Dark whimsy takes over with MUSE OF NIGHTMARES book cover!
Laini Taylor wowed readers with creative, lyrical storytelling in Strange The Dreamer, which won a Printz Honor at the ALA’s Youth Media Awards on Monday, but she’s not done with Lazlo’s story quite yet.
After a shocking twist at the end of book one, the journey continues in Muse of Nightmares, which hits bookshelves in the fall.
EW shared the first look at the novel’s gorgeous cover, plus an excerpt featuring portions of chapters 1 and 2. Take a look!
CHAPTER 1. Like Jewels, Like Defiance
Kora and Nova had never seen a Mesarthim, but they knew all about them. Everyone did. They knew about their skin: “blue as sapphires,” said Nova, though they had never seen a sapphire either. “Blue as icebergs,” said Kora. They saw those all the time. They knew that “Mesarthim” meant “Servants,” though these were no common servants. They were the soldier-wizards of the Empire. They could fly, or else they could breathe fire, or read minds, or turn into shadows and back. They came and went through cuts in the sky. They could heal and shapeshift and vanish. They had war gifts and impossible strength and could tell you how you’d die. Not all of these things together, of course, but one gift each, one only, and they didn’t choose them. The gifts were in them, as they were in everyone, waiting—like an ember for air—should one only be so lucky, so blessed, to be chosen.
As Kora’s and Nova’s mother had been chosen on the day, sixteen years ago, that Mesarthim last came to Rieva.
The girls were only babies then, so they didn’t remember the blue-skinned Servants and their gliding metal skyship, and they didn’t remember their mother either, because the Servants took her away and made her one of them, and she never came back.
She used to send them letters from Aqa, the Imperial City, where, she wrote, people weren’t just white or blue, but every color, and the godsmetal palace floated on air, moving from place to place. My dears, said the last letter, which had come eight years ago. I’m shipping Out. I don’t know when I’ll return, but you will certainly be women grown by then. Take care of each other for me, and always remember, whatever anyone tells you: I would have chosen you, if they had let me choose.
I would have chosen you.
In winter, in Rieva, they heated flat stones in the fire to tuck into their sleeping furs at night, though they cooled off fast and were hard under your ribs when you woke. Well, those five words were like heated stones that never lost their warmth or bruised your flesh, and Kora and Nova carried them everywhere. Or perhaps they wore them, like jewels. Like defiance. Someone loves us, their faces said, when they stared down Skoyë, or refused to cringe before their father. It wasn’t much, letters in the place of a mother—and they only had the memory of the letters now, since Skoyë had thrown them in the fire “by accident”—but they had each other too. Kora and Nova: companions, allies. Sisters. They were indivisible, like the lines of a couplet that would lose their meaning out of context. Their names might as well have been one name—Koraandnova—so seldom were they spoken separately, and when they were, they sounded incomplete, like one half of a mussel shell, cracked open and ripped in two. They were each other’s person, each other’s place. They didn’t need magic to read each other’s thoughts, only glances, and their hopes were twins, even if they were not. They stood side by side, braced together against the future. Whatever life might force on them, and however it might fail them, they knew they had each other.
And then the Mesarthim came back.
Laini Taylor also talked to the magazine about the ending of the first novel, which was a surprise even to her!
“I still remember the electric jolt it gave me when I realized that that was going to happen. It felt like I hadn’t really been awake, and suddenly I was. I’d planned something else, but stories have a way of taking on their own life, and I knew I had to do it, or, rather, let it happen. And then, of course, I had to figure out …what next? Where to go from there? Some writers outline their stories and series, and I love the idea of it, and will continue to try it, but my last five books have all stolidly resisted this.”