Helena of Eretz ✰'s Reviews > Strange the Dreamer

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
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it was amazing
bookshelves: favourites, high-fantasy, best-of-2017, hardback, buddy-reads, new-adult
Read 2 times. Last read March 8, 2019 to March 16, 2019.

Re-read with Lynn and Alison ... I shall turn you into Laini Taylor-addicts like me in no time! MUAHAHAHA! ;)

A new Laini Taylor book, you say? Don’t mind if I do…

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Perhaps you’d like some footage of me, when I accidentally found an autographed copy of my favourite author’s new book:

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Let’s just start off by taking a moment to appreciate the fact that Strange the Dreamer was selected as a Michael L. Printz honour book (the silver sticker on the cover). All I can say is that it is extremely well-deserved because this book is a MASTERPIECE. Laini stayed true to the lovely and lush writing style that I fell in love with all those years ago.

WOW. MY GOD. I didn’t think it was possible, but this might have just chucked Daughter of Smoke & Bone to the side as my favourite series of all time. In Queen Laini’s usual style of brilliance, I was glued to my seat while reading this and would’ve finished it A LOT sooner if uni didn’t exist.

What did I love about it, you ask?

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“‘You’re a storyteller. Dream up something wild and improbable,’ she pleaded. ‘Something beautiful and full of monsters.’
‘Beautiful and full of monsters?’
‘All the best stories are.’”


This is a faery tale. This is tale of mythology. This is a love story. This is story of gods and heroes. This is beautiful and full of monsters (wink, wink). This is a book of…everything.

I don’t want to accidentally spoil anyone, and nor do I know how to discuss this without spoilers, so I’m going to provide a general…

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THIS IS YOUR LAST WARNING!!!

Fine. It’s your funeral. :P

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“He read while he walked. He read while he ate. The other librarians suspected he somehow read while he slept, or perhaps didn't sleep at all.”

Our story begins with the little cinnamon roll that is Lazlo Strange. He’s a precious little war-orphan who’s actually 20 years of age, but is so bloody cute. He is definitely more mature and sophisticated than a typical YA protagonist, and nor does he make ridiculously stupid decisions, which was refreshing. He is a Junior Librarian, aka the male version of MOI. By that, I mean he LOVES books, walks into walls while reading, and had his nose broken by the “villain” book of faery tales that fell down on his face on his FIRST DAY. He’s just too sweet and adorable for words. He helps people for no reason other than the fact that they are in need of help, never asking for the favour to be returned or payment for his services.

“Without his books, his room felt like a body with its hearts cut out.”

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

Lazlo was raised by uncompromising monks, but only the senile one would tell him stories. Most of those stories were about a city, far beyond the desert, now lost to the world, including Zosma, which is where they currently are. But one day, the name of the city was erased from everyone’s memories and replaced with the word, “Weep.”

Ultimately, we learn that Weep was cut off from the world because of the arrival of six blue-skinned gods. Skathis was the god of beasts and lord of the mesarthium (an impenetrable metal). Isagol was the goddess of despair. Vanth was the god of storms. Korako was the goddess of secrets. Ikirok was the god of revelry. Letha was the goddess of oblivion. For two hundred years, the gods inhabited the floating Citadel in the sky, made of mesarthium. Over and over again, the gods would abduct the young men and women of Weep in order to breed thousands of godspawn, each with magical gifts of their own. After a few years, the men and women were returned to the city below, with no memories of what occurred to them in the Citadel. The godspawn, on the other hand, were never seen again, after their magical gifts manifested in the nursery. Thousands of children went POOF.

“You think good people can't hate?" she asked. "You think good people don't kill? ... Good people do all the things bad people do, Lazlo. It's just that when they do them, they call it justice.”

Eril-Fane, the Godslayer, married the love of his life, Azareen, five days before he was abducted by the gods. For three years, he was forced to serve as Isagol’s consort, where he inherently hated her and was compelled to love her simultaneously. Their time together ultimately resulted in the birth of Sarai. When Azareen was abducted and raped, Eril-Fane’s love for his wife overpowered the compulsion that Isagol had over him. He then slaughtered the six gods and the thirty godspawn in the nursery. The abducted humans, including Eril-Fane and Azareen, left the Citadel with their memories intact, having killed Letha before she could erase them. However, she spitefully had her revenge by erasing the memory of the city’s name from the world, replacing it with “Weep.”

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“And that's how you go on. You lay laughter over the dark parts. The more dark parts, the more you have to laugh. With defiance, with abandon, with hysteria, any way you can.”

The eldest of the godspawn in the nursery was a six-year old, Minya, who escaped what is referred to as Eril-Fane’s “Carnage.” Her magical gift is being able to capture and control ghosts. She caught enough of them to create an army of the undead in the Citadel, but used a few of them to help raise the babies. Somehow, Minya never aged after all this time, retaining the appearance of a six-year old. During the Carnage, she managed to carry four babies with her into hiding. They were:

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Sarai, the “Muse of Nightmares,” screamed and channelled her consciousness into a hundred moths. These moths could then lay upon the brows of dreamers, allowing her see and control their dreams, even turning them into nightmares. She’s the only one who could see what went on in the city below them.

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Feral, the “Cloud Thief,” stole clouds from faraway. He could call rain clouds, snow, hail, and even lightning to the Citadel. He was their sole source of water, which kept them alive.

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Sparrow, the “Orchid Witch,” made plants grow or wilt. Her ability to make the Kimril plant flourish was fundamental to their survival, as well, because Kimril was a flavourless vegetable with enough nutrients to keep them alive.

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Ruby, the “Bonfire,” could combust into flames, creating warmth in the Citadel.

We then learn that Eril-Fane wants to remove the Citadel from Weep’s sky, thus threatening the secret lives that the godspawn have led until now. He led a convoy to foreign nations, including Zosma, in search of the keenest intelligence and the extraordinarily skilled to address Weep’s problem. In exchange for their help, he promises unimaginable treasure to the one who solves it. The convoy eventually includes:

Ebliz Todd, the builder, most notable for building the Cloudspire, the tallest structure in the world.

Calixte Dagaz, the acrobat, who climbed the 600-foot Cloudspire with only her hands and bare feet because she wanted to raid the tomb inside.

Thyon Nero, the alchemist and Prince of Zosma, who distilled azoth, the medium for making gold.

Jonwit Belabra, the mathematician.

Phathmus Mouzaive, the natural philosopher, who focused in magnetic fields.

Kae Ilfurth, the engineer.

The Fellerings, the metallurgists, who were a set of twins.

Fortune Kether, the artist, most renowned for his frescoes in public and his catapults and siege machines in private.

Drave, the explosionist, known for setting charges in mines and blowing the sides off of mountains.

Soulzeren Eoh, the farmer-botanist, and Ozwin Eoh, the mechanist. Together, they invented a silk sleigh, a craft that could fly.

“He wasn't an alchemist, or a hero. He was a librarian, and a dreamer. He was a reader, and the unsung expert on a long-lost city no one cared a thing about.”

And finally, Eril-Fane agrees to bring Lazlo along, as well. He basically volunteers to be Eril-Fane’s secretary and to be the errand-boy for the convoy, just for the opportunity to go to Weep. Lazlo’s studies of Weep (even uncovering the alphabet and recreating the language) were his life’s work and he wanted to finally see it for himself. The monks, librarians, and scholars all forgot and dismissed Weep as a fictional place, but Lazlo never did. He unconditionally always loved it and believed in it.

Once we reach this point in the novel, it goes full-speed ahead, all the way until the end. Get ready for the ride of your lives!!! I didn’t guess a SINGLE PLOT POINT in this entire novel (except for Lazlo turning out to be one of the godspawn).

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“I think you’re a fairy tale. I think you’re magical, and brave, and exquisite. And I hope you'll let me be in your story.”

I’m not even going to lie…my favourite part of the book was Dream Weep. What a pure and magical place that I’m SO MAD that I’ll never get to see it IN REAL LIFE with my own two eyes! UGH! And it just sounds like my ideal world, too. I mean, there’s a centaur and his lady on a date. HOW COOL IS THAT?!!! He bought dragon wings for himself and fox wings for Sarai at the wingsmith shop with dream money! Speaking of him and Sarai…AGH! Lazlo is so sweet and romantic and pure! Can I have a man who woos me like Lazlo? For crying out loud, he bought Sarai a bracelet with every phase of the moon for her because the moon was stolen from her! How utterly cute!!! He even planned out a lakeside (or was it seaside?) tea party, where he had the teapot pour for itself because he feared that he’d spill it from nerves. Oh. My. Gosh. I just can’t with his sweetness. He also imagined dream cakes for the tea party!!! And when he found out about Sarai’s nightmares…what was his response? “Turn [nightmares] into fireflies and catch them in jars.” SOMEONE PROTECT SARAI AND LAZLO AT ALL COSTS! They deserve cakes and hugs and kisses and all the happiness in the world! What sweet and pure protagonists. <3

And yes, as Laini Taylor tends to do, there is a bit of instalove in this. BUT IT WORKS. By the time it occurs, we've spent so much time with Sarai and Lazlo individually that we've fallen in love with them already. In Lazlo's dreams, they've spent so many scenes together in both silliness and seriousness, happiness and sadness that I didn't mind watching them fall in love with each other in a short amount of time.

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And, although Laini Taylor did tell us what was going to occur from the beginning…

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“The mahalath had come and remade them both. He was a god, and she was a ghost. A page had turned. A new story was beginning. You had only to look at Lazlo to know it would be brilliant. And Sarai could not be in it.”

SHE STILL BROKE MY HEART!!! WHY, LAINI?!!! WHYYY?!!! Why did Sarai have to be the one who fell from the Citadel???

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I can’t handle all of these emotions and need to mend my broken heart ASAP. So, in conclusion, I have only one thing left to say, and that is…

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Reading Progress

August 7, 2016 – Shelved
August 7, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
August 18, 2017 – Shelved as: favourites
February 2, 2018 – Shelved as: high-fantasy
April 20, 2018 – Shelved as: best-of-2017
June 13, 2018 – Shelved as: hardback
July 17, 2018 – Shelved as: buddy-reads
November 5, 2018 – Started Reading
November 7, 2018 –
page 80
14.93% "It’s only Chapter 11 and I already hate Thyon Nero SO MUCH! How dare he take advantage of my precious Lazlo Strange!!! 😡😡😡"
November 8, 2018 –
page 107
19.96% "“Welcome to purgatory. Care for some soup?” 😂😂😂"
November 11, 2018 –
page 185
34.51% "I’m LOVING this, but I’m only on Chapter 23 (Part 3) because life keeps getting in the way. WHY???! *cries* 😭😭😭"
November 13, 2018 –
page 333
62.13% "“They were all I could carry...”

Is it bad that I’m rather sympathetic towards Minya??? 🤷🏻‍♀️"
November 13, 2018 –
page 400
74.63% "From beginning to end, I haven't been able to guess what was going to happen AT ALL...which I LOVE. :D"
November 13, 2018 – Finished Reading
March 5, 2019 –
page 13
2.43% "Because you can never re-read this enough times! ;)

BR with Alison and Lynn..."
March 8, 2019 – Started Reading
March 10, 2019 –
page 75
13.99% "I HATE Thyon...SO MUCH...ugh, too bad Lazlo is too much of a cinnamon roll to punch him in the face, like he deserves."
March 10, 2019 –
page 100
18.66% "Ahhhh...I’m reading this book for the second time and it’s just as wonderful as the first. 😍 I just want to crawl inside this book and live there!"
March 11, 2019 –
page 110
20.52% "“He’s just an orphan peasant from Zosma, you know.”

Can Thyon just bugger off somewhere else???"
March 11, 2019 –
page 115
21.46% "“Haunt. Lazlo alone had considered that he might mean it literally. Suppose there were ghosts. Godslayer. The ghosts of dead gods? He wouldn’t be putting that into Calixte’s book.” OH MY GOD, LAZLO. YOU HAD IT!!!"
March 13, 2019 –
page 253
47.2% "“They were all I could carry...” 😢"
March 14, 2019 –
page 300
55.97% "“Have you noticed [mesarthium] being reactive to skin?”

...And now it begins...😏"
March 15, 2019 –
page 375
69.96% "“They were so nearly unchanged, and yet that one thing — the colour of their skin — would, in the real world, change everything.”"
March 16, 2019 –
page 445
83.02% "NO, DRAVE! I HATE YOU MORE THAN THYON!"
March 16, 2019 –
page 475
88.62% "“So I ask you again, Lazlo Strange... who are you?

DUN DUN DUNNNNN... 😱"
March 16, 2019 –
page 500
93.28% "“You have to wake up now, my love.” 😭😭😭"
March 16, 2019 –
page 515
96.08% "NOOOO...!!! 😭😭😭"
March 16, 2019 – Finished Reading
September 8, 2019 – Shelved as: new-adult

Comments Showing 1-50 of 69 (69 new)


Karishma I am joining you!


Helena of Eretz ✰ @Karishma Yay! We have a thread in the group, btw! ;)


Lena K. My thoughts exactly! I, too just finished reading it and was amazed by Laini's writing (you can read it in my review). Also - Lazlo <3


Helena of Eretz ✰ @Lena Laini’s writing is absolutely brilliant. She’s a gem among the many authors in YA fantasy. 💖 And I shall read your review! 😍


Lena K. She totally is! I went straight to the second book, and probably will check the rest of her books after that :)


Helena of Eretz ✰ @Lena Well, before reading this, her Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy was my favourite series! I highly, highly recommend it!!! 😍


message 7: by Maggie (new) - added it

Maggie ☘ (Wonderland-Reader) Ohhh! But you LOVE DOSAB trilogy? Did you love this one even more? P.S. Sorry I wasn't able to join the BR, I've barely had a chance to read this week at all and this one is a beast of a book!:D


Helena of Eretz ✰ @Maggie I LOVE THEM BOTH and now I’m conflicted over which I love MORE!!! 😱 I might love this a teeny weeny bit more simply because I felt so connected to Lazlo. He’s literally the male version of me. This was also sooooo beautifully written, in classic Laini-style. 😉

And that’s ok! Maybe you can join in for another one in a future! Or there’ll be a faery tale retelling that we both NEED to read! 😬


message 9: by Maggie (new) - added it

Maggie ☘ (Wonderland-Reader) Helena wrote: "@Maggie I LOVE THEM BOTH and now I’m conflicted over which I love MORE!!! 😱 I might love this a teeny weeny bit more simply because I felt so connected to Lazlo. He’s literally the male version of ..."

Hope the sequel lives up to it too for you!
We can always BR Bird and the Sword 2 whenever. Or maybe I'll be able to join the group for Vicious, if there will be a group read for the first one.


✨ Ida ✨ muse of nightmares is fantastic, enjoy!! (:


Helena of Eretz ✰ @Maggie YAS to both. 😉 Vicious was pushed back to next week and then Vengeful the week after. And I’ve been itching to read Bird and the Sword 2 ASAP! 😬


Helena of Eretz ✰ @Ida Ah, thank you!!! I can’t wait to get into it! 😍


Helena of Eretz ✰ @Bobby Yes, it was! :)


Brittany ahhhh I knew you would love it soooo much!!! YAY


Helena of Eretz ✰ @Brittany Ahhhh! Yes, you did!!! I can’t wait to get further into Muse of Nightmares!!! <3


Brittany Helena wrote: "@Brittany Ahhhh! Yes, you did!!! I can’t wait to get further into Muse of Nightmares!!! <3"

iIl be looking forward to your updates and reviews :) ENJOY!


Helena of Eretz ✰ @Brittany Thank you!!! I shall!!! ;)


♡ Dakota ♡ (Sarcasm is my middle name) Will I ever read this after seeing Helena’s review. 🤔Hmmm... we will see.


Helena of Eretz ✰ ♡ Dakota ♡ wrote: "Will I ever read this after seeing Helena’s review. 🤔Hmmm... we will see."

BUT YOU GOTTA! :O


♡ Dakota ♡ (Sarcasm is my middle name) I will soon-ish ;)


message 21: by Helena (last edited Nov 15, 2018 07:20PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Helena of Eretz ✰ ♡ Dakota ♡ wrote: "I will soon-ish ;)"

Yippee!!! <3


message 22: by Mary (new) - added it

Mary S. R. Haha, glad you loved it! I really NEED to pick this up—but man is my tbr impossible


Helena of Eretz ✰ @Mary Noooooo Laini Taylor should be put at the top of ALL TBRs!!! ;)


message 24: by Mary (new) - added it

Mary S. R. Helena wrote: "@Mary Noooooo Laini Taylor should be put at the top of ALL TBRs!!! ;)"

Haha okay I'll read it this year—summer probably :))


Helena of Eretz ✰ @Mary Yessssssssss...! <3


kazually ♡ happy reading helena !! <3 hope you enjoy this book for the third time heh


Helena of Eretz ✰ @kazually Haha thank you!!!! <3 I hope you’re enjoying your current read, as well!


kazually ♡ do you like strange the dreamer or muse of nightmares best?


Helena of Eretz ✰ @kazually DEFINITELY Muse of Nightmares!!! Right now, I consider it my favourite book...OF ALL TIME!!! 😍


kazually ♡ @helena yay we have another same opinion!!! hahah i loveee muse of nightmares. i thought strange the dreamer was okay and the muse of nightmares was like wOW <3<3<3


Helena of Eretz ✰ @kazually WHOO HOO! Finally, am I right? ;) Laini really took the finale to a whole ‘nother level! :O


kazually ♡ @helena she definitely did!! and the way everything just tied together, omg love it


Helena of Eretz ✰ @kazually AND HOW IT TIED INTO DOSAB?!!! It left me shooketh!


kazually ♡ @helena oh i haven't actually read DOSAB yet XD before i even knew strange the dreamer existed, i read like the first chapter and decided to not finish it. i will definitely try it again!!! sometime...


Helena of Eretz ✰ @kazually Well, I hope you enjoy it more when you give it another go! :)


kazually ♡ @helena i hope so too heheh thank you <3


Helena of Eretz ✰ @kazually You’re welcome! If you like Laini’s prose, by the way...you might want to try Nevernight by Jay Kristoff!!! :)


kazually ♡ @helena am i sensing another similar opinion?? i loVED nevernight (except the beginning was slow and boring af lol)


Helena of Eretz ✰ @kazually OMG WHAT IS THIS SORCERY?!! 2 for 2?!!! Gasp! Who even knew that was possible?!! ;)


kazually ♡ @helena WHO KNEW? all this time we both loved two of the same books :o unbelievable i'm utterly speechless with shock


Helena of Eretz ✰ @kazually Let’s see...hmmm...what other favourites do you have? We might have more secret similar tastes that we NEVER knew about!!! :O


kazually ♡ this is amazing XD i feel like a bunch of my favorites are in the teens sections not the ya but they're still really good!! you just probably haven't heard them, they're all underrated *sigh* i really like wolf brother series


kazually ♡ i just checked my favorites shelf because my mind was completely blank for some reason lol. i have a bunch of standalones (which is weird, i always thought that i usually read series hm) and i don't really think you've read most of them XD


kazually ♡ my best bets are: a darker shade of magic series, harry potter series, and the wrath and the dawn series


Helena of Eretz ✰ @kazually OMG I LOVE HARRY POTTER AND ADSOM!!! I haven’t gotten to Wrath and the Dawn yet lol. And you love SOC too right? I assumed you did, considering your username haha.


kazually ♡ @helena YAYAY i love those books sm too! well six of crows is onLY my fav book eVER. and throne of glass series and muse of nightmares are close behind


Helena of Eretz ✰ @kazually TBH, I can’t really stand Throne of Glass. I do love Falling Kingdoms though, which is somewhat similar. ADSOM is brilliant! Love it so much. I love SOC, but CK not as much because of the ending. My favourite books ever though are the STD duology and the DOSAB trilogy. I also love the Folk of the Air trilogy by Holly Black, the Curse Workers trilogy by Holly Black, and Nevernight by Jay Kristoff. :)


kazually ♡ @helena ooh i dnfed the first book but that was a loong time ago. i think if i try it again i might like it. why did you not like the ending of ck?? i mean i agree that i hate cliffhangers but that ending also did make me feel really satisfied and i knew that everything was fine for everyone lol. wow lol back to different opinions, i absolutely hate the curse workers and the folk of the air trilogy (i think you commented on my dnf of the wicked king a few days ago)


Helena of Eretz ✰ @kazually OMG really?? You might like it if you gave it another go. ;) I didn’t like CK because my ship was obliterated into a million tiny pieces and IT HURTS OK?! Everything wasn’t fine for everyone! We’re down a crow!!! I KNEW I COMMENTED on one of your reviews recently, but I couldn’t remember which one!!! xD Also, ouchie, that kinda hurt, not gonna lie. I guess Holly Black isn’t for you lol. It’s kinda weird though because most people who enjoy SOC love the Curse Workers...with the whole magic + criminals, you know? :)


kazually ♡ @helena IKR (view spoiler) LOL it was the wicked king yup. yeah she really isn't lol. i dunno, i just really didn't like the writing style and the plot and the characters so yeah. i can't really explain why i didn't like all that, i just didn't like it lmao oops. yess i realized like yesterday that i really like "impossible heist" books. currently reading the Gilded Wolves and it is SO MUCH LIKE SOC. I LOVE IT AHHH.


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