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.
Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor is the second book in the Strange the Dreamer duology. It was published by Hodder & Stoughton on October 2nd 2018.
No trigger warnings.
Laini Taylor has been one of my favourite authors since I first picked up Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Her writing is so beautiful, and while that can be a little bit of a downside if you’re not in the mood for such a richly written story her books have never failed to completely enchant me. After I finished Strange the Dreamer Muse of Nightmares shot to the top of my most-anticipated releases of 2018 list, and when I finally read it it didn’t disappoint.
“The gods had been dead for fifteen years, after all, but their hate had lingered, and ruled in their stead.”
After Sarai fell from the sky Lazlo discovered he was one of the Godspawn, and not just any Godspawn but one with the power to manipulate mesarthium, and free Weep from the shadow of Skathis’ Citadel. Reeling from everything they saw the citizens of Weep wait, but Minya isn’t willing to leave, not without taking her revenge for the children she wasn’t able to save. With Sarai’s ghost kept from fading only thanks to her power Minya has exactly what she needs to bend Lazlo to her will.
Ruby, Feral and Sparrow manage to buy Lazlo and Sarai more time, free from Minya’s control, but exploring the Citadel in search of answers to all the questions they have opens more doors – doors to other worlds – than they realise. There were a lot of questions I was left with while reading Strange the Dreamer, but Muse of Nightmares finally answered them. This was an incredibly connected book, there were things set up in Strange the Dreamer. and the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy that came into play in Muse of Nightmares.
“Good little girls don’t stab their nurses and drag toddlers over their corpses in order to save their lives. Good little girls don’t kill. They die.
And Minya was not a good little girl.”
The relationship between Sarai and Lazlo was beautifully written, full of emotion and in some ways heartbreak. Before their obstacles were that one was human and the other was Godspawn, but now they’re divided by Sarai’s death and leash Minya has on her spirit controlling her every action. Still they don’t give up. Both Sarai and Lazlo have found in each other somewhere they belong, and after the lonely years of their lives before they met they’re determined to find a way to be together, and Sarai believes that answer lies in healing Minya.
Minya is one of my favourite characters in this duology. We learnt some of her past from Sarai’s perspective in Strange the Dreamer, but in this book we see a different side of things. Determined to help her heal Sarai uses her moths to see Minya’s dreams, going back to the night Eril-Fane slaughtered the Gods and their children. Minya is still trapped in that moment, fleeing with Sarai, Sparrow, Ruby and Feral, and she’s held on so strongly to her army of ghosts that she hasn’t allowed her mind to heal.
“Once upon a time, a sister made a vow she didn’t know how to break, and it broke her instead.
Once upon a time, a girl did the impossible, but she did it just a little too late.”
The world we were introduced to in the first book was massively expanded on, instead of just staying in Weep Muse of Nightmares took us to other worlds. We learnt about what happened to the other Godspawn who were taken from the Citadel long before Lazlo was born and long before Eril-Fane could kill them, and we learnt the history of the Gods, going back even further to follow Nova’s and Kora’s story.
Instantly I felt for Nova, her journey following her sister spanned hundreds of years and it broke my heart. I loved the relationship between the two sisters, it was one filled with such love that even when worlds separated them they were still reaching out to one another. Nova was a very morally grey character, willing to do anything it took to save her sister no matter who else it hurt, and one of the things I loved about Muse of Nightmares is that there are no clear villains. Every character is an intriguing mixture of good and bad, and there’s no one whose actions I couldn’t somewhat relate to.
“Skathis might have been an artist, but he’d been a vile one. Strange the dreamer was an artist, too, and he was the antidote to vile.”
A lot of Muse of Nightmares focused on the different relationships between the characters, letting them heal as those relationships developed; Sarai and Lazlo’s romance was only one part of this story. When reading Strange the Dreamer I struggled to get into the story at first but I didn’t have that trouble with Muse of Nightmares; because it was a world I knew, characters I loved, and a story I couldn’t wait to continue.
Anything Laini Taylor writes is pure magic. I can’t wait to see what she comes out with next, and if it will connect back to the worlds we were introduced to in Strange the Dreamer and Daughter of Smoke and Bone.
Have you read Muse of Nightmares, or is it still on your TBR list?
Did you struggle to get into Muse of Nightmares, did you have to be in the right mood to pick this book up or were you hooked from the start? What did you think of the addition of Nova and Kora’s story, and who was your favourite character?
Have you read any of Laini Taylor’s other releases, which is your favourite?