Thursday, May 29, 2014

Dreams of Gods and Monsters, by Laini Taylor

This trilogy is up there with my favourite all-time fantasies. It's that good. Zuzanna and Mik—Best. Sidekicks. Ever. They made the trilogy for me.

I confess I was a little hesitant to reread Days of Blood and Starlight (it's been long enough that I knew I needed to reread before starting the third book). It was so bleak, so violent. But then I started it, and there was Zuzanna, fierce and funny and loyal, planning to drop a pee-balloon on Karou's ex-boyfriend, and I knew I was in good hands.

DBS is better on a reread: I've gotten over the shock of all those awful things that happen, and I can appreciate the writing and the characters and the humour and the words, all those gorgeous words. And then it was wonderful to be able to dive right into Dreams of Gods and Monsters.

It didn't disappoint. Look at some of the chapter titles (Taylor is awesome at chapter titles!):

Nightmare ice cream
Bruise the sky
Tilt to panic
Breeds of silence
Hope, dying unsurprised
A candle flame, extinguished by a scream
Cue apocalypse
Pie and dandelions

It's an epic story, and it gets more epic: new characters and settings are introduced, which could be disconcerting in the third book of a trilogy, but they tie in nicely to hints and threads that have been there all along. Characters develop in intense, suspenseful and satisfying ways. There are lots of fist-pumping "yes!" moments, and many great Zuzanna quotes. The ending is not at all what I was expecting (I might write a spoilery review on Goodreads just to get all my feelings out of my system), but it worked, it was awesome, we definitely get our payoff.

I'm kind of assuming that if you're reading this review, you've already read the first two and don't need any explanation of what the books are all about (or that you've given up on me and gone to Goodreads for a synopsis). Laini Taylor's fantasy doesn't fit easily into categories; it's unlike anything else I've ever read. Seraphim and chimaera in a parallel world called Eretz, locked into an endless war of genocide and vengeance, and the only one who can stop them is a blue-haired, human-looking girl whose name means hope. (And the smoking hot angel who loves her hopelessly. Yeah, there's more than a bit of unrequited passion that stokes the pages, but Taylor is really, really good at it, so, yeah, it's pretty good.) Original, fast-paced and intense, and beautifully written.

Having just returned from Provence, I can compare DGM with the strawberry tart that was the best thing I'd ever tasted in my life: I thought I knew what a strawberry tart would taste like, but these strawberries were fresh and sweet and bursting with complex strawberry flavours, and the pastry was so light, so buttery (how can something be light and buttery at the same time???) so perfectly contrasted to the juiciness of the berries, and the custard was silky and creamy, and the whole thing made my brain explode because it didn't have enough receptors to adequately handle the experience. Oh! I want to go back!


  1. First off--wow, what a cover! I'm always on the lookout for a good fantasy, so I appreciate the recommend. Thanks, and happy MMGM!

    1. I love Laini Taylor. If you want to try her out without committing to a whole trilogy, she has a collection of three novellas called Lips Touch Three TImes. She has such lush prose and such original ideas.