Saturday, March 18, 2017

Laini the Weaver

Strange the Dreamer, Laini Taylor
This, my most anticipated book of the year, arrived --  a bound proof accompanied by a vial of golden glitter and themed crepe wrapping.  When I reported its arrival to friends and the quickening that was taking place in my chest I was met with the reply, "Tell us how you really feel."  I get it.  I wax on fairly strong when it comes to Laini Taylor.  I think its warranted.  Her latest book elicits familiar beauty-aches.  I savoured every carefully-spun page.  Let the waxing begin;
  • I've read the prologue five times so far.  Wow.  
  • I spent the first fifty or so pages in awe and gratitude, thinking, "I've missed her style.  I've missed her characters.  And oh, the dialogue!"  I breathlessly thumbed through the remaining pages more than once thinking, "How can she maintain this caliber...for all this!?"  Awe and gratitude, awe and gratitude.  What a beautiful retreat this book is.  Though loaded with figurative language, it never feels a burden to read -- instead, it's this decadent treat I can't believe is mine for the consuming.  (And for the record, the writing stays strong to the end, although I would argue the first half is a notch above the second.)
  • I loved the central character so quickly.  When I met briefly with Laini in Auckland during DOGAM's promotional circuit she told me: "Every character deserves a great entrance."  She went on to explain that when we meet a character for the first time in a story that character deserves to be shown in his/her element, allowing him/her to shine.  She gave some examples, and I've read differently since (not just her books, but all books!).  I'll take a moment sometimes to internally remark, "Now that's a great entrance."  This book's protag has a great entrance.  I desperately wanted his dreams to be realised and I was overcome with enthusiasm knowing I was in such good hands -- a worthy arc was sure.
  • The rest of the characters rarely proved to neither be wholly bad or good -- something Laini's already proven swell at.  Even those we love to hate and the archetypal heroes evoke moments of contrary sympathy.
  • This felt epic within 20 pages (perhaps by the end of chapter 2, if you're a cynic).  I felt like I was on the cusp of a truly grand tale very early.  I was right.  There are quiet reprieves that remind me of Frodo and Gandalf and sweeping action scenes that resemble Greek epics (or modern adaptations of ancient Norse or other god stories).
  • There are references to sexual violence and there is some moderate steaminess (mostly kissing and longing to be physical although sex is alluded to having taken place or being likely).  
Overall:  I'm already a fan.  You get it.  But if you, like me, are also eagerly awaiting a chance to return into a rich world with layered characters and intelligent dialogue, you can rest easy all will be delivered here.  If you are yet to sample Laini Taylor's writing for one reason or another, this would be an excellent place to start.  Pre-order your copy now.  On sale 28 March 2017.

Watch this space: I'll soon be posting my interview with Laini about this bombshell of a book!


Review copy received from Hachette.
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