Friday 28 June 2019

#CBR11 Book 32: "Muse of Nightmares" by Laini Taylor

Page count: 514 pages
Audio book length: 15 hrs 54 mins
Rating: 5 stars

Spoiler warning! While I'm going to try very hard not to spoil THIS book in my review, this is the second book in a duology, and it will be impossible for me to write about the book without spoiling events and plot for book 1, Strange the Dreamer. Both books are absolutely wonderful, so you should absolutely check them out, if you haven't already.

But seriously, there will be plot spoilers for book one in the coming paragraphs, so go away if you're not caught up:

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?

Love and hate, revenge and redemption, destruction and salvation all clash in this gorgeous sequel to the New York Times bestseller, Strange the Dreamer.

Strange the Dreamer was one of my favourite books of 2017, and the mind of Laini Taylor is like no other when it comes to conjuring up fantastical and unbelievable new worlds and ideas. The first book ended on a hell of a cliffhanger, and after we'd come to root for the tender romance between Lazlo and Sarai, it seemed their happy ending would be ruined forever, just as Lazlo also discovered that everything he had believed about himself was a lie.

I genuinely had no idea where the story was going to go in this book, and really don't want to go into details, as the experience of having the story gradually revealed to you is so much better. While I read the first book on my e-reader, I chose to get the audio version of Muse of Nightmares once I discovered that it's narrated by Steve West, whose voice work I really enjoy. He's also excellent with various accents, which helps a lot.

We discover that a lot of the established truths revealed in the first book are in fact something completely different. In what some might consider a mild spoiler, I can say that what seemed like a straight fantasy story in the first book, is revealed to have distinct science fiction elements in this second part. I'll say no more than that.

While there is a lot of darkness, pain and sadness in this second part, there is also hope, friendship, love, the chance at forgiveness and chances of a better future, at least for the characters who make it until the end of the narrative.

I don't know what Laini Taylor is working on next, but based on these two books, I'll be pre-ordering her next book as soon as there's a release date.

Judging a book by its cover: In much the same design style as the previous cover, this has a primary colour and a beautiful image (which is significant for the contents of the story) traced over it. The red is almost angry, and could play into the various feelings of anger, fear, grief and rage that different characters feel over the course of the story. I liked the previous, peaceful blue cover better, but they make a nice matched set.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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