“It was impossible, of course. But when did that ever stop any dreamer from dreaming?”
“Life won’t just happen to you boy, he said. You have to happen to it”
Strange the Dreamer is a fantasy novel at the more adult end of the YA spectrum; I might even comfortably class it as an adult novel. It blends together myths, monsters, dreams and tragedies into it’s beautiful prose. It’s about a boy who is raised in a library, a librarian who has a dream about a city lost two hundred years ago. The city of Weep whose name is not Weep, whose name, fifteen years ago, was wiped from the name of every human. Why? How? These are the questions that haunt Lazlo Strange.
“You think good people can’t hate? Good people can’t kill? Good people do all the things bad people do, Lazlo, except that when they do them they call it justice”
It’s also about a girl with blue skin. Sarai: seventeen years old and a goddess and a girl and a demon all in one. Sarai and Lazlo are both gems of characters; it takes a good writer to write a monstrous yet relatable woman. I can pick out a few in YA literature – Nona Grey (Red Sister), Thorn Bathu (Half the World), Lada Dragwyla (And I Darken) – but most end up being sarcastic, archetypal teenagers. Sarai is not one of these. It’s about an alchemist. About five orphaned children. About a secret that has kept a city closed for two hundred years. It’s about a man called Godslayer and the gods he slayed. It’s about dreams and destiny and love and fear.
“You’re a storyteller. Dream up something wild and improbable,” she pleaded. “Something beautiful and full of monsters.”
“Beautiful and full of monsters?”
“All the best stories are”
Pretty much my only criticism of this book is the romance: I’m not a massive fan of romance in books generally, but I must admit I had a fondness for this one. Whilst reading it I sort of got swept away in it, in the sense of magic and beauty, but upon reflection it was a bit odd and I think it would have made more sense for Lazlo to love his dream above all else, rather than a woman, and for Sarai to love her freedom. I also think some people might have reservations about Taylor’s writing style; it’s dreamy and perhaps a little overdone in places, but personally I found it absorbing and magical.
Strange the Dreamer is a wonderful and strange book that I absolutely recommend.