Oh excuse me for a minute while I address my daughter.
Carly, don't even think about reading this book, Yet. It is the first book in a duology and it ends on a cliff-hanger to beat all cliff-hangers. I'll tell you when it is safe to start the series, once the last book in it has been published. You would be so mad at me if I allowed you to pick up this marvelous book knowing how it ends (or doesn't end, as it were.)
There, now I am back. If you happened to read my admonition to my daughter, you will have noted that Strange the Dreamer is the first book in a new series. There is tremendous world-building, colorful (literally) characters, unique plots and twists, and a love story, to boot. The only problem--- it ends on a cliff-hanger. A big one, in fact. Argh! All I have been thinking about for the past few days is wondering how things are going to work out for Lazlo Strange and his love interest. Laini Taylor have you written the second book yet? If so, why don't you just go ahead and publish it right now? That would be really lovely and timely because I want to know what happens next and I want to know NOW!
We meet Strange as a young boy, a foundling. He is raised my monks and is given the surname Strange as a form of identification of his status as an orphan. When he starts work as a junior librarian he has time to research everything about the land of Weep, a land introduced to him through the stories of one of the elderly monks. His whole world view is shaped by Fairy Tales, where, though fiction, a kernel of truth always resides. When a delegation from Weep arrives in his city, he begs to go with them, to discover the reality of a city he has longed for since childhood. What he finds in Weep isn't what he expected.
I listened to Strange the Dreamer as part of my quest to find this year's Printz winner. Even though I am now retired I hope to continue participating in my school's Mock Printz Workshop. This book came to my attention because of all the starred reviews it received. Here are a few things those reviewers had to say about the book:
While a cliff-hanger ending will certainly have readers itching for book two, make no mistake—this is a thing to be savored.---Booklist
While the pace is initially slow, momentum and tension build as love blossoms between two young people from warring factions, mysteries of identity develop, and critical events unfold in dreams...Gorgeously written in language simultaneously dark, lush, and enchanting, the book will leave readers eager for the next. ---Publisher's Weekly
There is a mythological resonance to her tale of gods and mortals in conflict, as well as in Lazlo's character arc from unassuming, obsessed librarian to something much more. ---School Library Journal
And I would be remiss if I didn't mention just how much I appreciated in the characterization of Lazlo as a librarian...a lover of literature and story-telling. Thank you, Ms. Taylor, for this, too!
“He read while he walked. He read while he ate. The other librarians suspected he somehow read while he slept, or perhaps didn't sleep at all.”
“The library knows its own mind...When it steals a boy, we let it keep him.”
My heart has been stolen by both a library (GKHS Library) and a book, Strange the Dreamer.