For the last couple of weeks, cruel person that I am, I’ve more or less banned myself from reading. Ivory Terrors needed finishing, and then more recently, I needed to prepare for the launch – May 1st, this coming Thursday, in case anyone is in danger of forgetting. It’s surprising how much time doing the final read-through and formatting, requesting reviews, and organising a blog tour takes up. When I’m actually writing, other people’s books inspire and motivate me. When I just need to get my head down and get everything perfected and organised, they risk getting in the way. I decided I needed my imagination firmly inside The Cavaliers, and not in someone else’s world.
This self-imposed denial was made rather easier by the fact that my beloved Kindle broke a month or two ago. It’s much simpler to resist the lure of an intriguing novel when getting it involves either leaving the house or waiting a few days for it to be delivered.
But then, my well-intentioned plans were thwarted. Because I realised that Dreams of Gods and Monsters (Daughter of Smoke and Bone No.3) was going to be released on 16th April. And having loved the first two books in the series, and having been waiting for it for ages, and having considered it to be my second most eagerly anticipated book of the year (No. 1 is Ruin is Rising), there was simply no way I wasn’t going to buy it on release day. Conveniently, release day pretty much coincided with the long Easter weekend, so I thought I’d be justified in losing myself in a book. And purchasing myself a shiny new Kindle Paperwhite.
The review is below. In short, it was good, which is lucky, as it’s so long that reading it took up a good proportion of that weekend!
DREAMS OF GODS AND MONSTERS- LAINI TAYLOR
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?
THE REVIEW – 4 STARS
I hugely enjoyed the first two books in this trilogy. If you’re reading this review, I bet you did too, and I bet nothing I could say could put you off buying it. I absolutely couldn’t wait to read it, and on the whole, this final book doesn’t disappoint.
All the old characters make a return, along with some interesting new ones, and both the war-focussed and the romantic plotlines are satisfyingly resolved. This is an extremely long book (I read it on my kindle, but the hardcopy must be around 600 pages), but between the intriguing plot, engaging characters, and strong writing style, it never dragged – though I found it to be slightly less of a page-turner than the previous instalment.
This series has always trod a strange line between YA paranormal romance/urban fantasy, and the sort of full-blown high fantasy that George R Martin would be proud of.For me, the first book fell more into the former category, especially towards the end, while the second book prioritised war and history over forbidden love. This instalment falls somewhere in-between, combining scenes of relatively normal life on earth with full-scale battles in another world.
I enjoy both of those genres, but I prefer this series when it focusses on the latter, and gives the reader strange creatures and conspiracies in other worlds rather than concentrating on the romance between an angel and a (more or less) human girl. For some reason, the relationship between Karou and Akiva doesn’t do much for me. He doesn’t capture my imagination, and they never seem to have much chemistry. Things were better in Book Two, when there was real tension and distance between them and I started to warm to their story, but here, the author seemed to be manufacturing reasons to keep them apart, and it didn’t really capture my imagination. It’s odd, because the relationship between the two supporting characters, Mik and Zuzana, is always both touching and funny, and a new cross-species love affair that sprung up in this book really touched me too.
The more fantastical side of things continued to be very well done. We get more history, more folklore and more of the ongoing war between chimera and angels, along with lots of internal conflicts within the two sides. We finally get to see the Stelians, a different race of angels with a totally different culture and history and different powers. There are all sorts of revelations and drama. With the new ruler of the angels “off-screen” for 95% of the time and the White Wolf dead, it sometimes felt like we were lacking an immediately loathable villain. The latter really made the second book for me, so though I couldn’t regret his well-deserved death, I did miss his effect on the plot. That said, Ziri’s attempts to portray him to keep the army under control and the internal struggles it causes him were some of the highlights of the book. Generally, I really couldn’t fault the fantasy side of things.
From reading some other reviews, I suspect I’m in a minority here, but one of my very favourite aspects was the completely new plot involving a genetics PHD student who has terrifying, literally heart-stopping dreams about the end of the world, in which the apocalypse is her fault, and who is hiding some initially undisclosed secret about herself and her family. The “what on earth is going on here” aspect of this reminded me of the sense of mystery I loved so much in the first book, when you didn’t know why Karou was collecting teeth for monsters. And when the answers were finally revealed, the backstory and revelations it led to were amazing.
Overall, not quite a perfect book, due mainly to the sometimes lacklustre romance, but a really fantastic one all the same, and absolutely worth a read. A fitting end to a great series.