Sarai has lived and breathed nightmares since she was six years old.
She believed she knew every horror and was beyond surprise.
She was wrong.
In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep.
Lazlo faces an unthinkable choice—save the woman he loves, or everyone else?—while Sarai feels more helpless than ever. But is she? Sometimes, only the direst need can teach us our own depths, and Sarai, the Muse of Nightmares, has not yet discovered what she’s capable of.
As humans and godspawn reel in the aftermath of the citadel’s near fall, a new foe shatters their fragile hopes, and the mysteries of the Mesarthim are resurrected: Where did the gods come from, and why? What was done with thousands of children born in the citadel nursery? And most important of all, as forgotten doors are opened and new worlds revealed: Must heroes always slay monsters, or is it possible to save them instead?
I would like to steal Laini Taylor’s mind and live in it. Her books are always so beautifully written and so wholly original, set in worlds completely unlike anything you’ve ever read before. She also understands the complexities of pain and the invisible scars it leaves on us in a way unlike anyone I’ve ever read before.
I’m going to start by talking about the world of this series, because it’s vibrant and unique and somehow both gritty and fairytale-like at the same time? How? But it is. Honestly, this is one of those YA fantasy books that I look at and wonder how it ended up on the YA end of the fantasy shelf because shit can get daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaark in this world. Everything about Skathis just makes me so uncomfortable and angry and icky and he’s literally not even alive anymore. But there’s still so much hope in this world and I love how Laini Taylor wasn’t content to ever paint anyone in simple shades of good and evil. (Except Skathis. But I feel every girl/woman has known a Skathis, so I’m still saying that Laini Taylor is writing living, breathing characters.)
Speaking of characters, where do I begin? My honest favourites were Minya, Nova, Eril-Fane and Azareen. Taylor does such a good job of examining trauma and grief through all of them. This is ultimately a story about how people can — or, sometimes, cannot — put themselves back together after being completely and utterly broken. None of the four characters I’ve mentioned are saints or saviours, but they’re all human, and Laini Taylor does an amazing job of showing that the very fact of their humanity is their hope.
(Give me a moment, I’m flailing about it over here.)
Sarai and Lazlo are adorable as ever (although I could have done with a little more kissing from them, ahthankyouverymuch) and so pure and good and beautiful, even if honestly they’re not as interesting as all my little broken people, but that’s okay. (It’s not their fault good, pure people in love don’t interest me as much as broken, angry ones.)
But what keeps on lingering is the dark spine that this story is built on. Lazlo Strange came to Weep looking for fairytales and instead found a city that had been terrorized by gods who kidnap (mostly) women to rape and impregnate them, force them to give birth and then rob them of their memories and send them back home until a man being tormented by a goddess for her own amusement killed all the gods and the half-human half-god infant children as well because he didn’t want any more gods to terrorize his people as they had for centuries, accidentally traumatizing a small god-child whose parents had never loved her and never would to become consumed by her own hatred for the man who killed her siblings. THIS IS ALL SO FUCKING DARK
But Laini Taylor turns it into a story about hope and healing and love. Romantic love, platonic love, familial love. She fills her story with light. Bravo, Madam Taylor. Bravo.