Muse of Nightmares

Contains spoilers for Strange The Dreamer. Read my review here.
Muse of Nightmares
Strange the Dreamer Book Two
Written by Laini Taylor
Fantasy, Magic, Romance
Publishing October 2nd 2018
432 Pages
Thank you to Hachette Australia
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★★★★☆
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?

Love and hate, revenge and redemption, destruction and salvation all clash in this gorgeous sequel to the New York Times bestseller, Strange the Dreamer.
Lazlo Strange perches high above the city in the Citadel where the body of Sarai lies, her soul consumed by the malevolent, warmongering Minya and tethered to the Unseen City. The citadel continues to conceal the history of the Mesarthim and their offspring, the humans of the metropolis enduring captivity and enforced to procreate. Thousands of Mesarthim were slain throughout the Citadel, an eternally preserved mausoleum above the City of Weep.

Siblings Novali and Korako Vasa are interesting characters and indispensable to the narrative. The Mesarthim journeyed provinces and communities pursuing exceptional young individuals for servitude. Novali and Korako are the offspring of Nyoka, a Mesarthim combatant. Korako is a superior being, collared and separated from her sister. The nonlinear narratives converge spectacularly in an abundance of breathtaking revelations.

Lazlo Strange is Mesarthim, orphaned and his identity concealed and now feeling a sense of acceptance and belonging. Lazlo, a child of thousands conceived within the Citadel, created by coercion and a nonconsensual relationship. The abuse is addressed and condemned within the narrative, reiterating the importance of consent. Sarai is tethered to Minya and the Citadel and although her physical body is cremated, her spirit remains corporeal and able to interact with her environment. Including Lazlo. Lazlo and Sarai continue their relationship, able to explore one another within the safety of Lazlo's conscious, lucid dreaming.

The blue of her skin, the silver stars and moon. She was the sky. Heavy, bewitched, he leaned forward and brushed his lips over a star.

An adult captured within perpetual juniority, Minya is an intriguing character and often misunderstood. A tender child as the Citadel was decimated by the Godslayer Eril Fane, Minya is resolved to protect her family, the surviving offspring of the Mesarthim and is acrimoniously vengeful. Although appearing heinous, Minya is a causality of her environment and has nurtured the Godspawn children since infancy. Throughout the narration, Muse of Nightmares touches upon learning from our ancestral transgressions, resolution beginning when we absolve others. Warmongering is not our only recourse. 
Minya's conviction was absolute. The humans has slain her kind. She had stood in the passage and heard the screams dwindle, baby by baby, until silence has reigned. 

Laini Taylor is a remarkable author, weaving imaginative and atmospheric narratives. The lyricism is breathtaking, intricate and incredibly enchanting, transcending fantasy literature. Absolutely exceptional.

I anticipate the beginning of a new adventure.

Whisper of the Tide

Check out my review for Song of the Current
Whisper of the Tide
Song of the Current Book Two
Written by Sarah Tolcser
Fantasy, Adventure, Romance
416 Pages
Published July 2018
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia
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★★★★★
Caro Oresteia spent her life waiting to be called by the river god, as those in her family had been for generations. But when she’s swept away on an adventure to save the Akhaian royal prince, Markos, her destiny is sealed by the sea god instead.

For now, Caro is landlocked, helping Markos reclaim his throne after nearly his entire family was assassinated in a political coup. Without any financial or military support, Markos is desperate for allies, and Caro has fought off more than one attempt on his life. When a powerful Archon offers his army in exchange for Markos’s marriage to his daughter, Caro must choose.

Her love for Markos, or the fate of Akhaia? And more importantly: How much is she willing to risk to defy the sea god’s wishes and chart her own course?

With shipwrecks, lost treasure, old and new enemies, dark magic, and breathtaking romance, Sarah Tolcser weaves another epic story about chasing your fate.
Seventeen year old Caroline Oresteia was a privateer on board the Cormorant, alongside her father, a humbled Wherryman, now evading capture for her thievery upon the everglades of Kynthessa. Caroline is a tenacious young woman, her fortitude is inspiring. Altruistically, she is now assisting Markos as he attempts to converge military and political allies. Markos Andela is the legitimate Emparch of Akhaia, his family slain by Konto Theucinian and displaced from his kingdom.

Mitigation emerges from Lord Pherenekian, Archon of Eryth. A proposal of a fifteen thousand person artillery in exchange for the political union of Markos and his daughter Agnes Pherenekian, an unconventional young woman interested in academics and potential Emparchess. Quite the conundrum for Caroline, conflicted between her fondness for the Prince and a Kingdom in disarray.

Whisper of the Tide is a maritime adventure of resilience and endurance. Generations of Oresteria Wherrymen have been guided by the River God, speaking the language of the Everglades. Except for Caroline, claimed by the Sea Goddess and destined for adventure. The relationship between Caroline and Markos is convoluted and apprehensive, Caroline placing her aspirations aside to preserve the revolution and subjugate Konto Theucinian, while desperately yearning for the wild blue yonder.

A ship was not meant to sit at anchor in the harbor, and neither was I.

The secondary characters are meticulously created, including a former adversary. Cousin and apprentice Shadowman Kenté. Merchant manager Docia Argyrus. Opportunist Sophronia Hypatos. Dido Brilliante the Pirate Queen and capitalist merchant Tamaré Bollard. Distinctly tenacious women who have challenged gender equality and celebrated the female achievement.

Sarah Tolcser has created an enchanting and captivating narrative, an entertaining adventure for the marauder at heart. Avast ye scalawags and buccaneers, all hands ahoy!
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