Strange the Dreamer – Laini Taylor

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1)

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor is the first book in a fantasy duology. From the first few pages, I was drawn into the story like a moth to a flame and it never let me go. The author has a way with words and was able to vividly paint a world that I immediately fell in love with. From a young age, Lazlo Strange has been entranced by the idea of Weep, the Unseen City, and all of its mysteries lost to time and memory. His dreams come true when he learns that there is a chance for outsiders, including himself, to travel to the city – as long as he is bold enough to seize it.

Lazlo is a dreamer, a librarian, a scholar (although not in title), a kind heart, and a storyteller. I just formed an immediate connection with him. There are many characters that I relate to, but he struck a chord with me from the first chapter and I can’t explain it. I loved being able to explore the world through his eyes. His passion for Weep reminded me of my love for Atlantis, as he poured through texts, learned the language, and dreamt about what the city might have looked like. He was a fully realized character from the first page, but it was nice to be able to watch him grow over the course of the novel, discover hidden depths within himself, and answer questions that had been plaguing him his whole life.

Each main and supporting character was given a distinct personality. Many had backstories that wove their way into the narrative in unexpected ways, serving to add dimension and depth to the tapestry that was the characters’ interconnected lives. She created a story with two opposing sides and you could not determine the best course of action for the well-being of all. There just doesn’t seem to be a way for everyone to safely walk away and it breaks your heart.

The story focuses more on the characters than the plot, but that does not mean that the plot is lacking in any fashion. I was engaged in the story from Lazlo’s time in the library through his travel to the Unseen City, and finally the adventure he encounters within the city’s walls. The plot was not predictable but also was not convoluted – each twist and turn had been carefully plotted and for the careful reader was clearly where the story would travel. The pacing was smooth and never dragged, but saying anything more could be full of spoilers.

The author is well known for her poetic writing style, vivid prose, and beautifully described worlds – this book was no exception. It may be a little challenging at first for a more casual reader to get used to, but before long they’ll be enamored by her writing style and will flow through the book as smoothly as the sentences themselves. They lend themselves beautifully to being quoted and remembered, make a place in your heart, and demand that you fall in love with them.

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