Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Published: October 2, 2018
Read as: Audiobook from Audible
Average Goodreads rating: 4.59
My rating: 3.5
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? (Goodreads)
“It’s the mind. It’s the most complex and astonishing thing there is, that there’s a world inside each of us that no one else can ever know or see or visit.”
~*THIS REVIEW WILL CONTAIN SOME SPOILERS*~
When I read Strange the Dreamer in December of 2017, I fell head over heels in love. It was one of the most magnificent books I have ever read. Of course, I have since spent the last year yearning to get my hands on Muse of Nightmares which was easily my most anticipated read of 2018. Early reviews of Muse were absolutely glowing and I already had a torch burning for it in a pocket of my heart. I was ready for it. So, when release day came and I got the lovely notification that my Audible download had completed, I immediately slipped on my earphones, ready to once more be lost in this magical world with Lazlo Strange.
But expectations are not always reality.
I am going to start with what I disliked about this book so that I can end this review on a high note of positives. Unfortunately, and nearly heartbreakingly, I did have several issues.
First of note is something of a personal preference that most likely would not bother most readers and that is the romantic plot between Lazlo and Sarai. Even my black, tangled heart enjoys a good love story from time to time but this one seemed to eat up the majority of the story. Was there something interesting going on, something that made me want to gobble up the story? Oops, better make Lazlo give Sarai a marshmallowy look or touch. Was focus on another set of characters, or on Lazlo exploring his newly found powers? Yes? Alright, well then better make sure to mention he loves Sarai again, just in case any readers forgot. Their love story quickly began to over shadow everything else going on and it was frustrating. We have Lazlo, the young man we all grew attached to in Strange the Dreamer for his uniqueness and unquenchable thirst for knowledge, and he has turned into a mostly useless puddle of hearts and rainbows any time his dead girlfriend’s ghost was mentioned. It became very annoying, very fast.
Another point that took away from the story more than added to it was more or less ANYTHING going on on the ground instead of in the citadel. I, for one, was very interested in seeing what what going on in Weep during what was going to obviously be a time of upheaval and panic. Instead, any sections in Weep felt like mere filler instead of anything consequential to the story. Legitimately, any scenes in Weep could have been left out until the final section of the book and it would not have changed or affected the plot what so ever.
This was incredibly frustrating because there were hints at what could have been a great sub plot with Thyon Nero. He gets some much needed character growth and a bit of a redemption plot but none of it tied into the main story. In the first book, he and his experiments occupied a large chunk of time and he felt vital to the overall direction of the story. In Muse, he was little more than an afterthought. It was more of, “Oh, this character was in the story before, I had better find away to work him into the background in this book,” more than he was anything else. Thyon and the relationships he was building and the growth he was experiencing should have been so much more vital than a damn afterthought.
That is enough with me complaining, lets get to some positives, shall we?
Holy ever loving crap, Minya gets the story she so deserved. That girl is miraculous and so, so very damaged. I apologize for every time I ever said a bad word about her because once Muse digs into her backstory, your heart will break for that little blue girl and suddenly all of her anger, hate, and need for vengeance will make complete sense. Despite that continuously blathering romantic story in this book, Minya is the true star. She saved all she could. Pardon me while I go cry as I think about that repeated line again.
Taylor’s writing itself is some of the most magical work I have ever read. I’m not meaning the plot, the story, or the setting. No, the writing. How the sentences flow together seamlessly, how the world comes to life with only a few words, and how the characters jump off the page to join you, fully fleshed out. Taylor doesn’t just write a book, write a plot line, she creates and nurtures the entire world until it is flourishing. There are no jarring topic jumps and unwieldy sentence structures. Instead it all flows together to be easily read and imagined without being overly weighty. That truly is magical.
I could keep on going for several more paragraphs with various positives and negatives but I think you get my drift. The book was beautifully written and delightfully intricate. At the same time, there are some sub plots that feel like filler and some characters that should have had more time in the limelight. Overall, it was still a good book but fell well short of expectations for me.
As a side note, I would also like to point out that the narrator for the audiobook, Steve West, did a stupendous job. He is a wonderful narrator and one of my favorites. His style and voice bring fantastical worlds to life while I am stuck doing mundane things like dishes, laundry, or running errands. If you enjoy audiobooks I highly recommend looking up ones that he has narrated.