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Book Review: Fledgling by Octavia Butler

Book Review: Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor

I've written this before, but I should probably repeat it:

The reason I love Laini Taylor is that she does fantasy that isn't the same-old fantasy. So much of fantasy is evocative of something else, and I just don't have the reading time or patience to re-read the same story told in a slightly different way. Laini Taylor's fantasy is unique; it's not retold Tolkien or George R. R. Martin, it's not even fairy-tale or myth reworkings. It's different from anything else. 

That holds true for the sequel to Strange the Dreamer. Muse of nightmares cover

At least...mostly true.

I can't believe I'm writing this, because I love Laini Taylor, but I had mixed feelings about The Muse of Nightmares.

On the I-loved-this-book-so-much side, I enjoyed the story. It starts right where Strange the Dreamer left off, except it also adds two new characters, Kora and Nova, who are sisters living on an island in an Arctic setting. These sisters added greatly to the tale, even though at first you're not exactly sure how they fit in to the story of Strange and Sarai. (Plus I just really love stories about sisters, and Kora and Nova add a layer of story that makes the whole novel so much richer.) There is the same excellent writing style, and as the story works through its crises, your heart pounds and you just want to know who will be safe. And Mina, a character I didn’t pay much attention to in the first book, became one of my favorite novel characters I’ve ever read.

Plus there's another library, this one that needs to be excavated before its contents fall into the river flowing under Weep.

As I write this, I find it hard to explain the tug on the other side, the I-loved-this-book-except feeling. This is because I really did enjoy so much about the book. I think what I didn't love is the way the romance between Sarai and Lazlo develops; it was so beautiful and heartfelt and meaningful that it started to bug me a little bit. I wanted there to be some resistance, for them to argue about something or to have some non-resolvable personal issue that they had to work around...but there wasn't any. It was just soft and sweet, just new, young love, with all of the conflict coming from external sources.

Probably this is a problem only for me, and it's why I tend to avoid romance novels in the first place. I'm not sure if it annoys me because I never had a relationship like that and I wish I had, or if I know they actually only exist in romance novels rather than real life. 

Plus I wanted to spend more time in Weep.

Still, though. My expectations are high because this is Laini Taylor. In fact, as I think about it, what I am realizing that what bothered me is that it is evocative of other fantasy: Laini Taylor's. It made me remember the end of Dreams of Gods and Monsters​, where Karou and Akiva are sort-of together but it's left with an unfulfilled tension. It’s almost as if all of those un-exploded fireworks between Karou and Akiva finally explode between Strange and Sarai.

As if they were slightly the same characters.

(Even though they’re really not the same characters.)

And maybe it’s because I’ve listened to Laini Taylor in person, talking about writing. Only once, but the metaphor she used—writing as if she is swimming from buoy to buoy—has stuck with me. So maybe for me, I can’t extricate her as a writer from myself as a reader reading what she creates; I find myself thinking how is she making this story while I’m reading the story.

Of course, none of my I-loved-it-except tugs are enough to keep me from saying that I loved this duology, and I will recommend it to many readers. (Just not young teenagers; this is definitely a fantasy for older teens. Or, you know. Adults who love really great fantasy.)

I hope you read it too.


Becky K

I loved it as well. But I agree - the parts I loved most didn’t involve the love story. Mina rocked the story - she was one oh my favorite characters. And the Godslayer’s story 😍. There’s a passage I still need to text to you but iwamred to wait til I knew you’d finished.

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