Title: Muse of Nightmares (Strange the Dreamer #2)
Author: Laini Taylor
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: October 2nd 2018 from Little Brown
Narrator: Steve West
Listening Time: 15 hours, 55 mins
**WARNING: The synopsis of this book and my review WILL contain spoilers for the evens of Strange the Dreamer. If you haven’t read the first book yet, tread here with a lot of caution just in case.**
Goodreads Synopsis: 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?
It is done! I have finished another series! I just finished this audio book over the weekend and I’m glad to finally know the ending of this beloved series. Like so many people, this was one of my most anticipated books of the entire year. I love the first book so much, and while I was a tiny bit scared of how this sequel would play out, I think this is a solid ending to the series. So here’s the breakdown of my thoughts on this sequel/ending!
- Narrator: Once again, Steve West proves that he is a narrator that enchants you into the story, leaving no room for error. He captures the grief, fear, sadness and also love in this sequel. He brings his A game to this sequel and I don’t think anyone else could’ve narrated this series. If you are an audio book person, you NEED to experience this series with his narration. You won’t be disappointed!
- World Building: I like how you got more world building through the second story line of this book. The world gets much better with the story of Kora and Nova, two sisters who are entwined in Lazlo and Sarai’s story. I loved how different these world threads were and just shows how Taylor wonderfully balances a lot of world building in this series without it feeling like info dumps at all. The world also brings more magic to the story, especially how things tie up in the end.
- Last Half: While I admit the last half of the story was much better, it was a good way to end the series. I see what people are saying with catching a tie in with her Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. (My husband actually caught that tie in from I’ve told him about the series. He read both books so that was fun!) But the last half has some good suspense, build up and answers to the past, character motivations and other secrets from the first book.
- Sisterly Emotions: Kora and Nova’s story was really compelling for me. While I wasn’t sure how bringing in new characters to follow was going to go, it was really satisfying for me. Their story runs in with the themes of hatred, love and loss like our main characters. Their story was done very well, and while it does overshadow Lazlo and Sarai’s story a tiny bit, I think their story was much needed and rounded out the story very well.
- First Half: I will be totally honest and say that the first half felt like a lot of fluffy filler and that it didn’t carry out that same tension like the ending of book one. It felt like that after Sarai died and Minya held her soul hostage, it shifted to just more pining and romance between Lazlo and Sarai’s ghost. I found it weird that they could touch each other so much with her being dead technically. This first half was actually the reason that I didn’t finish this as fast as I would have. It was too much romantic fluff and didn’t focus on the consequences of Minya’s actions and such.
- Lack of Weep Chapters: You hardly get any chapters of what goes on in Weep after the citadel causes a massive earthquake and almost collapses. You get some moments with Thyon, Ruza and Calixte, but not enough for me. You see a few moments that talks about what the city did after the events, but I just wanted a little bit more closure for the city and its consequences. There also wasn’t a lot of time with the minor characters that were getting established in book one. People like Thyon felt a bit pushed off to the side without too much development by the end.
- Not Enough Lazlo: While I get that Sarai is the protagonist for this sequel, I still missed Lazlo’s POV chapters. My husband agreed that he enjoyed Lazlo’s way of seeing the world and his sense of doing the right thing and also I wanted to learn his thought process for his new situation and the things he learns. I feel it was told a little too much instead of showing his reactions to things. I didn’t enjoy Sarai’s POV quite as much as Lazlo.
- Personal Preference: This is just my personal preference, but I thought the sexual situations overall in this series is too much for a YA series. But that’s just me; I don’t think the kind of sexual details and situations need to be in YA, but this was just a personal thing. It doesn’t affect the rating like the other cons do, but I wanted to mention it here.
Overall: This is a good, solid ending to this series. While some things weren’t played out as much and some focus wasn’t in the right place, I still enjoyed the answers we got. You do get a good amount of development of the past and the fate of these characters. I do hope to hear more references to them in future books. While I enjoy the first book more than this one, I’m still glad to see how things ended and it was worth the wait.
Have you read Muse of Nightmares? Did you listen to the audio book and if so, did you like it? How do you like these book compared to the first one? What other epic fantasies do you recommend?