A Rogue Librarian's Reading List

{August 25, 2012}   Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

Plot: Karou lived 17 years as a human before finding out that she was the resurrection of the chimera Madrigal, executed for her love of an angel. Now everything about her newly remembered life is gone: Her angel lover has betrayed her, her family is dead and her homeland is destroyed. The angels have won the centuries-long war and the surviving chimera have been enslaved or are on the run. With Brimstone gone, Karou has become the new resurrectionist for the tiny chimera army and she works under the command of the same man who had her executed. But in their quest for bloody revenge, will they lose the last hope of saving the chimera?

This review is based on an Advanced Reader’s Copy received from Netgalley.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone was one of the best books I read last year. It turned everything I thought I knew about urban fantasy, paranormal romance and angels on its head and made me fall in love with Prague. So it would be an understatement to say that I was looking forward to the sequel. Days of Blood and Starlight lived up to, even, surpassed all that hope and anticipation.

The first book left Karou hopeless and heartbroken, having lost her chimera family, her love and the world she has only just remembered. The second book starts not with Karou but with her friend Zuzana, dealing with the disappearance of her best friend. I love Zuzana and I’m thrilled that she continues to play an important part in the series, even as Karou moves further and further away from her human life. She is the tiny, ferocious best friend every girl should have. I mean, she was willing to drop a balloon of pee on Karou’s obnoxious ex. That’s friendship. She’s also full of wonder and courage when faced with the magic of the world. Besides her romance with Mik is just too sweet for words: he’s even willing to accomplish fairy tale-like tasks to win her hand.

But to hear me talk, you’d think this book was all about Zuzana. Days of Blood and Starlight is very much about the cycles of violence and revenge and the cost of war. The leaders on either side of the conflict are essentially psychopaths, willing to order all manner of atrocity to maintain absolute control. The worst imho is Karou’s own leader, the cruel and manipulative White Wolf: encounters with him always left me with shivers and a sick feeling in my stomach. Taylor did an amazing job of transmitting Karou’s feelings of dread for him; I shared that dread at every moment even safe in my living room. But most are not as dedicated to violence as the emperors and warlords: Akiva and his fellow Misbegotten (the angel emperor’s bastards, used as canon fodder) are forced to acknowledge the difference between fighting enemy warriors and slaughtering civilians and even the most hardened among them begin to question their mission. Karou, meanwhile, is so full of hurt and anger that she has lost the hope she was named for and the dream of peace she shared with Akiva but even in the midst of her pain she can see that what the White Wolf is doing is wrong. And yet, even though the greater part of the population is tired of the war, its momentum seems impossible to stop. It’s a sobering thought.

This volume is not very heavy on the romance (Zuzana and Mik aside). Karou is still very much conflicted (tortured, even) about her feelings for Akiva and what the White Wolf feelings for her are best described as possessive (and honestly, chill my blood). But there is a new character, Ziri, who had a crush on Madrigal as a boy and becomes a good friend to Karou in the war camp, who has some real potential: he’s a very brave, gentle soul. Things happen toward the end of the book (oh such horrible, horrible things!) that would make a romance between them very unlikely but I’m definitely team Ziri.

If you thought things were hopeless at the end of the first book, prepare yourself for even worse in the second. It’s essentially the apocalypse. Taylor does have a skill for dramatic cliffhangers. It goes without saying that I want the third book now but I fear I’ll have to wait another year to find out how Karou and her friends will get themselves out of this mess.

Days of Blood and Starlight will be released on November 6th 2012.

2012 (#87)

Title: Days of Blood and Starlight

Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone (2)

Author: Laini Taylor (http://www.lainitaylor.com/)

Publisher: Little Brown and Company

Year: 2012

ISBN: 978-0-3161-3397-5


j says:

OMG OMG OMG. Very well-written review of the sequel to an amazing book. I like that you manage to tease details and show us why you felt the book was great, without spoiling plot twists (as many reviews can’t do all these things at once). Also glad that there’s little romance, as the big minus of the first book was that there was too much of it.

roguelibrarian says:

Thanks j, I’m glad you liked the review and I’m sure you’ll love the book. ^_^

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