s definitely more stories to tell.
Recommendation: If you enjoyed Strange the Dreamer, then you’ll enjoy Muse of Nightmares. You might even enjoy it more because the world is already establish.
Trigger warning: suicide, slavery, rape (off page)
Have you read Muse of Nightmares? If so, what are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!