Title: Days of Blood & Starlight
Author: Laini Taylor
Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks
Publication date: September 16th 2014
Buy at: BookDepository
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?
I’m going to be honest. I never expected to like this book as much as I did. If you happen to have read my review of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, the first book in this trilogy, you might remember that I was disappointed in it. It had an amazing worldbuilding, an interesting premise, and good characters. But instead of using those strengths, Taylor let it all go to waste by focusing on instalove. (Have I mentioned before how I loathe stories that focus on kissing and forget the rest? Because I really do hate them.)
Thinking this second book would have more of the same, I delayed reading it for months and months. I am now exceedingly glad I stopped postponing it. You see, Days of Blood & Starlight is nothing like its predecessor.
The first book ends as Karou discovers that Akiva is not only her forbidden lover, the man and angel she died for, but also the person who killed her family and helped in the destruction of her people. Now, in a lot of supernatural romance books, what happens next is an amalgamation of tears, shouting and immediate understanding, followed by snogging and more promises of never-ending love. Here? Not at all. Karou can’t trust or love someone who helped in the destruction of her people. She refuses to see him or even think of him. And from the very start of the book, while he tries to save the chimaera, she is not preaching for peace, but helping to build a chimaera army to end the angels.
Needless do I need to say it: I loved it.
The point in the second book is clear: war isn’t pretty. Indeed, by having small chapters narrated by a multitude of characters including Ziri, Zuzana, Liraz, and many others, Taylor lays bare the horrors of war and how they impact everyone. And I’m not talking only of losing a friend or a family member. She tackles death, genocide, nearly suicide missions, slavery, abuse, and much more. There are few books who deal with this so beautifully, so thoroughly. From the lowly soldier to the emperor, from the slave to the civilian, from angel to chimaera to human, everyone has a reason to weep. Even the reader.
The book is heavy on hopelessness and pain. And yet, there is always a flicker of hope. As it should be when Karou’s name means just that. Hope.
The characters’ feelings and thoughts are so raw, it’s impossible not to empathise with them, not to hurt in return. I said once that the author had crafted a believable world and set of characters. I’m even surer of it now, when she has developed seraphim and chimaera even further, and given Eretz a new, grim shine. I kept waiting to see a blue haired girl followed by a monster, a door that would lead to another world, or angels crossing the sky in despair. Part of me is still waiting to see them.
Taylor found the perfect tone for the book. This, the beautiful prose, the unbelievable character development, and the ever higher stakes turned it into a page turner. One fantastic page turner that has me wanting to skip all other books I have to read to delve into the last of the trilogy. I’ve heard it’s a fantastic one, and after Days of Blood & Starlight, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were so.
The book in a quote
“A dream dirty and bruised is better than no dream at all.”