Book Review: Dreams of Gods & Monsters

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Book Review # 27: Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone # 3) by Laini Taylor
Copy: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 613
Date Published: April 8, 2014
Publisher: Little, Brown, & Company
Rating: 5/5 stars

By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her, if there can even be a future for the chimaera in war-ravaged Eretz. Common enemy, common cause.

When Jael’s brutal seraph army trespasses into the human world, the unthinkable becomes essential, and Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people.

And, perhaps, for themselves. Toward a new way of living, and maybe even love.

But there are bigger threats than Jael in the offing. A vicious queen is hunting Akiva, and, in the skies of Eretz … something is happening. Massive stains are spreading like bruises from horizon to horizon; the great winged stormhunters are gathering as if summoned, ceaselessly circling, and a deep sense of wrong pervades the world.

What power can bruise the sky?

From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy.

At the very barriers of space and time, what do gods and monsters dream of? And does anything else matter?

I need more than a gavriel to spin coherent sentences after finishing one hell of an awesome series. I don’t even think you can call this a review. It’s more like a futile attempt to express the effects of a week filled with varying degrees of mental and emotional spasms.

It’s difficult to give a satisfying ending to a series that has so much hype, but it doesn’t come as a surprise that Laini Taylor managed to do just this, and more. Just when I thought nothing could beat Days of Blood & Starlight, here comes the third installment, gleaming with more revelations, more battles, and more cunning orchestrations, all of which left me pining for more, until more came, and it was over. This whole thing is a scam! – an inconceivable, intelligent, ingenious scam.

I don’t think I even have to elaborate how perfect Taylor’s writing is. I did find some words difficult to digest, but that’s nothing a dictionary couldn’t fix. Was it pretentious? nonsense. It has everything – humor, descriptiveness, urgency, magic – eve-ry-thing.

As if there was no limit to the number of characters this series is capable of housing, the third book introduces yet another cast of characters. It was not a struggle to read about any of the characters. Despite the shifting POVs, each character was able to give justice to his/her designated spotlight.

It’s even more amazing how Taylor was able to evoke whatever emotion was necessary through her characters. It delighted me to read about Zuzana and Mik’s banters. It killed me to learn about tragic and unforeseen consequences, and oh wow have I finally been sold to the Kaoru-Akiva romance! I suspect the cause to be the lack of romantic encounters in the second book.

The beginning confused me, as did the appearance of Eliza and the Stelians, but I was confident in Taylor’s skills, and I knew that I would eventually arrive at a perfectly weaved ending. And I did godstars, I did.

I can’t brag about anything I have not yet bragged about since I started reading this trilogy, except for the twists. I really thought the second book maxed out every existing revelation there is, leaving the third book to compromise with leftovers, but that was not the case. The third book is a plethora of twists, from beginning to end. It is, one can say, a tangible extension of Taylor’s magnificent imagination.

This book gave my heart this habit of stopping and restarting, and I have never felt so thrilled. It made me feel heartbreak, hopelessness, and dread. It made me ask the heavens what in the world Taylor could possibly pull after all these, but when I start to think that all hope is lost, Taylor forces a new revelation into my poor brain, as if it still had the capacity to accommodate surprises.

Reading this book left me with no questions to ask except “How Laini Taylor? How could you possibly conjure this much of a brilliant mess? Are you scheming anything else, because I hope to the stars you are. I would buy anything you’re scheming.”

The verdict: This third book is a standout. It’s a striking conclusion to an excellent trilogy. I am running out of adjectives, but I’m telling you now, this book will take your breath away. It will make you love and hate Eretz, Loramendi, Prague, and Astrae. Whatever world you find yourself in, I advise you to just enjoy the words, and take them all in. Everything is worth it. This book is worth it.

I will stop here. I don’t think you’ll be able to tolerate any more verbal madness, but let me just end with two takeaways. This book is going to my loved shelf. This series is the first fantasy series I’ve read, and it sent me into an irreversible state of hysteria (well, maybe for a week or so). Read this book. It is phenomenal.

Favorite Quotes from Dreams of Gods & Monsters

“You are a conniving, deceitful hussy. I stand in awe.”
“You’re sitting.”
“I sit in awe.”

“We’re playing Three Wishes,” she told her friend. “Cake, hot bath, soft bed. How about you?”
“World peace,” said Karou.
Zuzana rolled her eyes. “Yes, Saint Karou.”
“Cure for cancer,” Karou went on. “And unicorns for all.”
“Bluh. Nothing ruins Three Wishes like altruism. It has to be something for yourself, and if it doesn’t include food, it’s a lie.”
“I did include food. I said unicorns, didn’t I?”
“Mmm. You’re craving unicorn, are you?” Zuzana’s brow furrowed. “Wait. Do they have those here?”
“Alas, no.”
“They did,” said Mik. “But Karou ate them all.”
“I am a voracious unicorn predator.”

How could you tell if your instincts were just hope in disguise, and if your hope was really desperation parading as possibility?

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