Emily May's Reviews > Strange the Dreamer

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
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it was amazing
bookshelves: fantasy, young-adult, arc, 2017

It was impossible, of course.
But when did that ever stop any dreamer from dreaming?

Oh hell, it was gorgeous perfection.

I've been away for a while because I'm on vacation, but I just had to step back in and review this completely strange, utterly beautiful book. I've been waiting so long for Laini Taylor to steal my heart once more, and Strange the Dreamer does not disappoint.

It's so tempting when reviewing Taylor's books to talk about the writing style and language. Because it's stunning. I don’t know where the line between purple and beautiful prose should be drawn, but I do know that Laini Taylor stands just on the right side of it. The very sentences themselves feel magical and dreamy, creating an atmosphere that convinces you you've been transported to another world.

There's a timeless fairy tale quality to her writing, too; it’s *almost* too much, *almost* too poetic, and yet somehow it is just perfect. I also particularly loved the running theme of dreamers and dreaming here:
It was why she dared no longer dream: because in her own sleep she was like any dreamer, at the mercy of her unconscious. When she fell asleep, she was no sorceress or dark enthralled, but just a sleeping girl with no control over the terrors within her.

Okay, where was I? See what I mean? You can get all caught up in the writing and lose your trail of thought. But my point was that while it's tempting to go on and on about Taylor's writing, it does a disservice to the fantastic storytelling underneath. Because, personally, you can wax poetic until you're blue in the face, but if I'm not interested in the characters and underlying story/conflicts, I'll be left feeling cold.

No need to worry about that here.

Strange the Dreamer opens with the orphaned Lazlo. Though a big dreamer, he is a junior librarian and, let's face it, probably never going to turn his dreams into anything more than just that. Ah, but no! Because this orphan is about to have his life turned upside down when his biggest, wildest dream comes closer than ever before.

You see, when Lazlo was young, the name of the lost, mythical city was stolen from everyone's minds. He knows he once knew the Unseen City's real name, but the word left in its place is Weep. No matter how he struggles to remember, all he hears is the same old "Weep". Obsessed with discovering what happened, he spends his adolescence researching the city, trying desperately to find anything about it, longing to one day visit the city himself.

And, of course, like all bold dreamers of fantasy, he will get a chance to go on a magical journey and maybe, just maybe, make his dreams come true. I won't give away any more than that. This is a fairly long book and many things happen, but it's best to discover them for yourself and on the author's terms.

Strange the Dreamer is so unique in its rich world-building, its wonderfully-conceived story of gods, goddesses, ghosts, magic, romance, secrets and guilt, but there is an old tale lurking beneath - that of the orphaned underdog who wanted to be so much more. And whether it is an unloved boy with a scar, stuck in a closet beneath the stairs, who gets to be a powerful wizard, or a nerdy photographer who gets bitten by a spider and learns to be a hero, this is a story that never ceases to appeal to me.

How nice it is to be reminded that magic and dreams can come true. With some darkness, nightmares and bloodshed along the way, of course.

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Reading Progress

January 5, 2016 – Shelved
March 8, 2017 – Started Reading
March 16, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-50 of 73 (73 new)


message 1: by Maria (new) - added it

Maria *chokes on tea* Oh my God, I can't wait to hear your thoughts on this one!


message 2: by Jeanny (new) - added it

Jeanny This review and this book is amazing! Laini Taylor is simply legendary.


message 3: by Julia (new) - added it

Julia yesssssss I'm so excited!


Taylor I'm so glad that you loved this! I adore Laini Taylor's stories; I can't wait to get my hands on this!


Alyssa Campbell what a beautiful review


Dark Lordette Jennymort ♔ I can't wait to get my hands on this one! Been waiting soooo long!


Rose Tezanos Excellent review! thank you!


Kristin (KC) - Traveling Sister Very nice review, Emily! I haven't read any of this author's work yet, and (although I'm sure I can't go wrong with any) I'm planning to start with this one. Glad to see you loved :-)


Lenna • Sugar Dusted Pages I'm so glad you liked it!! I just preordered and have been crossing my fingers since we have similar tastes! Wonderful review!


message 10: by Maria (new) - added it

Maria Oh my god, if it's possible, I'm even more excited to dive into this book now!


message 11: by Sven (new) - added it

Sven Loved your review and now I am definitely going to read it!


Haniya (Voracious Bookling) GOD I WANNA READ IT SO BAD NOWWWW


Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin Excellent review! I'm so glad you loved it =)


Julia You made me want to read it asap!


Valerie I love DOSaB series, so I cannot wait for another one of her stories!


message 16: by Leah (new) - added it

Leah Ahhh!! So glad you loved this. I just preordered it last night!!


message 17: by Beth (new) - rated it 3 stars

Beth ~~Just One More Chapter I Swear~~ Awesome review!!


message 18: by Laura (new) - added it

Laura Hooray. You are not only back but give us a five star to boot.


message 19: by Kellie (new) - added it

Kellie Great review! I've already pre-ordered this but you just made the wait even harder.


Sofia Piroeva Can't wait to read it!!!


message 21: by Elke (new) - rated it 4 stars

Elke So excited about this!


Débora Carolina (Perdida na Leitura) Just dying to read this book!!!


jewlzngozi I can't wait!!!


message 24: by Lois (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lois I'm so excited to read this! The Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy was absolutely gorgeous (both the story and writing, as you said), so I can't wait to see what else Laini Taylor has in store for us *heart-eyes*


message 25: by Shee (new) - rated it 3 stars

Shee Ah what a fantastic review- was looking forward to hearing your thoughts!!! I CANNOT wait to finally devour this book <3 I also realllly need to read DOSAM


message 26: by Tânia (new) - added it

Tânia I can't wait to read "Strange The Dreamer", but I still have to read The Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy (I've only read the first book yet).

Happy readings! ;)


message 27: by Lisa (new) - added it

Lisa I'm so excited for this book!!


message 28: by Rachel (new) - added it

Rachel SO EXCITED FOR THIS!!!!


Anna-Emilia It almost feels like a lifetime as we waited for this book and now it's almost here and I. can't. wait. !!!!!!!!


message 30: by nadia (new) - added it

nadia I was one of the minority who was not in love with Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone though the writing was gorgeous. Do you think that after not liking DoSaB I would not be a fan of Strange The Dreamer, or do you think it's still worth giving it a shot? Great review by the way!


message 31: by Evyt (new) - added it

Evyt That's a beautiful review


Jessica Emily I must be honest, I love your reviews. They always give me the perfect idea of what to expect from a book, without giving away any spoilers. I officially cannot wait to get my hands on this book now. I am a huge fan of DoSaB, and I am so glad you thought this book was just as good. Thanks for the review Emily, I can't wait to see what recommendations you have next!


Carly Stephenson I am BEYOND excited to read this book!


Nathalia I just can't wait to read this book. I've been also waiting for Laini Taylor to steal my heart once more <3 I'm happy to know she will most certainly do it soon <3


message 35: by Jordyn (new)

Jordyn I'm still on the fence about this because I wasn't a fan of daughter of smoke and bone, but seeing you liked it has me intrigued.


Ashwillread Great review!!! I've just started, and I'm loving it so far!!!!


message 37: by Mike (new) - added it

Mike Just picked this up the other day and was worried it might not live up to all the expectation I had for it. Your 5 stars shine brilliantly and assure me that I will enjoy this one. I will come back and read your review when I have finished the book. I look forward to both ventures.


Emily May Mike wrote: "Just picked this up the other day and was worried it might not live up to all the expectation I had for it. Your 5 stars shine brilliantly and assure me that I will enjoy this one. I will come back..."

Hope you love it too, Mike! :)


message 39: by Wen (new) - added it

Wen It's been in my radar since last year.
But ngl I was worried this will be similar Shatter Me (which I hate with burning passion for its overly used metaphors and similes), mainly because I keep hearing how beautiful the writing was. But after reading your review I will definitely give it a try after all.


Emily May Wen wrote: "It's been in my radar since last year.
But ngl I was worried this will be similar Shatter Me (which I hate with burning passion for its overly used metaphors and similes), mainly because I keep he..."


I hated Shatter Me for the same reason you did. It's really hard to decide whether a book's writing is beautiful or overdone, but Laini Taylor gets it just right for me. I hope you like it too :)


Keerthana Oh god! This is my first Laini Taylor's book and beating myself thinking 'why haven't I read her other book?'
Gods! as you said the writing brilliant and done so right. And the story is so brilliant. I love underdog stories and fantasy story. Combining both is such a dream come true. I loved it sooo much. Also every dreamer and bookworm can relate to Lazlo which made this book so special <3


Alison Morquecho Yes!!!! Just finished!!! Amazing!!


message 43: by Shai (new) - rated it 5 stars

Shai YES! This was absolute perfection! From prose, to character development, world building, to plot. I also loved lazlo strange. He stole my heart. <3


Sarika you can wax poetic until you're blue in the face--eheh literally


Sarika Sarika also, though, to emily and all the people who think there's a clear line between prose and purple, i have to respectfully disagree ahah--i mean i think there were a few parts in Strange where the metaphors seemed a tad bid forced, and conversely few bits in shatter me where the language was genuinely (albeit rarely) beautiful--just think it's not as all or nothing as you guys might believe ahah (less)


Emily May Sarika wrote: "Sarika also, though, to emily and all the people who think there's a clear line between prose and purple, i have to respectfully disagree ahah--i mean i think there were a few parts in Strange wher..."

Oh, I absolutely don't think the line between pretty and purplish is clear - that was my point, though sorry if it didn't come across. It's impossible to draw a line where one stops and the other begins (it's subjective, after all) but I was just saying I think Taylor gets it exactly right.


Nichelle It was beautiful and melodic. It was poetic and perfection. I loved it. Her character building is always spot on, and the world building... *insert heart eyed emoji here*

Laini Taylor is the queen of purple prose smudging to me (lol) and here again it was spot on. Thanks again for another amazingly accurate review Emily!


message 48: by Gea (new) - rated it 5 stars

Gea Beautiful review! I just finished this tonight and loved it! You really captured it well.


Natasha I completely agree. This was a book where the stylistic prose was appropriate and lended itself to the "dreamy fairy tale" quality


Chrissie Excellent review! I loved her previous series so much; her writing is superb. I'm just so relieved to see all the 4- and 5-star reviews for this book!


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