Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Published on: November 6, 2012
Genres: Young Adult
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Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.
This is not that world.
Art student and monster's apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.
In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she'll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.
While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.
But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?
Laini Taylor had some big shoes to fill after her incredible debut novel, Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Days of Blood and Starlight is a book I’ve been wondering about for nearly a year. The anticipation for a book can be such a build up (and sometimes a let down)…. I’m happy to report that, this book is an incredible continuation of Karou’s journey.
Day of Blood and Starlight, is a dark, gritty book, that stays gloomy throughout. Laini Taylor dove right in, and swam to the proverbial rock bottom with Karou, taking the reader right along with her. There were glimmers of “hope” here and there and some noteworthy undertones of love, but the overall tone revolves around death, atonement and wrongful resurrections that the poor chimaera are subject to. Taylor has a unique ability to set the tone with her vivid and intense writing. If you loved the first book, or even thought it worthy of a read, then this second installment is a must. It’s a cathartic journey the reader takes with Karou. We must go places with her to fully understand her role in this chaotic and unjust war that’s spilled out, onto earth. While it is a depressing read, it’s an essential middle piece of the puzzle for this series.
Karou’s story is certainly a heart wrenching one. She is stripped of everything she held dear to her. The only family she has ever known in both lives is gone, burnt to death by her true love in a sorrowful destiny. She’s left vulnerable with a loyal desire to repent for her past decisions, which lead her back to the chimaera. With every painful (both mental and physical) decision Karou makes, she reinvents herself into a stronger character.
I was able to see Akiva, as a fully fleshed out character that I didn’t see in the first book. In this second installment, Akiva’s powerful presence overcomes Karou each time they are together. This agony and heart break transcends the reader. His character gains clarity with each chapter and he decides, that, with or without Karou, he will pursue his dream to end the war that has been his life, since he was a young child. He reconciles his mistakes, and it’s gut wrenching to read and potently pure in vision.
Laini Taylor tells the story from many vantage points, something I really enjoyed, being able to get insight into what other characters are motivated by. It’s an arduous task for a writer to be able to switch back and forth between characters and chapters. Taylor is meticulous in the transitions with smooth writing and well thought out characters and circumstances. Akiva and Karou’s perspectives share the book, each on their own journey of atonement, appearing mostly separately (unfortunately!) but equally throughout. Taylor “humanizes” Loraz and Hazael which I was happy about. I was surprised to see how often they appeared throughout this installment and how much they build up to be important characters to Akiva. New characters, are unforgettable. The chimaera are a displaced and persecuted beings which echoes of our own history. Be forewarned there is violence and brutality in this book. Taylor portrays the true picture of war – where, no one ever truly “wins”.
The world building is incredible. From the desert to Eratz, I have a clear feel and can picture many of the places Taylor describes, to the point where I could walk around and know which way to go! Her writing is even better than the hypnotic first book, if that’s even possible. The story advances with natural progression. It was difficult to put the book down at times. I just wanted to keep reading!
My one gripe, if I had to have one, is that Mik and Zuzanna really annoyed me. They’re perky and oblivious to the carnage around them. Their appearance seemed wrong at certain points in the book. This is a miniscule detail that I’m mentioning in hindsight.
Laini Taylor and this series are at the top of my list in the YA Fantasy genre. A simply gorgeous story.