Muse of Nightmares (Strange the Dreamer, #2) – Laini Taylor

25446343Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Sarai has lived and breathed nightmares since she was six years old.
She believed she knew every horror, and was beyond surprise.
She was wrong.
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.


This review will contain some minor spoilers.

I’ve said it a million times before and I’ll say it again and again. . . Laini Taylor is an exceptional storyteller. She writes the most beautiful words and creates stunning and imaginative worlds. Laini’s writing is literally magic. All of her books are so lyrical and full of unique characters and worlds. Muse of Nightmares was no exception. Strange the Dreamer is one of my all time favorite books and I was thrilled to be back in this world. I had no idea what to except from Muse of Nightmares, but I was blown away. Laini has outdone herself. Muse was better than I could have ever imagined.

Muse picks up immediately after Strange ended. Sarai has just died and Minya saved her soul using her power. Minya tries to use Sarai against Lazlo. She wants Lazlo to take her and her ghost army down to Weep to attack Eril-Fane and the humans. I had forgotten how dang creepy Minya is! Laini writes her creepiness so well! “The girl was so small in her unnatural body, still dressed in the fifteen-year tatters of her nursery clothes. Her face was round and soft, a child’s face, and her big dark eyes blazed with vicious triumph. With nothing but the burn of those eyes to contradict the rest of her–her tininess, her grubiness–she managed to radiate power, and worse than power: a malignant zealotry that was its own law and covenant.” I can see Minya perfectly in my mind and she terrifies me…especially whenever the other characters comment on her childish voice. Despite being such a good villain, I definitely feel for Minya. She has experienced such trauma in her life and been forced to be the adult for Sarai, Ruby, Sparrow, and Feral. Her childhood was ripped away and all that was left was hate. “Death had made her who she was: this unnatural child who never grew up, who never forgot, and would never forgive.” This does not excuse Minya’s behavior, but it shows that she is a very complex character. This is something Laini does so well…she is able to create complex villains who the audience can understand. Throughout Muse we learn more about Minya, her history, and why she is so hateful. I gained so much perspective and by the end of the book I was so happy with Minya’s story arc and ending.

One of the biggest plot points in Muse is Skathis’s history and discovering what happened to the other godspawn children from the citadel nursery. I had absolutely no ideas or theories. It was a slow build up to the reveal, but I liked watching the characters put the clues together (especially with the addition of Nova and her POV). I was shocked by the reveal! Both because I wasn’t expecting it and it shows how terrible Skathis was!! I won’t go into details to keep spoilers minimal, but I am still thinking about what happened to the other godspawn children.

The world of Strange the Dreamer and Muse of Nightmares expanded massively in this book. We learn that long ago the Seraphim discovered that there were thousands of parallel worlds in addition to their own (Meliz). The used their magic to cut through the barriers and create portals to and from each world. Zeru (the world in which Strange and Muse take place) is just one of thousands of worlds. This means that the world and universe that Laini has created is HUGE! This brings me to my absolute favorite part of Muse. . . the EPIC callback to the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. When learning about the Seraphim and what happened to them, the narrator states that the Seraph world of Meliz was lost so they escaped into the neighboring world of ERETZ!!! It then states. . . “A bold young queen in that distant world was even now training a legion of angels and chimaera to battle the darkness and hopefully destroy it. But that’s another story.” I actually screamed when I read this! I just love Laini and her writing so much! I love how it’s all connected!!! The best part…this means that the stories in this universe are infinite. Laini can create as many worlds as she wants and it will all be connected. I hope that one day Lazlo, Sarai, and co. will meet Karou and Akiva! A girl can dream, right?!

A few quick points…

  • The dream sequences were pure beauty, imagination, and creativity. I love watching Lazlo and Sarai live in their fantasies and be truly happy and safe. I think the way they can change the dreamscape is one of the coolest and most inventive parts of the story. I want to go the Dreamer’s Weep!
  • Lazlo and Sarai’s love is so pure and beautiful. They care and love one another so deeply. Lazlo shows Sarai that she doesn’t have to be “The Muse of Nightmares,” but instead can be “The Goddess of Dreams.” Sarai shows Lazlo what it’s like to be loved and to have a family.
  • I loved Thyon Nero’s story arc! He was redeemed and began to change into a good person. I loved seeing him make friends and actually want to belong! I was so happy that he joined the expedition crew at the end.

The ending was perfect. PERFECT. Laini Taylor is a queen and she joins J.K. Rowling and Sarah J. Maas as my favorite authors.

I have a ridiculous number of favorite quotes marked, but I tried to narrow it down. . .

  • “There’s been so much pain. This is a chance for a new beginning. We aren’t our parents. We don’t have to be monsters. Don’t make us monsters.”
  • He was strange the dreamer, after all. He wasn’t your ordinary dreamer, prey to all the vagaries of the unconscious. He moved through his mind with the assuredness of an explorer and the grace of a poet.
  • “There must be things that are impossible. But I don’t believe we’ve gotten there yet. Look at us. We’ve barely begin. Sarai, we’re magic.”
  • “Just because the power is mine, it doesn’t follow that all choices are.”
  • But Sarai knew what she knew–what only she knew–and the greatest feat of strength she had ever witnessed was the one he performed every day: continuing to live for the sake of others, when it would be so much easier to stop.
  • “Can we leave the past behind us?” she asked. Could they? The question was everything. “That’s an excellent place for the past,” said Suheyla. “If you don’t leave it there, it clutters up and you just keep tripping over it.”
  • “You can’t save everyone, Sarai. You know that, don’t you?” “I know,” she said. “But we can try. And…maybe that’s how we save ourselves.”
  • “People,” she said. “People are our safe places. I have one: a person who’s a home and a world to me.”
  • Once upon a time there was a silence that dreamed of becoming a song, and then I found you, and now everything is music.
  • Out of hundreds of worlds?” said Thyon. “It would be stranger if there weren’t dragons.”
  • Wishes don’t just come true. They’re only the target you paint around what you want. You still have to hit the bull’s eye yourself.
  • Men have decided between them that this is what my body and labor are worth for life.
    • I included this quote because I found it so powerful and relevant to today’s society. I am tired of old men in our government telling women what we can and can’t do with our bodies. This is my PSA to GO VOTE!

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