There’s nothing special about Lazlo Strange – at least, not on the outside. Orphan turned librarian, he’s quiet and sweet and keeps his nose buried in books. He lives in a fantasy world of fairy tales whilst the scholars around him focus on more ‘important’ things like alchemy and such. The thing about Strange though is that he has a dream, a dream about the lost city of Weep, the city he has dreamt about since hearing stories from an old monk. Strange the Dreamer tells how Lazlo craves to find and visit this lost city, knowing in truth that he’ll never be able to until one day, a rather surprising opportunity comes along.
Excuse me whilst I go into crazy fangirl mode. Not a mode I go into often – that should tell you all you need to know.
Laini Taylor is a truly extraordinary and gifted writer. Her descriptions are detailed and beautifully verbose without being overly flowery or boring, and her prose is at least part poetry with its rhythm and pace. Add to that a tale that will keep you up all night and thinking about it througout the next day, desperate to be able to pick up the book again, and a fantasy world that is compelling, magical, beautiful, and complex, and you’re definitely on to a winner. One of the other things to really love about this book is the focus that Taylor puts on reading – and on reading fantasy/fairy tales in particular. If I was to take any moral from this book it would be to read more stories because it’s the readers who win in the end.
Strange the Dreamer is everything you could possibly want in YA fantasy… or in fact simply in fantasy. It’s got magic, of course, it’s got a little mayhem and mischief, it’s got beauty and love and hate and war. It’s a rollercoaster ride of emotions and mystery and some of the most beautiful sentences that I’ve ever had the good fortune to read. I even rather enjoyed the love element – now that is impressive! After reading (and being entirely blown away by) the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, Strange the Dreamer is everything I had hoped it would be and more. Seriously, you need to read this book.