Thank goodness for getting into a series late, because I didn’t have to wait at all between books! There won’t be spoilers for this second book here, but there might be some for its predecessor Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor, so if you haven’t read that, proceed with caution (unless you don’t care, then proceed recklessly, I guess).
Picking up right where Strange the Dreamer left off, Minya has taken control of Sarai, and by extension Lazlo. The citadel has undergone an irrevocable change, and Weep might never be the same. Now, as humans and godspawn alike grapple with what has happened, old questions and new foes arise. Sarai and Lazlo wonder, where did the gods come from? Where have the other godspawn gone? And can they—or should they—stop those on the hateful path for vengeance?
I loved getting to see Sarai’s evolution in this. So much rests on her shoulders, and watching her powers change and her confidence grow is wonderful. Lazlo continues to be fantastic, as do Feral, Ruby, and Sparrow. Minya gets a lot of backstory and development, which is moving, painful, important, and well handled by Taylor. Eril-Fane and Azareen’s relationship is explored more, too, which I like, but my favorite side plot was that of Thyon Nero’s. The once pompous rich boy gets lessons in humility and gains perspective on his life. I went from being rather indifferent to him to really liking him, and wanted more of him (and Ruza, his friend/perhaps-something-more-eventually). I’m glad he got a chance to grow.
The new characters were a surprise, but Taylor weaves their story into the existing plot skillfully. Through the revelation of their experiences and struggles, we understand more how the events in Weep occurred. The backstory of the gods becomes increasingly clear—and devastating—throughout this novel. The villainy of the god Skathis in particular comes into full relief here, and these scenes were some of the most darkly fascinating of the entire story.
However, as intriguing as all this was, and as intense as some of the action scenes were, I found the resolution to be a bit rushed. Everything wraps up in only a couple chapters, with surprisingly little tragedy, considering the circumstances. Furthermore, some of the lore explored wasn’t as interesting as I would have expected; I feel it could have been more fleshed out. I do like the ending overall, though, and considering it appears that Taylor might return to this universe one day, I can’t complain too much.
In the end, while I didn’t enjoy Muse as much as Dreamer, it’s still an excellent book. The old characters evolve in brilliant ways, the new characters add to this rich world, and the plot is engrossing. Taylor showcases her talent well here, though this ending struck me as rushed and a little convenient. Overall, though, this is an admirable conclusion to an impressive duology.
Overall rating: 8.4/10