A very happy book birthday to Strange the Dreamer – the first in a new duology by Laini Taylor author of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series.
This has been one of my most anticipated reads of 2017 after reading a sampler last year. The sampler also encouraged me to finally read her first series, which I loved, and I entirely blame, for making me plan a trip to Prague in 2018.
The setting of Strange the Dreamer is entirely fictional so that should save me some money, although I will be needing the follow up in Hardcover too. I got my little grabby hands on a beautiful signed and blue edged copy on Saturday so spent the weekend reading it. I’d already made a mask prop for bookstagram and the story is set in a city called Weep so Sadness was a must for the picture below.
The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around— and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever.
What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?
The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? and if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?
In this sweeping and breathtaking new novel by National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor, author of the New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, the shadow of the past is as real as the ghosts who haunt the citadel of murdered gods. Fall into a mythical world of dread and wonder, moths and nightmares, love and carnage.
Welcome to Weep.
What I Thought
Looking at the reviews on Goodreads it appears Laini Taylor is quite a polarising author, and I’m glad to say I am fully in the love her camp. Her writing is so beautiful that it made me read more slowly because I didn’t want to miss any words or the images they create. I’m not a very visual reader normally but, I can see her worlds.
We are thrown straight in to a world where people have two hearts and blood and spirit runs through them. I would have liked a pronunciation guide for some of the words because my brain was getting twisted trying to read them but I loved the myth and mystery that that bought.
Much as in her previous series we focus mainly on two points of view, that of Lazlo and the blue skinned goddess, though we do step into the minds of other characters too at times. There was only one point where the POV shifted within a scene unexpectedly. But, it was in a shared scene.
Lazlo is a dreamer and believer, a lover of books and stories, and as a fellow book person I was naturally drawn to him, but I also felt for Sarai, and was compelled by her inner conflict. Gods and Monsters seems to be a common theme in Laini’s work and she doesn’t shy away from exploring the murky side of what makes a Hero or a Villain. Consequently her characters are rich and complex, as well as humorous and human. There’s one character that reminded me of Claudia from Interview with a Vampire and there is more than one heartbreaking relationship explored in this book.
I don’t want to say much more because I don’t want to spoil it but this book is magic and you will want to savour it and it will destroy you and … how long do we have to wait until part two?
If you’ve read the book and want to discuss DM me on twitter.
Also over the weekend I read samplers for The Boy on the Bridge by MR Carey and Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh but thankfully only have to wait until May to read them. Lucky really as I’ll be doing Camp NaNo in April.
Thorn, an outlaw’s son, wasn’t supposed to be a slave. He’s been sold to Tyburn, an executioner, and they’re headed to Castle Gloom in Gehenna, the land of undead, where Thorn will probably be fed to a vampire.
Lilith Shadow wasn’t supposed to be ruler of Gehenna. But following the murder of her family, young Lily became the last surviving member of House Shadow, a long line of dark sorcerers. Her country is surrounded by enemies and the only way she can save it is by embracing her heritage and practicing the magic of the undead. But how can she when, as a girl, magic is forbidden to her?
Just when it looks like Lily will have to leave her home forever, Thorn arrives at Castle Gloom. A sudden death brings them together, inspires them to break the rules, and leads them to soar to new heights in this fantasy with all the sparkle and luster of a starry night sky.
Joshua Khan was born in Britain. From very early on he filled himself with the stories of heroes, kings and queens until there was hardly any room for anything else. He can tell you where King Arthur was born* but not what he himself had for breakfast. So, with a head stuffed with tales of legendary knights, wizards and great and terrible monsters it was inevitable Joshua would want to create some of his own. Hence SHADOW MAGIC. Josh lives in London with his family, but he’d rather live in a castle. It wouldn’t have to be very big, just as long as it had battlements. *Tintagel, in case you were wondering.
What I Thought
Well, I couldn’t defy Rick Riordan – I loved this story.
This is a fantastic addition to the fantasy genre aimed at younger readers (with much older ones able to enjoy it just as much).
Lily and Thorn are both great lead characters and immediately make you want to invest in their story. And, what a story. It’s full of twists and turns and working out who is good and who isn’t (like anything is that simple anyway) will keep you guessing. I found myself questioning my mind many times. The only one slight frustration I had was how easily the characters jumped to conclusions at times, but I will forgive them this time.
There are three key animal sidekicks in this and each play an important role in the story, there’s a clue to my favourite one on the front cover.
There is clearly a lot more to know about this world and the magic within in but the information is being given to us piece and piece, when necessary, and makes you want more. So I’m very happy to say there will be at least two more books in this series. Dream Magic comes out in 2017 and Burning Magic has been announced too.
If you like…Seven reasons you will love Shadow Magic
- Books in maps
- Abraxos in the Throne of Glass series – Hades is very cool
- Mia’s magic in Nevernight
- Game of Thrones (for a MG audience)
- A feministy slant to your books – women aren’t allowed to do magic – What?!
- Spooky castles with secret tunnels
- Graveyards, ghosts and zombies
Scholastic are really doing well on their acquisition of middle grade fantasy. Looking forward to reading more.
Check out the rest of the tour on the blogs below
I received a copy of the book from the publisher but as ever the review and opinion on the book is ALL MINE.
Ellis is losing track of time…
After leaving her friends to move to a crumbling Scottish mansion, Ellis is overcome by anxiety and loneliness. Then she hears whispers in the walls…and finds herself whisked back in time to 1912.
At first, she feels like she’s finally home. But the past may not be as perfect as it seems – and is there more to hope for in the present than she first thought?
Karen McCombie is from Aberdeen but now lives in North London with her husband, daughter and one big ginger cat.
Before Karen became a full-time writer she worked for several teen magazines such as Just Seventeen, Bliss and Sugar in a variety roles – everything from Fashion Editor to Features Editor – all very exciting and glam!
Karen has sold over one million books in the UK alone and has been translated into 15 languages.
Find out more at http://www.karenmccombie.co.uk and take the opportunity to join Karen’s Club!
What I Thought
This was a quick and easy read and at its heart a touching story – it reminds me of something I wrote when younger which I think was probably inspired by watching Moondial. I wonder if all children being dragged round old houses imagine flitting back to the past and meeting the inhabitants of a past time?
Well for Ellis this really happens.
I like the extended metaphor that the jumps back in time are for Ellis in terms of her feeling out of place and unwanted. Her mother has just remarried and she has a new stepdad and stepsister – and all this has happened in the last few months. In 1912 she befriends Flora, a housemaid who is bullied by those around her, the two of them become each other’s shoulder and Ellis starts to explore how she had been treated by ‘so-called friends’ in the past.
Ellis transforms as the book progresses and begins to assert herself and challenge the secrets that are being kept from her. Her experience of anxiety and other people’s reactions to it were handled well – the whirlwind romance experienced by the adults is for Ellis a ‘Whirl, tilt, shift’. I would add this book to a list of those that deals with mental health in a sensitive way – but as part of a wider story and not the sole focus.
Now, I put the 1912 date together with another little clue before Ellis did but that was part of the fun – when was she going to twig? There was a twist though that I wasn’t expecting. Very clever McCombie!!
I received my review copy from Scholastic via Faye Rogers – opinions as ever are my own.
Please find details of the rest of the stops on the blog tour here: