Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor
Published: 2 October 2018 by Hodder & Stoughton
Series: Strange the Dreamer
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Synopsis from Goodreads: 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?
Review: Muse of Nightmares was not only my first read of 2019, but my first read in a very long time full stop. 2018 was a pretty dire year for me reading-wise – I barely even finished my already modest Goodreads Challenge. Anyway, I got some inspiration from my younger sister who decided she wanted to follow in the bookish footsteps and start her own blog (as well as an app – but more about that another time…!)
Strange the Dreamer was one of my FairyLoot books from last 2017 – and it was a gorgeous one both physically and story-wise. The FairyLoot version was all sprayed edges and gold filigree *heart eyes*. Strange sucked me right in (review here!), and I have to admit, it being a duology sold me – who really has time for trilogies these days? 😉
Muse of Nightmares picks up right where Strange ended and it weaves a powerful story. Any critic who believes there isn’t stories of depth to be found in YA really needs to immerse themselves in a Taylor book stat. One of my absolute favourite things about this series and Taylor’s writing is just how exquisite her command of the English language is. Laini Taylor is an author of authors – in that reading her books makes you a better reader and writer. I find myself looking up lots of words because of the diverse vocab she exposes us to. She also uses the most creative similes and metaphors which makes you feel like you’re learning English anew:
His smiles had been pickled things, as though they’d been preserved in vinegar on some earlier occasion, to be pulled out to act as garnish to his artfully plated expressions.
The character development in Muse was wonderful to follow. The whole cast of this series is so distinct, memorable and relatable. I felt like each character go enough page time and space to grow. Minya deserves a special mention – it’s not easy for authors to create so incredibly multi-faceted antagonists but I was impressed at how her story unfolded. I was obviously cheering on Lazlo and Sarai but the whole host of secondary characters had me enthralled with their actions, thoughts and desires. It was great to see the interactions between human and gods (one in particular I didn’t realise I needed until it was happening), as well as the blurring of lines in general.
Their shames were different, but their fear was the same: of seeing rejection in the other’s eyes. Instead, they saw hope, a mirror of their own.
One area where this was very clear was how sometimes opposites and differences can seem to set us apart but really its like two sides of the same coin. Taylor explored this really well through Erin-Fane and Minya’s fates as well as Azareen and Suheyla’s experiences at the hands of the Mesarthim gods. Taylor also considers how at the end of it all, the powers that set these characters apart are nought compared to the emotions they share. These emotions, shared by humans and gods alike, are the most destructive force and all-enduring, not the powers. I loved the way the powers were written not as technical ‘things’ to wield but as a product of an individual’s past, their feelings, and their relationships with others.
But Sarai understood. A person could be driven mad by hate. It was a force as destructive as any Mesarthim gift, and harder to end than a god.
If it’s not obvious, I devoured this book in just under 12 hours. It was a fitting end to the duology but also set up nicely for further exploration of Taylor’s universe which I, for one, am not averse to. There’s something satisfying about a series that knows less is more but at the same time doesn’t rule out more of-shoots. Because frankly, it’s the characters and worlds that I adore and I’m happy to return under a different guise, but stories – well they need endings 🙂
Have you read any Muse of Nightmares? Duologies – yay or nay? Drop me a comment below 🙂