Bittersweet parting: "Dreams of Gods & Monsters" by Laini Taylor

Release date: April 8, 2014

Pages: 613

Publisher: Little, Brown

Genre/category: Young Adult, Fantasy

Rating: ★★★★

I've hidden the description and my review after the jump to avoid spoilers. Onward!

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?

How do you turn a five-star reading experience into an almost three-star one for me? By leaving enough material for a fourth book on the table when it's the end of the series.

My God, was I living while reading this book. What an absolute thrill. Taylor does such a good job of creating suspense from chapter to chapter. From the introduction of mysterious new characters to the ominous little foreshadowing sprinkled throughout, everything about this book built tension in a masterful way. And the justice that was dealt in this book was awesome. Every vile character got their comeuppance.

The book seamlessly moved between the drama happening on Earth and Eretz, and expanded each of these worlds to introduce new settings and higher stakes. Plot threads from the previous two books were satisfyingly tied up — for the most part. And, in an unexpected twist, this is probably the most romantic entry in the trilogy. It seems everyone pairs up or solidifies their commitments, with the brutality of the war emphasizing the significance of bonds and the running theme of "cake for later" — hopes for pleasures to come when the worlds were a better place. I was screaming over the romantic developments. So cute. So satisfying. I keep using that word because satisfaction was a recurring feeling while reading this.

Until the end.

My creative writing professor in college noted that my stories were always wrapped up too neatly. What can I say? I love happy endings and hate ambiguity, unless we're talking about moral ambiguity. (I was never one of the people who called the ending of the Harry Potter series "the crapilogue," I was the one sobbing and clapping. Fight me.) But over the years, I've learned to, if not appreciate, at least tolerate open endings and stories that don't spoon feed you the outcome of every decision.

But I am not — AM NOT — sophisticated or mature enough to deal with the ending of this series. Without spoiling it, know that the entire mythology of the trilogy turned out to be just a tiny fraction of a much greater mythos, and Taylor sets you up for epic events that we will never see play out or know the outcome of. I get wanting to leave your readers begging for more, but damn.


My reading of the ending is hopeful. That's for my own sanity. But it just didn't sit well with me, so much so that I tried and failed to find post-trilogy fanfiction that could scratch my itch.

If Laini Taylor wrote a fourth book, I would buy it on the release date and not eat, sleep or pee until I finished reading it. Hell, I'd be happy with a crapilogue.