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Strange the Dreamer

[A quick note: This is a duology. Iโ€™ve had special editions from LitJoy Crate that have some art and also author notes in the margins which made for a super enhanced reading experience. I loved getting to read some of the authorโ€™s insight into why she wrote things a certain way. That was so cool! These editions are gorgeous!]

โ€œ๐“๐ก๐ž ๐๐ซ๐ž๐š๐ฆ ๐œ๐ก๐จ๐จ๐ฌ๐ž๐ฌ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐๐ซ๐ž๐š๐ฆ๐ž๐ซ, ๐ง๐จ๐ญ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐จ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐ซ ๐ฐ๐š๐ฒ ๐š๐ซ๐จ๐ฎ๐ง๐.โ€ โ€”Lani Taylor

For two centuries, the mysterious city of Weep has been lost to the world. Lazlo Strange is obsessed with finding it. While finding Weep might be his dream, what he discovers there surpasses it. Day by day, the tragic story of Weep unfolds, and Lazlo, it turns out, is right at the heart of it.

If I could give this a million stars, I would! I simply LOVED it. Every minute. Every page. Everything.

Beautiful writing, strong world building, excellent characters and utterly immersive! Iโ€™m mad at myself for putting it off. Itโ€™s well worth all the hype (and more). I read it as a buddy read and we both finished it way ahead of schedule. I simply COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN.

This story centers around tragedy. It was heartbreaking to discover everything that happened in Weep, to the people there, both in the city and in the citadel. That tragedy shaped them, forced them to do monstrous things, forced them to make difficult decisions then live with those decisions. It also created deeply morally grey characters. In fact, it was hard to determine who the real villain was until the very end. And that villain? You STILL feel something for them, for what they went through, what they gave to become that way.

โ€œ๐ˆ๐ญ ๐ฐ๐š๐ฌ ๐ข๐ฆ๐ฉ๐จ๐ฌ๐ฌ๐ข๐›๐ฅ๐ž, ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐œ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ๐ฌ๐ž. ๐๐ฎ๐ญ ๐ฐ๐ก๐ž๐ง ๐๐ข๐ ๐ญ๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐ž๐ฏ๐ž๐ซ ๐ฌ๐ญ๐จ๐ฉ ๐š๐ง๐ฒ ๐๐ซ๐ž๐š๐ฆ๐ž๐ซ ๐Ÿ๐ซ๐จ๐ฆ ๐๐ซ๐ž๐š๐ฆ๐ข๐ง๐ .โ€ โ€”Lani Taylor

There were certain things about this book that set it apart. The characters, especially. I adored Lazlo. He was genuinely good hearted, sweet, and REAL. His goodness helped balance Sarai, who had a questionable past. But itโ€™s Saraiโ€™s growth that truly endears her to me. She might have done awful things, but her desire to be better and change gives her the depth of a beloved character.

Then you have the cast of secondary characters, aforementioned as being morally grey, like Minya and Eril-Fane. Beyond that, the people of Weep, who hold very valid prejudice towards the blue-skinned โ€œgodspawn.โ€ You want to be angry with them for being close-minded, but when you hear what the gods did to them, how AWFUL and HEARTBREAKING their lives were, you canโ€™t help but take sides.

โ€œ๐‡๐ž ๐ฅ๐จ๐จ๐ค๐ž๐ ๐ก๐ข๐ฆ ๐ซ๐ข๐ ๐ก๐ญ ๐ข๐ง ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ž๐ฒ๐ž๐ฌ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ฌ๐š๐ฐ ๐š ๐ฆ๐š๐ง ๐ฐ๐ก๐จ ๐ฐ๐š๐ฌ ๐ ๐ซ๐ž๐š๐ญ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ ๐จ๐จ๐ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ก๐ฎ๐ฆ๐š๐ง, ๐ฐ๐ก๐จ ๐ก๐š๐ ๐๐จ๐ง๐ž ๐ž๐ฑ๐ญ๐ซ๐š๐จ๐ซ๐๐ข๐ง๐š๐ซ๐ฒ ๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ง๐ ๐ฌ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ญ๐ž๐ซ๐ซ๐ข๐›๐ฅ๐ž ๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ง๐ ๐ฌ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐›๐ž๐ž๐ง ๐›๐ซ๐จ๐ค๐ž๐ง ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ซ๐ž๐š๐ฌ๐ฌ๐ž๐ฆ๐›๐ฅ๐ž๐ ๐š๐ฌ ๐š ๐ฌ๐ก๐ž๐ฅ๐ฅ, ๐จ๐ง๐ฅ๐ฒ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐ง ๐ญ๐จ ๐๐จ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐›๐ซ๐š๐ฏ๐ž๐ฌ๐ญ ๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ง๐  ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐š๐ฅ๐ฅ: ๐‡๐ž ๐ก๐š๐ ๐ค๐ž๐ฉ๐ญ ๐จ๐ง ๐ฅ๐ข๐ฏ๐ข๐ง๐ , ๐ญ๐ก๐จ๐ฎ๐ ๐ก ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐ซ๐ž ๐š๐ซ๐ž ๐ž๐š๐ฌ๐ข๐ž๐ซ ๐ฉ๐š๐ญ๐ก๐ฌ ๐ญ๐จ ๐ญ๐š๐ค๐ž.โ€ โ€”Lani Taylor

This book will leave you SO TORN. It creates questions. It helps you understand that nothing is black and white. Itโ€™s just so freaking good!!!

As for the world building, it was gorgeous (paired with luscious writing!). Most of the story is set in a desert type city, but parts happen in dreams too. I donโ€™t normally like dreams in books. Actually, I kind of hate them, but Lani used a different sort of dream and it worked great! I loved the dreams, actually. I loved seeing Lazlo and Sarai come together, get to know each other, and fall in love, all inside their dreams. It was sweetโ€ฆspecial, even. And oh, so unique!

I will warn you, the ending was HEARTBREAKING. I cried. Itโ€™s been a long time since Iโ€™ve cried at the end of a book. Thatโ€™s not to say the ending was entirely sad. It ended in such a way that promises (hopefully!!!) a wild ride for the second book with (also, hopefully!!!) a happy ending. Iโ€™m holding my breath, crossing my fingers and toes for it. Because, whew! That ending WRECKED me. It was beautiful, yes, butโ€ฆgosh. I need to recover!

This was my first Lani Tailor book and WOW. Iโ€™m going to read all of her books now because sheโ€™s going on my new favorite author list. I canโ€™t wait to dive into the second book.

๐Œ๐˜๐‘๐€๐“๐ˆ๐๐†: ๐Ÿ“/๐Ÿ“โญ๏ธ


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