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The most beautiful books are always the hardest to review, and whatever I write, it is difficult to capture the sheer beauty that is Laini Taylor’s prose, while embracing the mesmerising surreality of the worlds she conceives. Her style is lyrical, evocative, and rich with imagination. Strange the Dreamer is unlike any tale you may read this year, but suffice to say it is an immersive, magical read with a taste of romance and tragedy. Add this to your reading list this winter.
They say that the dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around, and Lazlo Strange has always been a dreamer. A war orphan and a librarian, Lazlo has always been fascinated in fairy tale and myth, particularly that concerning the lost city known as Weep. But what happened to the city 200 years ago, when it was cut from the world? And why – how? – did it lose its name, 15 years ago? Lazlo has always wondered, but feared he would not be the one to find it. For he is just a librarian, no hero, no golden alchemist, no legend in the making. However, when a living legend, the man they call the Godslayer, suddenly appears on the doorstep – together with a band of unusual beasts and heralded by a great white bird – Lazlo realises he cannot let this opportunity slip through his fingers.
But Weep is not the city he has dreamed of. It is buried in sadness and burdened with a past that haunts even those that can no longer remember it, hidden in the shadows of the mysterious “gods”. These gods may have been destroyed, but their presence still lingers on in the darkness and the flicker of a moth’s wing, and in the shattered hearts of those touched by the tragedy of their reign.
The prose is exquisite and rich, the characters wonderfully real. Between these pages there is heartbreak and hope, both bittersweet and beautiful. Taylor has taken the traditional tale: the orphaned underdog rising to become the hero, but given it a fresh twist and an exotic taste. It will entrance you, surprise you, and haunt you long after that final page is turned.
Reviewed by Angela Oliver
Strange the Dreamer
by Laini Taylor
Published by Hodder & Stoughton