Lazlo Strange is a foundling, raised by monks, but most at home in the library where he spends his time learning about a mysterious city called Weep. Its real name has been lost, a mystery that captivates Strange. When the opportunity comes to join the party tasked with liberating Weep, he jumps at the chance and finds himself thrust into a world of dead gods, haunted men, and a blue-skinned girl he sees in his dreams.
It is a tricky thing to pull off a new fairy tale as the traditional ones are so ingrained in our culture, but that is the feat that Laini Taylor pulls off with Strange The Dreamer. It is impossible not to get drawn into the tale of her two young people seeking to find their place in societies that would isolate them. Their plight is the heart of the story, embedded in a mesmeric environment.
Taylor draws on all kinds of existing myths and legends, but spins them into her own, brand new landscape. Storytelling is a huge part of this. Lazlo is obsessed with the fairy tales of his land and those that could provide more information about Weep. Later, his dreams become another way in which he can write and shape his world.
Outside of dreams, the world she creates is so rich you can practically smell the plums that fall to the ground from the Gods’ Citadel in the skies. It carries a keen sense of the history too in the battle-worn older generation that seek to take back Weep from the shadow it lives under. Each character is well drawn; their quirks and aims apparent even in the smallest of appearances.
The first part of a duology, Strange The Dreamer is a captivating first instalment, one that pulls you into its dreaming world and makes it hard to leave.