Friday, March 1, 2019

Book Review: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

This is better than Harry Potter.

It's imaginative, epic, well-paced, romantic, and psychologically realistic about loss and isolation as well as longing and fulfillment. It's got alchemy (that feels like authentic Medieval alchemy), expert foreshadowing, likeable characters with pressing burdens that make them all the more likeable, and a philosophy where the old stories hide the highest truths. Not to mention it's got the best twist of an ending since the end of the third season of Star Trek: The Next Generation (yes, I realize that was 1990).

Even though it's got complexity and bitterness -- it is a story about a misfit, orphaned librarian, a God-slayer, and a cloistered royal family of teens -- in the end analysis it's intensely sweet.

Only the secondary characters fall short of the rest of this world's exquisite detail and I-didn't-expect-that-but-yes-it-had-to-be-that-way surprises. Against the backdrop of excellence they stand a bit dim, like sunspots, and pull this down from five stars. My comparison to Harry Potter also falters in audience: this one's decidedly narrower, for older teens and up, so it's not exactly putting the "Y" in YA lit.

But my goodness, what a story.

I won't say anything else except to note that there is a sequel, for which I scrupulously avoided all information except the title, and I wish I had avoided that. Want to avoid spoilers from the sequel? Go read this now.

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