Title: Dreams of Gods and Monsters
Author: Laini Taylor (author website)
Release Date: April 2014 by H&S Fiction
Age Group: Young Adult
A foreign queen is hunting, a fleeing daughter hiding from terrors in the night, and Akiva and Karou, lovers crossed by stars, godstars, moons and mighty rulers alike, fight a desperate battle for a dream that has spanned three lives between them: a dream of a future free from hate. A dream of peace.
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?
If Daughter of Smoke and Bone was a love story, and Days of Blood and Starlight a tragedy, Dreams of Gods and Monsters knits the two together in a conclusion that, while an ending, feels anything but final. Which is satisfying... And not.
In those final pages, Dreams of Gods and Monsters leaves so many questions unanswered; futures and histories left untold... Yet it doesn't feel like a missing dessert, or an 'improper' end. Rather, it feels precisely how I believe its author intended: Dreams of Gods and Monsters ends with beginnings. With life, and possibility, and resurrection. As it should--with hope. It feels the right place to leave Akiva and Karou to their new beginnings. But it doesn't feel an adequate conclusion to the histories it tells. Having turned the final page, I feel as though its characters have more stories to tell--and wonder if Taylor has plans to do so, or is simply teasing with a lingering, poetic ending.
Dreams of Gods and Monsters encompasses so many beloved (and hated) characters, so many versions of their lives, so many threads in Taylor's grand tapestry it's difficult to comment on a single point, play, or page. This story carries a weight, a vastness, to it. While, 'what happens?' seems a fair, if unspecific, question, cover closed on Dreams of Gods and Monsters, I'm at a loss for an answer. Words fail, which seems a tiny irony, for a book weighing in at no less than 600 pages. Yet, 'stuff happened. And love. And cake,' seems to do Taylor's rather splendid work a slight injustice.
Karou and Akiva are thrust front and centre in Dreams of Gods and Monsters, both to the reader, and their people. They assume roles as leaders, far beyond their own comfort, and the responsibility both pulls them together, and apart. We see them even more intimately than before, and they've grown (oh, how they've grown!) since misty Prague, dusty Morocco. But they share their stage. Zuzanna and Mik return, more charming than previously imaginable; Ziri shoulders an incredible burden--the fate of the Chimaera rebellion resting firmly on his shoulders; Liraz, icy-cold half-sister to Akiva, reveals pieces of herself, and even begins to thaw... But what kept me skipping pages ahead, desperate to know more was an enigmatic young woman named Eliza Jones--who has many, many big surprises up her sleeves. Anonymous, hiding Eliza, who finds herself anything but anonymous and hidden by the story's close.
As I've commented, often, before, I believe that, there are great writers, and great storytellers, and is a rare and wonderful joy to find an author who is both. Returning to Eretz, and a slightly more magical Earth than our own, Dreams of Gods and Monsters reaffirms Taylor as both. Between a story that flows like narcotic dream, and prose which dances seductively throughout its pages, the conclusion to the Smoke and Bone trilogy is as beautiful, intoxicating and breathtaking as its predecessors, though seems to lack something satisfying, as though it is the end of a love story, but not a world story.
Goodbyes are hard and, if you are to believe Seraphim warriors' folklore, farewells are bad luck. So it's fitting that it proves a difficult task, farewelling not just Akiva and Karou, but the families they've made for themselves. Perhaps (for me at least) the true measure of a good book is the desire to unread it, more than to re-read it--so as to fall in love and lose oneself in its pages all over again, and how I long to do so here. Eretz may be closed to us all for now, but perhaps like Akiva and Karou, I'll dream an impossible dream and hope that while it's gone, it's only gone for now.
Books in This Series:
- Daughter of Smoke and Bone (September 2011)
- Days of Blood and Starlight (November 2012)
- Dreams of Gods and Monsters (April 2014)