Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy is the series that got me hooked on YA. So many people had talked about it that I finally picked it up, and was completely blown away (I mean I had obviously read The Hunger Games but this was definitely part of my shift from the occasional YA to heavy rotation of YA). And yet, I have never reread them because what if I don’t like them as much? I was very excited when I realized she had a new novel coming out, though I didn’t realize till close to the end that Strange the Dreamer was not going to be a stand alone.
While I enjoyed Strange the Dreamer and the world Taylor created, it didn’t capture me in the same way that Daughter of Smoke and Bone did. As a result, even though I pre-ordered Muse of Nightmares, I was hesitant to read it, and prioritized other novels. Well, I finally started it and this one blew me away, especially after a certain revelation about halfway through that has me so excited for future Taylor output!
Strange the Dreamer ended on a cliff hanger – after Lazlo discovered his powers, it seemed like he would be able to help lead to peace between the remaining “gods” and the population, only to discover that Minya had the upper hand – she was Sarai’s last tether to this world, and the only thing holding her spirit.
The novel also introduces two sisters – though one is not an entirely new character, and was one of the murdered gods with mysterious powers. In this sequel, we learn her backstory, where the gods came from, and so much more. While Strange the Dreamer already wove an intriguing world, Taylor’s answers add even more complexity. Sometimes, finding out the backstory leads to disappointment because it can never match the theories the reader was creating in their mind. In this case, my reactions were definitely along the lines, of “holy shit, I didn’t even think of that.” The answers are simple and yet so well-crafted and fit perfectly.
The novel is just an amazing mix of background and scientific exploration while never losing the focus on humanity, and concepts such as culpability, forgiveness and redemption. For so long, the city of this story has been trapped through oppression, only to then be driven by revenge, guilt and sorrow that it’s been hard for them to see how others have been victims of the same story. The same description of course applies to Minya who has turned off her humanity to be the strong protector of her family.
While this novel concludes the main conflict introduced, she leaves the door open for potential sequels or cross overs, and I am very much looking forward to where she might go from here.