About the Book

Title: Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1)
Published: 2017
Series: Strange the Dreamer
Swoonworthy Scale: 7

Cover Story: Sparklemoth Split
BFF Charm: Yay x2
Talky Talk: Dreams of Libraries and Godspawn
Bonus Factors: Librarians, Tasty Business
Relationship Status: Missing My Other Half

Cover Story: Sparklemoth Split

Although I’m not crazy about the font, this is such a pretty cover in person—it’s very shiny and metallic. It’s not quite as gorgeous as the UK covers, but the simplicity and color choice are a good way to go with such a complicated story.

The Deal:

Lazlo Strange is a librarian and a dreamer obsessed with the lost city of Weep—or at least, that’s what it’s called now. No one can remember its true name; did it ever even exist? Lazlo is content to lose himself in stories, wandering among the stacks and ignoring real life outside for the beautiful worlds he reads about in dusty, underused books.

One day, Tizerkane warriors show up in Zosma, on their way to find Weep. Lazlo would never dream of being allowed to go with them, until he demonstrates his scholarly knowledge and impresses the leader. Suddenly, he’s on a quest halfway around the world to find the lost city of Weep. If only he had asked a few questions about why the Tizerkane want to find Weep so badly…

In a citadel high above Weep, five godspawn have survived a massacre. Virtually banished to the sky citadel, lest they be killed in the city below, the offspring of gods and humans are surrounded by ghosts, barely surviving on what little food and water is available. Mostly, though, they are lonely…and fifteen years is a long time to be exclusively in the company of one another.

When Lazlo and the Tizerkane arrive in Weep, their worlds will collide. How can the godspawn survive a hunting party seeking them out—and how can Lazlo stand by while innocents are affected?

BFF Charm: Yay x 2

2 BFF charms

Lazlo and Sarai, one of the godspawn girls, are fascinating characters. Lazlo is thoughtful and dreamy, with a healthy appreciation for books and scholarship, and Sarai is doomed to watch Weep from above, getting to witness human interaction through her powers, but never experiencing it. Despite that bittersweet punishment, she’s nurturing and reasonable with her volatile housemates. She doesn’t wish the humans harm anymore—and that’s even before she meets Lazlo and his compellingly optimistic view of the world. If they weren’t in an alternate universe with gods and magic powers, these are totally the kind of people you’d want to join your book club.

Swoonworthy Scale: 7

Laini Taylor writes such prettily-worded romance—which you already know, if you’ve read the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. Nothing about Lazlo and Sarai’s burgeoning relationship is normal, but, despite that, their feelings are entirely believable. You know exactly why they’re drawn to each other (and if you’re me, you’d hop onboard the Lazlo Strange train anytime. Choo choo!). When they finally do give into their attraction, it’s practically poetic.

Talky Talk: Dreams of Libraries and Godspawn

This is standard Taylor prose, which is anything but standard. The world of Zosma and Weep are rendered in a lot of sensual and almost cinematic detail, making it very easy to picture the alien surroundings. This doesn’t interfere with the plot, luckily (yes, you can have it all, reader!)—in a lesser author’s hands, it might come off as an info dump. In Taylor’s hands, it’s a deliciously-built world.

There were just two places where I was jolted out of the narrative. Occasionally, the language is repetitive (“damson” is overused), and there were a couple of dream sequences that seemed endless. Because the main plot is so interesting, the two overlong dream sequences felt like a detour.

That’s a small price to pay for writing that ranges from gorgeous to dryly hilarious, though.

“Don’t tell me it’s like when we used to lick the spoons to claim our place at the table.”

Sparrow tossed up the plum and caught it. “It is a little like that, yes.”

“Well then. The spoons were always fair game again after a wash. The same ought to go for boys.”

[…] Sparrow couldn’t tell if she was joking, or truly saw no difference between licked spoons and licked boys.

Bonus Factor: Librarians

Lazlo is already a great character when he’s living in Zosma, but then he undergoes the literary equivalent of a Travel Makeover Montage and becomes all tanned and muscular. If there’s anything better than a kind librarian, I guess it would have to be a ripped kind librarian. He’s total bibliophile bait—yeah, sure, I guess I can read about a genuinely nice guy who likes to read and speaks forgotten languages and goes off on an epic adventure with hardly a second thought. What a hardship!

Bonus Factor: Tasty Business

Multiple plates of food on a nice table in a fancy dining room

Lazlo, as a peasant orphan, and Sarai, being trapped as she is, live on limited palates. When it’s time for them to actually eat something new, it’s described in painstakingly delicious detail.

Relationship Status: Missing My Other Half

Book, I was a little apprehensive about our date. Could anything be as good as Daughter of Smoke and Bone? Were my expectations too high? What were you even going to be about, really? I shouldn’t have worried. Our date was as if I got to live in an alien world for a few hours, and you kept me delighted the entire time. Well, except for that ending. I need the other half now.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Little, Brown. This review was originally posted on Kirkus Reviews in exchange for monetary compensation, which did not affect or influence my opinions. Strange the Dreamer is available now.