Though Strange the Dreamer is delight and sweetness and mystery, Muse of Nightmares is a different story altogether. It is dark and solemn and so, so heavy. Where Strange the Dreamer hinted at horror, Muse of Nightmares brings that out to the forefront. The book leaves a bitter taste, but not for lack of quality or investment. It’s just the nature of the story Laini Taylor is telling.
Sarai is dead, now a ghost under Minya’s control. This changes everything. Instead of looking in fear at Weep, those around Minya hope to save it.
This book went in many unexpected ways.
First, there was the introduction of the Kora and Nova storyline. It was fascinating, but oh so irrelevant. Until it wasn’t.
Then there was a focus on Lazlo’s companions from way back on the journey to Weep.
But most surprisingly of all, this book was focused on trauma. What did Minya experience before saving Sarai and the others? What did Eril-Fane and Azareen suffer at the citadel? And, most grimly of all, in what ways did Kora and Nova break and suffer at the hands of the ultimate, fortunately dead, villain?
Muse of Nightmares takes the trauma, the tragedy, the hopeless pasts, hinted at in the first title. Here it becomes the forefront. But that’s also what makes the book so important. I felt grim and heavy while reading it, but with that feeling, could also find hope. The book made me feel something unlike anything I’ve ever felt from a book before.
If your past is marked by something horrible, this book may be tough to read. It may be impossible to read. But if you can read it, there is good that can come of it. Darkness may be overwhelming, but after that there is still hope of receiving light.