Muse of Nightmares by Lanini Taylor is the sequel to Strange the Dreamer, a book I very much enjoyed. Muse of Nightmares picked up moments after the first left off, continuing the adventure of Lazlo Strange and Sarai, now a ghost, and their friends – godspawn and humans alike.
Now, the writing of these two books is amazing. The writing is dreamy, intelligent, and poetic; Taylor’s writing is a fantastic example of omnipresent narrator. She seamlessly goes between the POV of characters, sharing their thoughts and backgrounds. Now, in Strange the Dreamer, that POV did take time to get used to. At first, I didn’t like it. I was used to one POV and one character; In Strange the Dreamer/Muse of Nightmares, we have dozens. She doesn’t do the POV chapter by chapter, but within chapters. If you’d ask me what I thought about multiple POVs within the same chapter, I’d say I hated it. But Taylor seamlessly flows the POVs in such a way that it’s obvious and not jarring.
Muse of Nightmares took a while to get into the story, but I had that same issue with Strange the Dreamer. The prose is lovely and readable, but the first one hundred pages or so felt bogged with it. The story seemed stretched to fill pages. The first one hundred or so pages felt so boring. We went back into every character and went over their state of mind, position in the story, and their background, and it all felt so tedious. So little actual story was happening beside it. There was a lot of Lazlo and Sarai being mushy-gushy in love, which, to be honest, I wasn’t a fan of.
And when the story did start to happen, it happened slowly. (Not a bad thing, just an observation.) And then the whole mystery of the duology – what happened so long ago and why – started to unfold and… Guys, I’m not going to lie, it got a little weird about the 2/3 mark. It went almost a little too sci-fi for my fantasy-tuned tastes. And after all the mystery build-up, the reveal felt a little… I don’t know, anticlimactic. It was well presented, though; Taylor did a lovely job of pulling all the strings of the story together. The story crashed together with the same poetic, dreamy, and intelligent writing.
And, sometimes a mystery is so built up, no answer will suffice.
And, oh, the worldbuilding was so utterly fantastic! I have never encountered a fantasy world as richly built and presented as the one Taylor has created. It’s so different and original, and I love that about it. It’s far beyond the typical YA Fantasy world, with its lavish construction and detailed lore – without being overpowering; as a fantasy writer, I am in a feverish, envious awe.
I highly recommend this duology for all fantasy readers/writers.