Muse of Mental Illness Rep // Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor

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Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor
Published October 2nd 2018 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Classified as Fantasy, Romance, & Young Adult
Obtained as Ebook

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 astonishing and heart-stopping sequel to the New York Times bestseller,
Strange the Dreamer.


Content & Trigger Warnings: Abuse, implied rape, death, gory violence, torture, human trafficking, PTSD, and child abuse.

The Writing

I’ve said this before, and I will say it again, but Laini Taylor is a writing GODDESS. The way she writes makes me want to pack up my suitcase and endure the endless hell that is the flight across the Pacific Ocean – all just so I might get the chance to meet this literary legend and bask in her glorious presence. Because that isn’t stalkerish at all, Kat. Maybe if I stood within a five meter radius of her again not stalkerish, some of that immense talent would rub off on me and my dull writing fingers would magically turn to gold.

Actual footage of me flying to meet Laini Taylor.

Okay, I’m being a bit silly here, but you get the idea – Taylor’s writing in Muse of Nightmares is poetry. Her writing is so well-crafted and so heart-wrenchingly beautiful that Muse becomes more than just a story; it becomes a work of art. Each word, each letter, is a paint stroke on a literary canvas, and when you take a step back to admire the painting, you are met with at a Mona Lisa-worthy masterpiece. Here are some examples of her absolutely lyrical wordsmithing:

There was a warmth and energy about him, as though he were twice as alive as the next person, a fire burning in him and furnace doors thrown open so you could feel the flames.

Once upon a time there was a silence that dreamed of becoming a song, and then I found you, and now everything is music.

If those quotes from Muse of Nightmares didn’t make tears melt out of your eye sockets, then you’re lying. 

The Mental Illness Representation

The hero fights. The villain loses. And they all lived happily ever after. The end. That’s so often the story we get in the Fantasy genre. Back in October, I discussed my dissatisfaction with this over on Marie’s blog and complained that the hero is hardly ever mentally affected by their run in with the evil villain. When the clanging of swords ceases and the dust of war settles, we are met with triumph and sparkly rainbows instead of a broken hero who suffers from PTSD. But that is not the case with this book. No, sir.

He had been the plaything of the goddess of despair. Isagol had mangled his emotions, poisoned his faculties for love and trust until they were so tangled with hate and shame that he hardly knew one from the other.

In Muse of Nightmares, Laini Taylor dives headfirst into the trauma of both the vengeful Minya and the famous Godslayer, Eril-Fane, and realistically depicts what death and war can do to a person. There is no smoke and mirrors here to hide the reality and Taylor does not shy away from addressing the elephant in the room. Minya and Eril-Fane are both trapped in blood-stained cages of the past, and no matter what they do, they can’t unlock the gates of their own minds.

She seemed an empty shell—except, that is, that she was rocking. It was ever so slight, her thin, hunched shoulders jerking back and forth. Her lips were moving, shaping the same words over and over in silence, as she lived the same memories she always did, and the same screams echoed forever. Always and forever: the children. Each face was seared into her mind, two versions of them, side by side: alive and terrified next to dead and glassy-eyed, because she had failed to save them.

Although this was utterly heartbreaking to read about, it was real, and I loved that it wasn’t swept under the rug or glossed over. Themes of forgiveness, healing, and redemption were explored and in the end, this aspect of the novel was what left the largest impact on me. Yes, even more than all the feels that are Sarai and Lazlo. It taught me that even in my darkest dungeons, a key can be fastened and the gate unlocked. Hope is never out of reach.

Other Notes

  • The worldbuilding was on point. (Is that even a thing people say anymore? I’ve totally just dated myself here, haven’t I?) HELP! MAYDAY! RED ALERT! I’VE BECOME AN OLD GRANNY WITH NO IDEA WHAT’S COOL AND IT’S A PROBLEM. All dentures aside, the world was expertly developed and an utter joy to experience.
  • GOSH THERE WERE SOME BLUSH INDUCING SCENES IN THIS ONE. Nothing X-rated of course, but definitely a lot more than I’m used to reading. If you have read Daughter of Smoke and Bone, then you would agree with me when I say that Laini Taylor really knows how to heat up a room. There were parts of this book that I could’ve used to cook nikuman (pork buns)  – it got that steamy.
  • Especially at the beginning, the pacing was a bit strange (haha get it?? As in Lazlo Strange?? Okay, I grant you permission to throw rotten fruit at me). For the majority of the book, I felt like there was no action. There wasn’t as much urgency (and a lot more sex – see above) than I would have expected considering the ending of Strange the Dreamer. This is forgivable though because during that lull, we get the chance to dive into Minya’s mind and understand her better.

MIX IT ALL UP AND YOU GET… 4½ WAFFLES!


Have you read Muse of Nightmares? What did you think of it?

Who is an author that you admire?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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33 thoughts on “Muse of Mental Illness Rep // Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor

  1. Laini is a delight in person! I hope you do get to meet her someday. She is nothing at all like I expected. She is so relatable, down to earth, and just humble about her success. I also gave Muse somewhere between 4 and 5 stars. I didn’t love it as much as Strange the Dreamer. I just wanted more Sarai and Lazlo. I felt like they got lost in the Nova of it all. Still an amazing series and I think on a reread I’ll like it more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s SO COOL that you’ve met Laini! I think if I ever actually met an author of a book I’ve read (doesn’t matter who really), I would never recover from the excitement haha. And I agree – Sarai and Lazlo’s story was not as much center stage in this one. There was a lot going on, but I still feel like it worked.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It definitely worked, the prose is beautiful and I will probably read every future book she writes. xD I tend to have problems when big new characters are introduced in book 2 of a series. I had the same qualms with Vicious/Vengeful and Illuminae/Gemina but on rereads I usually like them more.

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  2. Aaaah how I’ve missed you and your posts Kat!!! Your blog is getting more and more beautiful and creative!!!

    I really need to read this book, I hope I could buy it anytime soon!! I’m glad you liked it, amazing review Kat!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely review, Kat! I skimmed over a few sections of this post because I haven’t read the first book (YES I LIVE UNDER A ROCK 😂), but this sequel sounds absolutely amazing! I love the quotes you shared and am so intrigued by the idea of the hero having PTSD and being affected by events of the previous book.!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I plan to read this book in January as I’m not sure I could fit it in December. One thing that always bugs me when reading Laini Taylor’s books is the amount of romance in it :’) Not that it’s bad, but she build this fantastic world and complicated conflict… I feel like I can’t spare any interest for the romance ahaha. I love how this one delves into the mind of the characters, so it’s more towards internal conflict rather than external. I can’t wait to read this, lovely review Kat!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I understand what you mean about the romance. I love the world in this story so much and while the romance was fine, I’m much more interested in the worldbuilding 🙂 And yes, exactly – this book focuses much more on internal conflict. That’s a great way of putting it.

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  5. I love your reviews and your graphics so much, all the time, Kat, you’re just so talented ❤
    I haven't read the first book in the series, so I haven't read your review in details, but I'm so glad you seemed to enjoy this sequel so much! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  6. YOU’RE SO RIGHT KAT, LAINI WRITES LIKE A DREAM. honestly her prose is just so gorgeous, she totally transports you into her worlds with such a flawless transition. i also LOVED the trauma and grief representation that was such a huge theme in the book, we dont get that enough in fantasy 😭😭

    and omg kat your puns always leave me groaning and laughing, plz never stop

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree that we don’t get enough of that sort of representation in fantasy (but that’s probably a given, since I’ve written about it multiple times haha). AND GOSh THANK YOU FOR LOVING MY PUNS. I honestly don’t know why people put up with me sometimes, BUT I’LL TAKE IT

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Ahhh Kat, this is a gorgeous post, and a beautiful review, and I’m so happy you loved this book!! It’s one of my favorite 2018 reads, and thinking about it still makes my heart warm. :’)

    Also, I LOVE YOUR PUNS. And I’ve missed reading your blog so much. ❤ I hope you're doing well, and I can't wait to stalk your posts now that I'm done with exams for the year!! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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