This review does not contain spoilers.
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.
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.
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 theatre that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy.
I’m just going to come right out and say it: this book was a frustrating read. The first 187 pages detail what happens between the last chapter and the epilogue of Days of Blood and Starlight, which means that you already know that things are relatively okay and anything that happens in the first chunk of the book is basically just filler. It’s good filler. But it does make you feel as though you’re stuck in limbo, waiting for the third book to start and wondering why on Earth it’s taking so long.
Most of the darkness and horror from Days of Blood and Starlight was stifled and set aside to focus more on the blossoming romances of various characters. There are countless point of view changes sometimes backtracking or repeating events from the last point of view so that you will know exactly what every character is thinking about one moment. And, despite having such detailed point of views, huge pieces of information and plot are deliberately withheld so that when it finally comes time for one of the ‘big reveals’ you can sit there and go, ‘Wait. What?’
The world of Eretz is a rich one. Laini Taylor has clearly dedicated herself to some complex world-building and, instead of letting it softly enhance the story, she has possibly dumped too much of it in the readers’ laps. There are almost three distinct (and much smaller) books in Dreams of Gods and Monsters: everything before page 187; dealing with seraphim on Earth; and everything that happens with the Stelians, which is basically a super long epilogue in disguise.
The Stelian backstory is complicated and I just feel like when things were finally introduced it was maybe too late to be throwing around a bunch of seraphic terms and trying to condense the entire history of a race into a little over 100 pages while still trying to make it seem like a mysterious and unknowable thing. As a result, most of the events with the Stelians became confusing and the ending to the book felt long overdue.
To her credit, Laini Taylor does have a beautiful way with words and, for the most part, her characters maintain an individuality from one another that leaves a lasting imprint in the minds of the readers. Her world-building is so comprehensive as to be approaching the realm of Tolkien-esque, even if the exposition is not always the most efficient.
Maybe I will eventually reread this trilogy and be happier with the conclusion the second time round. Maybe it’s something that just takes getting used to. But, the first time reading it, Dreams of Gods and Monsters manages to give the impression of being both too slow and too rushed, which is an altogether unsettling end to a trilogy.