Author: Laini Taylor
Publication Date: 11/6/12
Publisher: Little, Brown Books For Young Readers
Blurb(GR): In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Karou must come to terms with who and what she is, and how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, mysteries and secrets, new characters and old favorites, Days of Blood and Starlight brings the richness, color and intensity of the first book to a brand new canvas.
“Yeah. That was awesome.” A pause, followed by “Ow,” suggested elbow punctuation on the part of Mik.
Karou ignored it. “Well, imagine if she woke up and he was still alive, but…” She swallowed, waiting out a tremor in her voice. “But he had killed her whole family. And burned her city. And killed and enslaved her people.” (Days of Blood and Starlight, chapter 47)
This is approximately the circumstances in which we find Karou and Akiva at the beginning of Days of Blood and Starlight. All available blurbs and summaries are a little coy and vague about what this sequel has in store for its readers. Wonder no more. This is a dark, brutal novel with a war at its core. At the opening, Akiva just gave his seraphim brotherhood all the tools to destroy chimaera, and chimaera...well, they are almost completely eradicated as a nation. Karou is chimaera's only real hope of survival. No more talk of romance and love in this story. Akiva and Karou are in different camps now, with an abyss of resentment, guilt and disappointment separating them.
I have already heard a few voices upset by this almost-no-romance development. Not everyone wants to be torn away from the heavy romantic story line of Daughter of Smoke and Bone and face the ugliness of never-ending war where nobody wins. But for me this trilogy is better for it. I am not the sort of reader whose attention can be held for long by romantic angst. I love reading about love, but I am not of the opinion that just love can sustain a series of books. Something bigger than that has to be at stake. In this book, there is, and it pushes all romantic woes to the background. And understandably so, considering the nature and severity of the rift between the lovers. Can you continue loving someone who initiated genocide of your nation? Will you expect to be forgiven for killing off your beloved's entire family? Probably not.
Days of Blood and Starlight also gave me more in terms of storytelling than I had anticipated. I didn't expect at all to be so deeply submerged into the world of chimaera and seraphim, to get to know it so intimately. I remember getting only a glimpse of Eretz in Daughter of Smoke and Bone. This sequel is an adventure through the Emperor's harem, chimaera's tribal villages, seraphim barracks, ruins of Loramendi and excesses of Astrae, and then a look at what is is BEYOND the borders of the land known to Akiva and Karou. It is such a pleasure to read something about a world that has so much depth to it, to feel like I will never know the full expanse of this world and every wonder it holds. The masterful twists at the end left me hungry for more and more, because as much as I know about Eretz now, I also know how much there is still left to explore.
Days of Blood and Starlight may be not as quirky and charming as its goulash- and skuppy mischief-filled predecessor, but it's a novel that encourages you to contemplate the consequences of war for both winners and losers and futility of revenge. Even though I missed Prague and ever annoying Kaz a little in Days of Blood and Starlight, reading it was still a pleasure, albeit a pleasure of a different kind.
“Life is your master, or death is, Brimstone had said, but in these days of blood, there was no luxury of choice.
Death ruled them all.”
As much as I adored Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I like this one even more – albeit in an objective sort of way. This book checks all my boxes for increased complexity, darkness, and maturity. But strangely, it didn’t hit me emotionally as much as Daughter of Smoke and Bone – hence the four stars instead of five. However, I still very much recommend picking this one up.
In Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Laini Taylor made me feel the power of hope – how it can grow to be an incredible force when it’s nurtured and held close. But what happens when a secret hope is exposed to the outside world? Hidden inside a sacred temple, it can grow to magnificent proportions. Anything can seem possible. But in the real world, it is so easily dwarfed by things like obligation, family, tribe, violence, vengeance, and grief. In this book, Karou and Akiva struggle to maintain their fragile hope as they contend with a seemingly endless war – a war which consumes every corner of their lives and brands them eternal enemies.
My one major complaint at the end of Daughter of Smoke and Bone was that I didn’t really have a good sense of Akiva. I saw the word “angel” and I couldn’t stop myself from assuming power, privilege, and good looks – in a word, boring. In this book, Laini Taylor achieved what I thought would be impossible – she made Akiva interesting. We get to travel to his world, where his status is anything but privileged and his power is never his own. For much of this book, Akiva was actually more interesting to me than Karou, which is quite a feat.
Karou has a long struggle in this book – one that’s understandable but also hard to read your way through. The end point of her journey is evident from the beginning, and it’s hard to watch her flounder and suffer as she slowly, but realistically works her way back to the hope she lost. However, one wonderful bright spot throughout the book is the inclusion of Zuzana and Mik, who bring a very contemporary/human feel to this otherworldly fantasy. I think many other authors would have left Karou’s human friends behind once this story relocated across the portal, but Laini Taylor doesn’t and this dark tale feels fresher and younger for it. This is that rare sort of really well done high fantasy that also feels fun and contemporary.
Perfect Musical Pairing
The Smashing Pumpkins – By Starlight
as lovely as a wish granted true
my life has been empty, my life has been untrue
does she really know, who I really am?
does she really know me at last?
dead eyes, are you just like me?”
Honestly sometimes these pairings are just too easy. It’s like these two want to be together. I know what I’m really hoping for in book three:
“The impossible is possible
Believe in me as I believe in you
Dear Brimstone, how many teeth do I have to collect to get that wish? Because I may or may not have a little side job impersonating the tooth fairy right now…