Posts Tagged ‘laini taylor’

STRANGE THE DREAMER is the story of: – the aftermath of a war between gods and men – a mysterious city stripped of its name – a mythic hero with blood on his hands – a young librarian with a singular dream – a girl every bit as perilous as she is imperiled – alchemy and blood candy, nightmares and godspawn, moths and monsters, friendship and treachery, love and carnage.

Strange the Dreamer

Laini Taylor

Hodder & Stoughton

Supplied by Hatchette New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui Smith

Oh, but this was a strange book indeed, on so many levels. You think you’re reading fantasy, but not quite. There’s an explosionist among the characters; and a distinct psience fiction feel to the magic.  Central to the story are star-crossed lovers. But it carried me away on the wings of dream, so I shall call it a lyric fantasy…

We begin with Lazlo, called “Strange” because he is an orphan of unknown heritage. Brought to a monastery as a nameless baby, he was not expected to survive, but he lives and becomes a scribe and then a librarian, obsessed with the lost city with the stolen name, known only as Weep. Then, in part two, we meet the handful of blue-skinned godschildren surviving in the citadel above Weep, among them Sarai, whose power is to enter dreams. And things get stranger, but that way lie too many spoilers.

I did enjoy this story. It was refreshingly original, and very well written, its prose almost poetic, and quite elegant, the words chosen so very carefully. I doubt that it’s for everybody; some readers will hate it. Especially if they have a problem with moths.

(Oh, and one small peculiarity – the review copy I was sent, the Australasian edition, appears to be the US edition with US spelling and leading, but with the more attractive UK cover. Odd.)

Karou has fled after finding out what happened to Brimstone and her chimaera family.  Betrayed by Akiva, she takes refuge in the desert and joins the chimaera revenants as their resurrectionist.  She uses the portals to slip between the human world and Eretz, buying supplies for the revenants and gathering teeth for her work.  Watched closely by Thiago, the general of the chimaera revenants, her skin crawls whenever he’s near as he was the one to order Madrigal’s execution.  She’s viewed as a traitor by most of the soldiers, for loving an angel when she was Madrigal.

Akiva is reunited with Liraz and Hazeal, after choosing Karou over them in Daughter of Smoke and Bone.  They find they all want the senseless killing between the seraph and chimaera to stop and try to figure out a way to do it.  Meanwhile someone is slaughtering the seraph, and using their bodies to send a message.  In the subplot Zuzana finally figures out from Karou’s cryptic emails where she is, and with Mik sets off to find her.  They succeed and stay with the chimaera in order to help Karou with her work.

I really enjoyed this book, a lot more than the first which I found slow.  Now I can see it was a lot of world building and setting the scene. The plot was tightly woven and there was quite a bit of action going on, with the fighting between the beasts and the angels.  The political manuvering was well thought out, with lots of little twists I didn’t see coming.  Karou is a bit too meek and accepting of being treated like dirt by Thiago I thought.  I also felt sorry for Akiva and wished she’d give him a bit of forgiveness.

I recommend you read the first book before this one to get the full backstory, though you can dive right in.  The twist at the end was brilliant, though unexpected, and it seems so right for the story.  I’m eagerly awaiting the final book in this trilogy, especially after the last lines – Tomorrow they start the apocalypse.  Tonight, they let themselves look at each other, just for a little while.

Little, Brown, and Company

Supplied by Hachette

Reviewed by Jan

Karou is studying art at a high school in Prague, filling her sketchbooks with stories, depicted in drawings of fantastic creatures.  She has a puppeteer best friend, a stalker ex-boyfriend who’s insanely hot, and the admiration of her peers for her talent.  Karou also has naturally bright blue hair, a lot of tattoos, and a necklace of beads that give you one wish.  Raised by a family made of chimaeras, Karou used various portals to slip in and out of the human word as a child and now runs errands for them; collecting teeth in exchange for wishes.

Azril is an angel, one of the beautiful men and women who have left irremovable black handprints on doors around the world before vanishing on unseen wings.  The doors are portals to other worlds and the work of the devil.  The angels are trying to eradicate evil from the world.  Once every door is marked they are set alight and close all the portals.  Karou is cut off from her family, stranded and alone.  But Azril has seen her, and fascinated, tracks her down…..

The book started off slow for me, only getting interesting toward the middle.  The writing is fine, the plot unique and interesting, I just prefer more action and only found it halfway through.  This is a story that young adults will appreciate.  The first half built the background of Karou and set the scene, making you able to ‘see’ her.  The characters are well formed and her family give you a different perspective, being able to love though evil and doing horrible things.  The ‘good guys’ (angels) aren’t so innocent however and have rewritten history.

If you want to know what the teeth are used for, keep reading.  It’s a slow start but gets better.  Off to read the sequel Days of Blood and Starlight.

Little, Brown and Company

Reviewed by Jan