A young man and woman dream amid violence’s aftermath in this intense series opener.
Twenty-year-old orphaned librarian Lazlo Strange, whose brutish exterior conceals his cleverness, dreams of stories of a lost city. Two hundred years ago, six merciless, magic-wielding Mesarthim landed their seraphim-shaped citadel in the legendary city, blocking its skies and cutting it off from the outside world. Fifteen years ago, the Godslayer Eril-Fane ended their reign of terror with the Carnage, and now the city is known only as Weep. Seeking to restore the skies to Weep, reluctant leader Eril-Fane recruits scientists from the world beyond Weep—and bemusedly welcomes Lazlo—to move the allegedly abandoned citadel. But the long-silent structure instead holds five surviving godspawn, gifted offspring of captured humans and cruel gods, equally traumatized by the massacre. Red-haired, blue-skinned 17-year-old Sarai is a dreamer like Lazlo but fears nightmares even as she inflicts them on the citizens below. Besides literal ghosts, Weep is also haunted by loss—lost memories, lost history, and lost half-blood children. Taylor’s lengthy, mesmerizing epic offers an exotic Middle Eastern–esque world with invented words, biology, and mythology, populated by near-humans and strange creatures. The plot (endlessly dilated by dream sequences) is split between the lovers and then again among other narrators, rendered in delirious and sensuous, if repetitive, language. Weep becomes a laboratory in which Taylor examines slavery, trauma, memory, and appropriation, ending this first installment with a cliffhanger that leaves readers wondering if healing is even remotely possible.
Lovers of intricate worldbuilding and feverish romance will find this enthralling. (Fantasy. 14 & up)