What are you doing to me? I want to cry, right now, writing this review, thinking about Strange the Dreamer. It’s too much. It’s too beautiful, too peculiar, too visceral, too magical. What is in your imagination? How do you do this?
Fantasy is such a stalwart genre for me because of how it truly takes me out of the every day and into a new place, sometimes a completely different place. Good fantasy has that quality of evoking wonder and provoking the wishful thinking that you can actually go there and experience.
Laini Taylor’s fantasy is so fully realized that she almost makes me believe it’s real. If she solemnly swore that she had actually seen the things that she wrote about, I’d go, “Well, that explains it.” Maybe she really does exist on a higher plane. Maybe she is Daughter of Smoke and Bone‘s Karou, who lives a seemingly normal life but has a hidden second life among monsters and angels. Maybe she is Lazlo Strange, whose dreams of an enchanted, forgotten city are so real that it does have to factually exist somewhere.
I mean, why not?
Or, maybe, her imagination is just that boundless, and her writing is just that alluring. Maybe, in its own way, that’s even more amazing, that someone could be such a gifted storyteller and isn’t actually just lifting material from another world.
I haven’t actually said anything about this book, have I? Well, here’s one thing — the only thing — that needs to be said: Read it. Read it, and, don’t compare it to Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Or do. There are a lot of similarities, in the style, themes, tone, romanticism, and celestial scope. But it’s so good in its own right that there really isn’t any need to draw on the nostalgia of its predecessor. Just read it.